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Saturday, 6 December 2008

Constitution Day

Today is a national holiday - Constiution Day, which is something like July4th for Americans, only with a lot less pazazz. We'll be meeting the extended family at the bodega for a meal.

But you know, I think the constitution is something to celebrate. I don't want to sound pompous here, but real democracy makes such a huge difference - just ask a Zimbabwean. It's so nice to say what you think, without worrying about a knock onthe door at 3 am.

Less dramatically, one of my parents' most vivid memories of a holiday in Romania was the man they saw watering the grass with a hosepipe in the middle of a downpour. The poor guy was soaked. But as soon as you don't dare say, "Hang on, that's a bit daft isn't it?" you're going to get an awful lot of that sort of thing. If you multiply that sort of idiocy by the number of times it happens, you begin to see why communist economies tended to stagnate. And then there's all the people who tell their boss what he wants to hear (because the truth might land then in jail), and the boss goes and makes decisions based on this misinformation.

Democracy isn't a luxury that only rich countries can afford. It's a large part of the reason that they're rich.

I will now get off my soapbox to tell you that Monday 8th is another national holiday, namely holy conception. So tomorrow, Sunday, most of the supermarkets will open.

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