Romania 25 years later

Over the last few weeks, I've been reading reports from Dr. Ileana Johnsonauthor and economist, about her recent trip to Romania.   

She left communist Romania in 1978 as a young woman.  She and I have different backgrounds but share our experience with communism, although she lived under it longer than I did.

Romania is a small central European nation that borders Bulgaria, Ukraine, Hungary, Serbia, and Moldova.  They speak Romanian, a language that has a historic connection to the romance languages like Spanish, Italian, French, and Portuguese.

After World War II, Romania was taken over by the USSR and turned into a satellite state, a member of the Warsaw Pact. 

It broke from communism shortly after the collapse of the Berlin Wall.

Today, Romania has one of the top 50 GDPs in the world, or $264 billion.

In 2011, U.S.-Romania trade in goods and services totaled $2,347 million. U.S. agricultural machinery and equipment, energy, environmental technologies, healthcare, information technology, packaging equipment and waste recycling, and chemicals are particularly attractive to Romanian importers. Principal Romanian exports to the United States are fertilizers, insecticides and pesticides, industrial machinery and equipment, metals and metal products, textiles and footwear, and civilian aircraft engines.

Dr. Johnson has traveled before to Romania.  However, this trip had emotional, value given that it was the 25th anniversary of the collapse of communism.

First, she recalled "the rally" that brought down communism:

On a beautiful sunny morning, May 21, 2015 when the Orthodox celebrated Ascension Day and Sf. Elena, we walked in the beautiful park downtown Brasov set at the foot of Timpa Peak, where a crowd had gathered in front of a large cross and several tombs of the young men and women killed on December 22-26, 1989, during the Revolution that toppled Ceausescu’s brutal communist regime. Some of them came to a rally and some were simply walking through the park. 

Ceaușescu was overthrown and eventually executed.  He was a corrupt dictator, who preached communism and socialism but lived in huge palaces without regard for his countrymen.

Twenty-five years later, Dr. Johnson saw how her homeland had changed.   

She came back with a warning for the US, her adopted homeland:

There is a saying that goes, “Our country is so beautiful, it is sad that it is inhabited.” 

We have so many simple and uneducated people who are easily manipulated by the mass-media, they are voting for the wrong people who control, lie, cheat, and steal. In exchange for a vote, bribes of 5, 10, 15 euros are paid and accepted. And schools are no longer teaching healthy values and morality. 

Democracy and freedom are understood as a lack of morals, honesty, personal responsibility, and as a culture of welfare dependency somewhat different from the communist culture of dependency where at least one had to pretend to work. 

“We are losing our national identity and it is deplorable.” 

Days after the interview I was mulling over the similarities between the fate of our countries in terms of purposeful destruction, curricular indoctrination, moral bankruptcy, banking corruption, crony capitalism, disinformation of the voting populace, and the endemic corruption of the ruling elites.

Romania and the U.S. are obviously different countries.  Nevertheless, the lesson of Romania is that politicians will exploit the dependency that socialism creates.  And it's hard to break that dependency once people realize their vote will keep it going.

P.S. You can hear my chat with Dr. Ileana Johnson here or follow me on Twitter.