The Aprozar revival vs Artificial Intelligence. Why Dragnea tries to get us back into the arms of the daddy state
Don’t be fooled: Dragnea hates the proverbial communist Aprozar (grocery store) full of Vietnamese shrimp and homegrown tomatoes. For a merchant who literally put water into the beer he was trading, bent as he was on escaping his native Teleorman, champagne socialism means champagne for real. But Dragnea is now appealing to the demons of nationalism and nostalgia for the vote and for his true purpose: creating a paternalistic state that would manage as much of the public resources as possible.
A poor public speaker, who avoids crowds for fear of being booed, Dragnea has touted his electoral program somewhere between visits in Slobozia and Călăraşi. He says he wants a state-owned firm to gather fruit, vegetables, and cereals from small producers, and set up hundreds of small grocery stores across the country (for younger readers, Aprozar is the abbreviation (in Romanian) of the term « Supply of Vegetables », and represents the former state-owned and state-run network of shops, characterized by permanent shortages and generalized petty corruption).
One might think this is a generous idea, worth testing. However, practice shows that from a logistical point of view, it is extremely difficult to ensure a supply flow based on the products delivered in small quantities, with fluctuations in volume and quality. Besides, all this begs a legitimate question: what will the grocery shops sell after the small local producers exhaust their seasonal goods? Are we going back to Vietnamese shrimp? (Oily, impossible to digest shrimp, which colonised communist shelves for 10 months a year).
The Aprozar revival is just a populist idea that appeals to the nostalgia felt by elderly people and to latent nationalism in society. If it were economically sound, it would have been put into practice. This is just an attempt to re-centralize trade, as in the communist era, ensuring politicians have access to a business which could feed their political clientèle. The project by which the Government establishes the National Company „Romanian House of Commerce Agro-Food UNIREA” SA is already in the works and will give rise to yet another budgetary monster that will run at a loss and end in bankruptcy with debts to suppliers and state budgets.
Dragnea’s second statist idea is infinitely more dangerous: the Sovereign Investment and Development Fund (FSDI). A state mammoth that would include the shares and assets of 30 major strategic companies (Hidroelectrica, Nuclearelectrica, Romgaz, Port of Constanta, etc.) and will use their money for supposed investments. Imagine just what investments Dragnea, Vîlcov, Daea, Bădălău &co can make. People who dream of last century’s Communist trade, unable to speak Romanian, for whom the switch of a smartphone flashlight is a great wonder.
The history of communism shows us that the state’s presence in the economy, even where it has a monopoly, generates corruption and loss. It’s not just the experience of years of communism: Reuters affirms it, as they saw the pattern in Malaysia and other approximately democratic countries.
We have been warning the public ever since the 2016 electoral campaign that Liviu Dragnea’s idea conceals a major danger. Just like Gabriela Firea’s and Robert Negoita’s ideas of setting up dozens of municipality owned service providers. All of them are money making factories for the political clientele and big public money gobblers.
This is what Dragnea’s FSDI will look like: a huge fraud and embezzlement scheme of big state companies in favor of ever-hungry friends and barons, scared that the theft of European funds is way too risky and who are looking at internal resources for consumption and dilapidation .
Dragnea could not care less about the factories promised with investments from the FSDI. In the world of artificial intelligence and digital citizenship, to think that one can set up a steel mill under the guidance of Niculae Bădălău is sign of a great naiveté. Since 2012 these people have not been able to start even one single major infrastructure project. They would not survive in the free market, their only chance is to distort the national environment and kill the competition.
All of these are, in fact, electoral campaign lies with which Dragnea hopes to ride the regional wave of nationalism and Euroscepticism. Two years from now we will still be hearing hear such utopian promises packed with a pathetic attempt to make us feel for the fate of the Romanian peasant. A peasant whom the PSD has mocked and kept in misery for 29 years.
Two years. Our struggle with this outdated and obsolete system of seeing state involvement in the economy will last for two years. If at the end of four rounds of elections PSD wins, forget about the world of the future and prepare your reusable bags for queueing in front of the Aprozar.
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