19 February 2007

The Wisdom Of Mart Laar

So what did one of the most successful post-Communist leaders have to say today? Here are some polished baubles.

Quotes Of The Day

1. "Empower people - give as much government power to people as possible" - his first words of his speech. You can see why he won the Milton Friedman prize for promoting freedom.

2. "Maybe you'll have to start to do some work" - What he told the bosses of the biggest domestic companies when he made the country into a free trade area.

3. "Change the machinery" - His euphemism for kicking all the Communists out and replacing with fresh blood when he came to power (there's a few Midlands councils that could learn the same lessons)

4. "The government ends up with too much money" - What he identified as the only drawback of introducing flat taxes (as he says that politicians always come up with rubbish ideas for spending money)

5. "Europe has lost its head" - Mart's opinion of the leadership of the EU. I can't share his opinion of CAP on a family blog.

Estonia Factoids

1. Independence from Russia was gained in August 1991. Over 90% of trade was with Russia.

2. In 1992 inflation was 1000%, GDP was falling by 30% a year and unemployment was approaching 30%. Budgeted government expenditure was double government revenue.

3. Today, access to the internet is considered to be a human right in Estonia. Within two years the whole of the country will have broadband or wifi.

4. They have successfully implemented ID cards. Mart suggested that the systems they developed cost 600 times less than that quoted by Microsoft.

5. All government spending is disclosed in detail to the public. Several government workers have lost their jobs as a result of journalistic probes into this information.

My only criticism (about which I asked a question) is that he has an incredible fantasy that a common EU foreign policy can be developed. Nonetheless, it was energising to see a politician whose nationalism and anti-Communism was so clearly hard-wired into his political DNA.


mel said...

Love your blog, but as a good mate of Mart's, there's a few mistakes. First of all, Estonia gained its independence in 1918 -- it was restored in 1991. Check with St James's Court and you'll see that. Even Tony "Czech Mate" Emo knows that! :o

* BTW 2006 GDP growth is 11.5%...

Praguetory said...

Hi Mel - thanks for popping by. I know that independence was first gained in 1918 - it was in Mart's presentation. My factoids were based around the recent past. An omission not a mistake, I would argue. Mart did namecheck 11.5% economic growth, but the figures at wikipedia (Baltic Tigers) stated growth of 10.5% and 9.5% for the two years - averaging 10%.

T said...

One word - the guy is "cool". Hope to have Margaret Thatcher here next year:)