Class example starts the story: Commerce wants to end the food rationing in Iraq and move onto something more--CANYOUBELIEVEIT!--more marketized. State has a kitten and freaks out, believing the rationing was essential to continued social stability in Iraq (lots of that going around right now). I guarantee you this: leave State in charge long enough and Iraqis will be on food rations the rest of this century.
The story quotes “economics section” staffers at the embassy decrying the end-of-rations as this incredibly stupid idea that keeps resurfacing every twelve months. My God, we’re four years into this and we’re still keeping everyone on rations?!?!?
Here’s the kicker: almost all of the rations are imported.
Guess what that does to Iraqi agriculture.
Bremer’s crazy idea was “to cut off the rich and provide poor Iraqis with cash so they could buy the food they needed.”
But why treat them like adults when we can suppress market development all these years and keep them in a welfare mentality?
And that's not even the best part:
And hey, if you were to take a wild guess at which countries might benefit from all this, would you guess Iran? Let's see, a country that has a manufacturing base, located next to a country whose infrastructure rebuilding efforts are retarded by "development aid"...whose economy do you think that aid money is being pumped into now? Our best friends the Iranians!
Then when you think State couldn’t be more blockheaded, they go out of their way to fight Paul Brinkley on his plan to revive manufacturing in Iraq. Keep them on rations and stop any movement toward job creation.
The complaint? The factories in question were “dinosaurs.”
This is classic Six Sigma thinking on our part: gold-plated modernity or nothing at all. The point is job creation, not ideal positioning of the Iraqi economy in the global marketplace.
Meanwhile, we’ve created such an idiotic dependency culture in Iraq that our embassy officials brag that “no Iraqi politician wants to get rid of free food. It’s political suicide.”
Man, that’s a great accomplishment amidst all the sectarian violence and civil war and terrorism: protecting Iraqi politicians from “political suicide.”
Highly recommended reading. Be sure to check out the sources for Tom's post too - there's some excellent stuff in there.