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.


Ani said...

Maybe it's the angle of your photo, but what's odd about the carousel is that it doesn't seem to have many places for children to ride.(??)

Be that as it may, I don't think that fixing a carousel vs. student stipends needs to be an either/or proposition. There's plenty of money both for cultural projects and for civil ones, if the graft were taken eliminated--okay, reduced.

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