Monday, November 24, 2008

Economist Hilarity

I couldn't stop laughing when I read this article about the sinking Maldives. Love the sense of humor over at the Economist. Granted, this is somewhat of a problem since I'd love to visit the islands before they go under but.....

From the Nov 15 Issue:

LOSING one's home is a sadly common experience in these dark economic days, but it normally happens at an individual, rather than a national, level. The residents of the Maldives, however, face collective homelessness as a result of rising sea levels, which are expected eventually to engulf the 1,200-island nation, whose highest point is 2.3 metres above sea level. Faced with this alarming prospect, the country's new president, Mohamed Nasheed, has come up with an equally dramatic solution: put aside some of the Maldives' tourism revenues to buy another homeland.

Anyway, they may not want to be absorbed into a larger nation. They might prefer to stay together to maintain their community spirit and traditions of folk-dancing and imprisoning political dissidents. So a solution as radical as Mr Nasheed's may be the only answer.

It's a buyer's market in property these days; and, if the Maldivians are looking for an island, Iceland is said to be going cheap. But they may be spoilt for choice: think of all the tiresome bits of territory that other countries would like to offload. The snooty English, for instance, have long disparaged Wales, which they caricature unfairly as being populated mostly by Methodist preachers and disaffected sheep. It might be a challenge to persuade the Maldivians to swap their palm-fringed paradise for Llandudno pier on a wet Sunday afternoon; still, a bit of adroit marketing, focusing on the height of the hills, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Anthony Hopkins (both sadly no longer resident) might do the trick.

If they clubbed together, they could get somewhere really nice—Florida, maybe. China could stop making aggressive gestures towards Taiwan and buy Malaysia instead. It's already run by Chinese, so they'd hardly notice the difference. And Barack Obama, committed to uniting America, could defuse the nation's culture wars by purchasing an alternative homeland for those of his countrymen who want more use of the death penalty, less gun control and no gay marriage. A slice of Saudia Arabia's empty quarter would do nicely: there's plenty of space and the new occupants would have lots in common with the locals.

The British are familiar with the notion that, if you're bored at home, you grab somebody else's country; but recent experience suggests that invading places can be expensive and troublesome, so a market solution seems a better way of dealing with national dissatisfaction. The British are, let's face it, fed up with their damp little country. Instead of renting villas in Tuscany, they should buy the place; instead of complaining about the weather, they could complain about Silvio Berlusconi. The Russians suffer from too much crime and too much snow; the Gulf Arabs from too much heat and too little fun. Both should think of buying a temperate, orderly city with decent nightlife, such as London. Wait a minute…

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