Well it’s come to my attention that some learnéd fops and big cheeses have been reading some of my posts on Gypsies (if you’re new to my thoughts on the subject, you can start here). I don’t wish to get into that subject today however but I do want to discuss a related topic.
Essentially all modern “civilized” thought on Gypsies is that their culture must be modified in two ways. One is civic responsibility, meaning they must adhere to social norms such as no stealing, no shouting on the street at 3am, learn to brush their teeth, regularly wash, vote, etcetera. The other way is education, as in their children must be forcibly educated.
As I said, I’ll leave that topic for another day. But I recently realized, after talking extensively to some people, that if you wanted to utterly destroy what’s left of Romania’s economy you could do it in one simple step – eradicate free university tuition.
There’s absolutely no coincidence that the four biggest cities in Romania are all home to multiple universities. Bucharest, as the national capital and home to half of Romania’s urban dwellers, obviously has a more diversified local economy. But if there were no more universities in Cluj-Napoca, Timisoara and Iasi, those three cities would collapse overnight.
Very few countries still have a system like Romania’s although it was once common even in the ruthlessly competitive United States, that graduating high school students were given access for free to public universities. Ronald Reagan, the former President of the United States, actually cut his political teeth by dismantling that system in California when he was governor there.
In my own lifetime, Britain went from having a large number of free spots at public universities to now a more American system where tuition rates are exorbitant. You could buy yourself four brand-new good automobiles for what it costs to attend a quality university in many countries these days. But here in Romania, as long as you maintain a certain level of scholastic achievement, it is still free (albeit there are secondary costs such as books, food, etc, depending on the situation).
Iasi, Timisoara and Cluj-Napoca are completely dependent on this system to survive. Here in Unicorn City alone there are some 60,000 university students every year. They shop in the stores, they drink in the bars and they provide gigantic infusions of cash on a yearly basis. Students do a lot of the part-time work and are employed in lower-level positions and are a fundamental part of the local economy.
Furthermore, because these top universities in the big four cities are so prestigious, they have the net effect of sucking in tens of thousands of students from smaller cities and rural areas. Many students receive money from parents or family back in these smaller cities and rural areas and this money in turn gets spent in one of the big university towns. Essentially, Cluj, Timisoara and Iasi are factories that draw in enormous sums from families in other areas that gets spent in the big city.
This isn’t exactly news for anyone who has lived in a university town anywhere on the planet. But in Romania there are two key differences. The first is that a student from a poor family still has a chance to come to the big city and study at a top-notch university. This means that ordinary Romanians have a chance to get a good education and then parlay this into a good career, improving the quality of life for future generations.
The second key difference, sadly, is that the very smartest students, the most ambitious entrepreneurs, the brilliantly multilingual geniuses which pass through the doors of Romanian universities are nearly all being vectored out of the country. They go on to study further or to pursue careers in other countries and so Romania suffers badly from a brain drain. The smart and ambitious people end up leaving which means fewer and fewer top quality people left in Romania to sustain the economy and pay taxes so that the next generation can continue to receive a quality university education at little to no price.
It’s quite a vicious system and it is on the path to collapse, either through the imposition of tuition fees or because too many of the smart and education people have left Romania and the economy can no longer fund tuition-free university studies.
When that does happen, when the balance is tipped through one or both of the reasons listed above, the cities of Cluj-Napoca, Iasi and Timisoara will implode. Or at least their economies will. It’s true there is a little bit of light manufacturing and some other industries in these big 3 cities (particularly the computer/IT stuff) but overwhelmingly everything in these areas is completely dependent on 50,000 or more university students arriving each year and spending money, learning valuable skills and knowledge, which then gets converted (some of the time) into a smarter, more savvy workforce. Take away the universities and the whole thing collapses like a house of cards.
In countries like Britain, graduating university students are highly likely to keep their skills in their home country. Even when they decide to emigrate and work in places like France, this is balanced out by a roughly equal number of equally qualified graduates from foreign universities (such as those in France) coming to work in Britain. But here in Romania there is a steady and unrelenting torrent of smart and educated and capable people all leaving to go work and study abroad and virtually no equivalent immigrants coming here to take their place.
I was born and raised in cities and so it wasn’t until 2011 that I ever learned how to make my own butter. Of course I’d been eating it all my life and knew what it looked like but I never truly understand what it was. It turns out that if you take fresh (raw) milk, allow it to cool (especially in a refrigerator), the cream actually does rise to the top. You then remove the cream, put it in a container and then apply friction and the fat molecules in the cream will coalesce into butter.
Romania is a bit like that bottle of milk. The cream, or the brightest, best and smartest young people in this country, are being siphoned out of the bottle (country) and then going on to France and Germany and Singapore and America and everywhere else to make “butter” (things that improve society). What’s left behind in Romania is increasingly the stupid, the uneducated, the illiterate, the criminals and the elderly.
And this process repeats itself every day, every week, every year as more and more of the best people are being lost and so the crap at the bottom of the “bottle” is becoming more and more concentrated. Besides the elderly, every day there are more golani, more drunks, more drugged-out fiends, more ditch diggers, more people who read Click!, more bad drivers, more ignorant fools who listen to manele and ride burned-out scooters, more bribe takers, thieves, con artists and criminals.
The people who could make this country better have no incentive to stay. And so the only people who are staying behind are those too old to make a change and those too stupid or incapable of doing so so. And it is this generation of scammers, beer drinkers, scooter drivers and leather jacket aficionados which Romania is depending upon to pay for the next generation’s top-notch university education. And that, right there, is a recipe for disaster.
In a few generations at most, if nothing changes, Romania will resemble its smaller cousin, the Republic of Moldova, a vast region full of nothing but elderly potato farmers and one or two decrepit cities run entirely by clans of mafia bandits. RM already holds the unfortunate distinction of being one of the few countries where more of its citizens live outside of its borders than inside of it. And it won’t be long before Romania is much the same.
And then all the shiny Starbucks, the nice malls, the smooth highways and the BMW dealerships will be nothing more than hazy memories of a brief moment in the sun when things were good.