Posted by: bkropf | April 25, 2008

Free Trade: C’mon

Here is my beef with hostels: They have horrible directions.  I am not familiar with these towns when I arrive and if you read the directions to the hostel they are completely vague.  Directions to the hostel usually read:
From the bus station walk 5 minutes up to the triangle square.  Turn to face the sun and walk until you see a man in a wheel chair.  Check to see which way the wind is blowing.  If the wind is blowing from the north, take a southerly route to the hostel.  You won´t be able to miss the smell of baked beans.
We showered at the hostel in Moldova, to get the grimy train dust off of our faces and prepare for the day.  We walked into the center of town and I was struck by the communist looking buildings.  I could almost envision military parades passing by.  We continued walking through the sun drenched street and got lost in a beautiful outdoor market.  There were little old ladies hawking everything form pigs feet to parsley.  I bought a potato pancake from one and it wasn’t bad.  It was about 20 cents so I didn’t expect much.
The most amazing thing about Moldova was its massive amounts of money exchange stores.  Literally, I am not making this up, there were hundreds and hundreds of them.  We really couldn’t figure out what they were all for.  Sometimes we would see money exchange booths right next to each other.  I am starting to think that exchanging money is the main industry in Moldova.  Speaking of money, the money in Moldova looks like I could print it off on my inkjet printer.  The coins are plastic, I’m sure of it.
We also saw random packs of dogs roaming around.  Scared me one when they started barking and ran past me, but what can you do?
This is going to sound really lame but one of my favorite parts of Moldova was its supermarket.  Everything was basically free.  Moldova is famous for its wine so I checked the prices, bottles ranged from 1-6 dollars.  I think the most expensive one I found locked up was 12 dollars.  I couldn’t believe it.  But the fun thing about the store was the helpers they had in each isle.  When you entered the bread isle a nice young woman would approach you and help you find suitable bread.  If you went to the wine isle another would help you pick out the one to fit your fancy.  I settled on one of the most expensive bottles of Merlot for 6 dollars.
Taxis are also cheap in Moldova.  We paid 7 dollars for a 30 to 40 minute ride to the airport.
I was on my last pair of everything so I needed to do laundry BAD.  The hostel had no laundry facilities and Chisinau had no laundry mats.  I think someone should start that business venture in Moldova.
I read an article in the Economist and became very bitter at Hillary and Obama, and liberal trade unionists in general. The article was about US free trade agreements with Columbia.  I don’t know how many of you are aware of what is going on so I am going to set the stage to the best of my understanding.  For many decades now the US has had basically free trade with Columbia, letting them sell their products here even though they didn’t really let us sell our products there.  Every 10 years or so this agreement is renewed.  This year however, the Colombian president wants to make this agreement permanent for the people of Columbia.  The US imports much of Columbia’s goods and if we cut them off their economy would flounder and everyone would have to go back to making drugs and violence.  Columbia has offered the US, free trade in Columbia, meaning we can now sell our products there, free and clear, if they can sell their products in the US permanently.  Bush is pushing to sign the deal with Colombia, to help the US and Colombian economies, while Obama and Hillary are staunchly opposed in order to save the steel workers and other unionists.  Often I feel liberals are talking about helping the disenfranchised and less fortunate, why not look to Colombia.  In South America, Colombia is one of our stronger allies in the region and they need economic help.  Why cut them off and kill their economy only to aid an ailing and archaic industry here in the US.  Let supply and demand work its course and lets retrain the union workers who will lose their jobs to do other more profitable and sustainable jobs.  In this case I think Bush and the supporters of open trade are being far more compassinate on a global scale. 
I couldn’t find the article I read but I am putting in a link to another article about Colombia trade.  Please read it and make up your own mind. 


  1. I love your directions to the hostel example! And finally, somewhere cheap! I bet you’re loving it!

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