January 19, 2007
Iraqi Factories Arty
It becomes tedious in some ways to constantly harp on the sheer, mind-numbing incompetence of the Bush Administration (and in its own way, the Poodle's complicity in enabling such), however articles like this constantly remind me of the utter idiocy.
What is most painful is the degree to which this Right Bolshevism has given ammunition (rhetorically, not fundamentally factually) to attack free markets, etc. in a Naomi Klein sort of fashion.
Of course, the arty, on reviving the Iraqi state factories, includes this more depressing note:
There are also serious questions on whether officials in the focus of the United States presence in Iraq, within the fortified Green Zone in Baghdad, are ready to support factories that were seen as no more than relics of an era that American ingenuity and reconstruction were going to make forever obsolete.
I am sure. Bolsheviks live in a fantasy world.
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Agree that the general tone of the article was mental ward material, but as for the idea of trying to reanimate some of the old state economy, for the single purpose of buying off unemployment short-term -- well, why not?
If resurrected five-year plans and mass-production of Saddam-era porcelain toilets is what it takes to save Iraq, then it's a price I would be willing to pay. (May depend on if they're producing Western- or Eastern style toilets, of course, and set all facilities to the right height.)
Now, Iraq is most likely going down the drain with or without reopened state factories, so they could just as well save themselves the trouble. But if they are going to try anyway, mass-hiring The Angry Young Men off the streets to make tomato paste or dig holes or whatever, well, it makes no sense economically, but hopefully security-wise. Profits will of course go straight into the pockets of whatever tribal or regional strongman it was that kept the factory intact until now, but re-engaging in massive state patronage also seems sensible by now. And if re-opening some Saddam-era showoff plants also helps bandage wounded Sunni-nationalist pride, so much the better. (Plus, and I quote the article: "[...]sinks with paisley and vine patterns look as if they could be sitting on shelves at Home Depot. The toilets are sturdy.")
Economic reform can be adressed later, if the country survives to have a non-oil sector economic policy at all. Which, again, it most likely will not. But assuming they are going to try however slim their chances, they have my blessings with this strategy.
For the toilets are sturdy.
Posted by: alle at January 22, 2007 01:30 PM
I should have been clearer.
Reviving the state firms is worht a shot. I think it will fail, as too little too late, but most anything in re Iraq is likely to fail now.
Even in 2003 this would have been a good idea.
Anyone with experience re emerging markets investing knows that it is very hard for state firms that are derelict to get a reasaonble price without going through some clean-up - this abstracting away from the issue of over-employment. The CPA's utterly magical idea that they'd wave a wand and attract FDI was never a good or serious one. Experienced people were sure it would take a several year transition. Mind you, the CPA's theoretical goals re free market etc were laudable, but not the sort of thing that such an institution ever - even with excellent staff - should have tried to tackle at all.
Rank amateurism married to rank incompetence.
Posted by: The Lounsbury at January 22, 2007 01:44 PM