Observations of an American journalist in Azerbaijan, Russia and USA.
Monday, January 26, 2009
The Carousel of Corruption?
It seems a bit curmudgeonly to complain about a carousel - but I will. The carousel pictured above is certainly one of the most elaborate ones I’ve ever seen. Certainly more elaborate than the ones in Central Park, NYC.
The carousel is part of a never-ending renovation process on what is called the “Bulvar” or boulevard, the well-used walkway by the Caspian Sea in Baku. I’ve seen the carousel in the process of installation over the last month or so - but today was the first time I’ve seen it whirling around.
So, what’s not to like about a carousel? It’s a beautiful attraction, after all. Good clean fun. And the whole renovation process keeps people employed - although many of the laborers seem to be Chinese - not Azeri.
I guess the thing that bothers me is that when I see such expensive attractions and renovations, I think about meager pensions and salaries. I think about the stipends for students that are promised and not paid. And what is the economic or political principle that means funding such high-profile public works projects is more attractive than investing in less grandiose infrastructure improvements? Is one type of expenditure more easy to divert for private gain? Why?
I have my hunches about the answers to these questions - but really answering them could be difficult - or dangerous.