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Saturday, February 23, 2008

It's a mad, mad, mad, mad world!

A collateral interest for a freaque wave data analyst is always on alert for freakish large numbers. Yesterday I came across some totally incredible numbers that are more than just mind-boggling. I am referring to this AP article by Angus Shaw published in the Washington Times which tells the inflation rate in Zimbabwe: 100,580 % in January 2008, up from 66,212% in December 2007. It was 24,470 % in November 2007.

As the article reports:
The National Incomes and Prices Commission, the government's price control body, this month allowed sharp increases in the prices of the corn meal staple, sugar, bread and other basics in a bid to restore viable operations by producers and return the goods to empty shelves.
and
Executives at a milling company that produces corn meal said the price increase allowed by the government was already overtaken by soaring production costs and gas prices. The National Bakers Association said bread shortages are set to worsen unless the price of a loaf is nearly doubled to more than 5 million Zimbabwe dollars (55 U.S. cents at the dominant black market exchange rate) for a regular loaf.
The article was accompanied by this AP photo:

that says "A child with wads of Zimbabwean dollar notes begged Tuesday on the streets of Harare."

Yes, the freaque waves front has been relatively quiet, so I can't resist to blog this non freaque wave, non scientific topic today. There are plenty of miserable things happening in this world of ours that never get to be reported by our drive by media. This is one of them. My hat-tip to Mark Krikorian of National Review Online for calling this article to our attention. The numbers are just too absurd to be true. How could it happen? How can the Zimbabwe people cope?!

Krikorian entitled his post the "Misery Index." Yes, indeed, I remember the "good" old days under the founder, architect, and patriarch of misery index, Jimmy Carter, when the inflation rate in U.S. s in the 13-14 percent range. That same Jimmy Carter, as President of U.S., authorized to have the U.S. underwrite the communist takeover and redistribution of property in Zimbabwe in 1980 by his favorite dictator, Robert Gabriel Mugabe. In Carter's description Mugabe is:
"A notable world leader, exemplifying the finest aspects of humanity in achieving liberty and justice based on freedom and decency, and a result which thrills the whole world . . ."
The end effect is "Zimbabwe, once the breadbasket of Africa until socialist brutal dictator Robert Mugabe got a hold of it, has seen staggering inflation and severe food shortages." ( See here.) That was also the time, thanks to Carter, according to this BBC report, "The path to the seizure of white farms was opened and thus began the long slide to today's economic chaos."

Everyone in their right mind can reasonably expect "economic chaos." But I doubt any one in their wildest guess can come up with a 6 figure magnitude!

For the record, while Mugabe was completing his genocide against Ndebele in 1986, the University of Massachusetts, Amherst bestowed an "honorary" doctorate of laws to him And of course, amidst all the miseries where ever he goes, Jimmy Carter received 2002 Nobel "Peace" Prize.

Here's some relevant background and comments by Barbara Simpson:

When the West wanted to rid South Africa of white apartheid, the world united ? against the whites.

In Zimbabwe it's worse ? racism against whites, brutality against blacks and the intentional destruction of a country.

But this time, under a black, Marxist leader, the world is silent.

It's racist, immoral and ? dangerous.

So what was the title of that Spencer Tracy movie in the early 1960's again?

Oh, yes, "It's a mad, mad, mad, mad world!"

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