(Originally broadcast on Dec. 11, 2009, on The Frank Show, here.)
I have a question. For the politicians. Ok, it’s a rhetorical question. Of course, you’re welcome to respond. If you do, I can put your face on TV, which is, it seems, why you work so hard to get elected. But I don’t really expect an answer from you. I know you’re busy. So many TV cameras — so little time. In fact, I’ve been feeling a bit sorry for you. For those of you guys out there not on TV, you have no idea how hard it is to remove this studio makeup. But ok, back to my question. You politicians have been around TV so much this week, have you had time to watch the news? I mean, not about yourself, but about the world? You know, the news about Dubai, about Greece, about Spain, about Ireland, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Hungary, the Baltic states, Ukraine? Have you seen any of it? I include it on this program – maybe too much — but I do it on purpose so people here will see what other countries are doing about problems similar to the ones we have here. Have you read a newspaper? Have you talked to anyone who’s read a newspaper?
No? Ok. Let me give you a little recap. On the one hand, Dubai has borrowed itself nearly to bankruptcy to build new islands and big buildings. Greece is in the toilet with the EU because of corruption, politics, and a budget that apparently was drawn up on a cocktail napkin. Sound familiar? Spain, with 20 percent unemployment, just can’t stop itself from spending. Even the US and the UK got their hands slapped by a ratings agency because they’re screwing up their finances. Now, on the other hand, there’s Ireland, Bulgaria, the Baltics. They’re serious — very very serious about agreeing, cutting, and balancing. Then – then, there’s Ukraine. We all know about Ukraine, right? Well, they now have no choice but to go to a street corner, hat in hand, and beg the IMF, out of kindness or fear, to come back, please come back, and toss a couple billion dollars their way.
No, you haven’t read about that this week? You’ve been too busy? That’s a shame. Because there are lessons here to be learned. Not from history. You don’t need to go back that far, or even read a book. Just look around. Just read the papers. You will see in front of you one of two or three directions you will be taking Romania in the near future. Are you doing that? No. Instead, you’re still fighting. And you’re still boring us. Well, don’t misunderstand. Whether the election was corrupted by fraud IS important. To know that is vital. If it deserves to be overturned, then it should be. A new election should be held. The problem is that this very important issue comes after weeks of campaigning in which there seemed to be NO important issue. All of a sudden, AFTER the vote, the vote becomes important. THAT is no joking matter.
But neither is the budget. And I don’t see anyone talking about that these days. December 10 – a deadline the IMF set when it said it would come back this year if a 2010 budget was submitted. I didn’t see any mention of that deadline passing. And now the IMF has said it would return, for a quick visit, before the holidays. Apparently, there ARE people working. I say thank you. But where were the long wonkish discussions about the budget during the campaign? Where are they now? Listen, we want you to sort out the election results. We want to know if it was a fair election. But we also want you to get to work. Our vacation hasn’t started yet, why has yours? Don’t you have a job to do? Aren’t you supposed to be getting a budget together for next year, and explaining it to us, so this country can survive? Do you really think the world has stopped while you sort all this out?
Well, just look at some of your colleagues in the EU. They’ll tell you. The world has not stopped. Their budgets are not fixing themselves. The rest of the world, including investors, are indeed watching. And many of us are waiting. We want you to talk about the real steps that are needed to bring this budget under control. Let your lawyers sort out the election results. We want you to talk about what steps you will take. We want you to talk about the consequences if they are not. We want you to talk about priorities – and policies. Yes, I know it’s less exciting than calling people names. Yes, it takes more work. But at least, I can assure you, if you did that, you’ll still be on TV.