Marvin Olasky

“Jesus” is not only the answer to just about every question in Sunday school. He’s also the answer to the question, “Who’s the best news commentator ever?” For example here’s a headline: “Tower in Siloam Falls, Kills 18.” And here’s the news analysis from Jesus: “Do you think they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13).

I’ve just returned to America after visiting five countries that used to be part of Yugoslavia. One commonality was evident: Communism’s slow dying a quarter-century ago did not lead to happy-ever-after living. Totalitarianism gave way to authoritarian regimes, and that’s no small mercy, but the tallest stalk still gets the sickle. Journalists, for example, are no longer jailed by the thousands for telling the truth, but a few murders go a long way toward getting others to hunker down.

Sadly, the death of communism has not brought economic freedom, for country after country did not move from Marx to markets. Most moved from governmental control to control by those chosen by government. I’ll be writing more in future months about the past and present of these countries, but here now are tidbits from three interviews:

  • In Croatia, according to Zagreb banker Goran Gazivoda, “Corruption is everywhere.” A state-owned privatization fund plays favorites. Loans go to those who will not repay them. “All numbers are crooked.” In short, Croatia has crony capitalism for the benefit of 200 prosperous families, while unemployment surges. Getting anything done takes so many permits that ordinary folks often give up.
  • In Slovenia, according to journalist Blaz Zgaga, citizens received certificates for a share of formerly state-owned companies, but many did not understand the value of the shares and sold them cheaply to financial funds, so oligarchs now dominate the economy. Corruption is widespread and the government, which controls 80 percent of media, makes only pinprick strikes against it.
  • In Montenegro, according to reporter Marko Vesovic, the prime minister’s brother, sister, and friends prosper while others are jobless. Example: Because of deals with cronies, an aluminum plant that employed 2,000 now employs 300. Bribery has played a central role in the privatization of telecom and other industries. Drug and prostitute smuggling is rampant.

Marvin Olasky

Marvin Olasky is editor-in-chief of the national news magazine World. For additional commentary by Marvin Olasky, visit www.worldmag.com.
 
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