Monday, March 22, 2010

Et tu, Economist?

Disappointingly, even the Economist can stoop low indeed.

An article titled "The opposition marks time" with the sub-title "The rulers sound cocky as an inchoate opposition ponders its next move" (and the supra-title "The struggle inside Iran") published on 18 March 2010 at is the case study which provoked the surmise at the beginning of this piece.

> Shorn of his distinctive beard, Mr Rigi
> was paraded before Iran’s television cameras
> and “confessed” to receiving aid from the
> American arch-enemy.

Interesting use of the double-quote device, this. Does it mean that Mr. Rigi didn't really confess, that he had his fingers crossed the whole time, concealed beneath the latest issue of the Economist? Perhaps he was "shorn" of his beard - i.e., the beard was present, but covered up with make-up and putty, to give the appearance of clean-shavenness. Or does the author possess evidence that Mr. Rigi was tortured and made public statements under duress, but wishes, out of sensibility, to spare us the horror?

> ...a traditional fire festival, which
> Iranians celebrate by jumping over bonfires
> and letting off crackers,

This is a new milestone in bad taste. Would the author describe the Christ-on-crucifix figure as a dying, bleeding, convicted criminal, and express contempt at its being made an object of worship? Or a belief that millions of Indians have (that bathing in a dirty river produces a cleansing effect) as mass delusion?

> A recent annual meeting of
> the Assembly of Experts,....
> sounded like a Soviet plenum
> without the vodka.

Why is that, I wonder? Because the Iranians were speaking a Godless language (certainly not even close to English), exactly like the Soviets (who, as we all know, all had alcohol on the mind, and were definitely Godless)? Or because the affirmation of the country's leadership by this group was couched in too strong terms? What language is appropriate, what words must be avoided ("sublime", perhaps?), will the Economist publish a glossary of such?

> Iran’s economy is barely growing

This is absolutely true. However, let us anyway have a glance at data published by the IMF for Annual % change in GDP (constant prices) for Iran:

2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
7.825 2.506 1.484 2.179 3.189

So, current growth doesn't apprear impressive at all.

But when one compares it to some other countries:

2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
2.260 0.323 -2.358 0.903 1.755
4.036 2.933 -0.753 -0.064 0.660
6.024 -3.036 -7.500 -2.500 1.026
3.565 0.856 -3.767 -0.743 0.863

Iran's growth appears to be far superior. Ah, but what banana repuplics are these, the shrewd reader asks. They are not. The statistics above belong to, in order, France, Greece, Ireland and Spain.

"Yes, yes, the garlic-eating French, the boy-loving Greeks, the less said about the Irish the better and the Spanish are probably more interested in their siestas." (Given the "bonfire jumping" and "vodka" insinuations above, this is how I imagine the author sees these countries)

Here are some of the world's richest countries - some of them even speak English and know how to use a knife and fork, so they are obviously all right:

2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
2.516 1.248 -5.297 0.336 1.470 (Germany)
1.564 -1.040 -5.145 0.240 0.744 (Italy)
2.337 -0.705 -5.369 1.676 2.379 (Japan)
2.559 0.742 -4.385 0.909 2.493 (UK)
2.141 0.439 -2.730 1.518 2.768 (USA)

Even here, Iran seems to be not warrant the "Iran’s economy is barely growing" pronouncement. China and India have probably more impressive (growth) figures, even if they are way behind in terms of per capita income and quality of life, but they are the among the fastest growing economies in the world.

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