Food is probably the most beneficial improvement in the lives of Romanians – it is available everywhere and there is no need to stand in endless lines to leave empty-handed as was the case during the communist regime. People are no longer faced with having to repair their shoes from year to year because they could not buy new ones. Grocery stores display an abundance of food, not just one solitaire salami in the window. Pharmacy shelves are no longer empty and drugs are available. Fast communication and modern transportation are now a breeze even in the most isolated corners of the country.
Brenciu described the standard of living and the buying power of the Romanian citizen who must live on a minimum net salary of $232 a month, about 1050 lei. According to economists, the median net salary for the country is 1,600 lei a month, $384. Yet prices for goods and services are 90 percent in line with prices across Europe. How are Romanians expected to survive under such conditions and unfair disparity? Even though Romania has joined the European Union in 2007, life is much harder than in the other EU members where salaries are much higher and in proportion to prices.
Not one political leader has succeeded in 26 years after the fall of communism, Brenciu added, to increase the Romanians’ standards of living to at least the minimum level of their European Union brethren.
The fact that people expect politicians to have solutions for their problems is quite telling. It is an indication that decades of communism have brainwashed the citizenry into believing that solutions to their problems come from big or bigger government’s intrusion into everyone’s lives.
What is to blame for the current unresolved economic disparity? Incompetence and corruption across the board at the state level are significant, however, even more important, in Brenciu’s view, are the politics of other foreign governments, of multinational corporations, and of strategies to undermine the interests of the Romanian people in order to subjugate a small country with yet unexploited natural resources. “Onerous patrimonial and business interests supersede the interests of the Romanian people.”
In his opinion, the Romanian population, after decades of tyrannical communism, has learned to survive in a harsh environment and to live with very little and quite poorly, but the younger generation does not seem so eager to be marginalized at the periphery of the globalized political system.
There are many foreign entities, Brenciu explained, who salivate at the prospect of dividing the country and claiming parts, they think, are rightfully theirs. “The Hungarians have exophthalmic eyes for Transylvania; Europe is thinking out-loud how they can round up all the gypsies into the Baragan Fields, and the Moldovans on the Russian side of the Prut River dream of an illusory Big Moldova. Even Bulgarians are not too relaxed about northern Dobrogea.”
The European Union has had to deal with Greece and its potential exodus from the EU called Grexit. The technocrats in Brussels “calmed the waters” with billions of euros in funds that are helping the Greeks continue their socialist spending. Brenciu thought that “Romania might follow the same path if EU does not take rapid measures to increase the average pay for Romanians, even though they would have to break the rules of economic development.”
Brenciu reminded us that Germany was the beneficiary of the Marshall Plan after WWII, which saved the Germans from an “existential impasse.” He argued, “Romania was in a real war, longer and more criminal than Germany’s but nobody took this fact into account. What was communism if not a war of life and death of an entire nation? Why does EU not organize a system for Romanians, similar to the Marshall Plan, without so many conditions and strings attached?” He semi-answered his own question when he described how Holland opposed Romania’s entry into the Schengen Zone because Romania refused the indefinite concession of its main port, Constanta.What seems to be Romania’s salvation at the moment, he said, is the fact that Romania is located strategically at the confluence of the Christian West and the Islamic Orient and the United States is taking a keen interest in this strategic location.
During the fifth decade of the 20th century, heroic anti-communist, anti-Bolshevik resistance fighters hid in the Carpathian mountains, waiting for the American troops to save them. American soldiers never arrived but they are here now, strengthening the buffer zone between Christianity and Islam. It is a blessing, Brenciu added, that “American strategic interests are converging perfectly with Romanian interests” and the ties to Washington are stronger than ever.
Brenciu believed that Europe, with its culture and enlightenment, the center of human civilization on earth, owes a debt of gratitude to the “poor Romanians who never betrayed common European and Christian values and were satisfied with very little in order to survive as shields in the face of so many barbaric invasions.”He concluded, “Europe should bow its head in respect and should produce urgently and with love, the fraternal and just reparations to a people who defended with their absolute poverty, the splendor of a narcissistic and profoundly selfish civilization.”
As a former Iron Curtain nation, Romania started its road to democracy and to a free market economy at a distinct disadvantage when compared to other former communist Soviet satellite nations. Ceausescu made it a point of pride that Romania should not owe money to foreign lenders; he saw himself as a ‘maverick’ president. He paid all loans quickly by taking away much needed food and funds earmarked for improving the lives of Romanians who were forced to survive in abject poverty, with no decent food, meager rations, no basic necessities, little heat, and intermittent water and electricity.
TO BE CONTINUED