People are the key to development

I am writing today’s report on my way back from California, where I went for a wedding. During my stay in the United States, I could feel the presence of inflation in the country, but people of all ages we chatted on the street were rather complaining about supply problems.

People were also concerned about the likelihood of a water shortage throughout California. I can say that everywhere we went in the state was quite crowded and no one wearing face masks, except for a few people we saw on the street, as if the pandemic had never happened. The venues that appealed to all income levels were overflowing with people. I could not help but notice some campaigning activities as well, considering the upcoming midterm elections. California is a Democratic stronghold, but the political narratives seem to have shifted to the right. There is a similar situation in Europe, even the farthest left parties have started to use right-wing rhetoric.

People were a little worried. While we were talking about the possibility that the Fed might hike rates by 75 basis points next month, I asked them, “How did the Government and the State help you?”. Apparently, they were provided with both financial aid and loans at very low interest rate. “I refused the loan because I didn’t need it,” said the driver who drove us to the airport, adding that he did this not only because he is an honest man, but also because he had no economic rationale. In countries with single digit inflation rates, individuals’ approach to economy and finance is different from that in Turkey. Unfortunately, in our country, the huge gap between inflation and interest rates creates the impression that loans are given “free”. As far as I could gather, the financial crisis of 2008, which struck after the boom in profits from money and capital market in the U.S. during the 1990s, brought people to their senses. I pray, one day we will come to our senses as well.

Another important detail that caught my attention in California is that nobody judges anyone by their looks. People’s looks in this state do not give a clue about the size of their wealth. You can never know, in California, a person who goes out to lunch or dinner with sandals on their feet may actually be wealthier even than the richest person in Turkey.

“Road to Democracy Is Not A Bed of Roses”

It surely would be easier to achieve development if governments could ensure that all people in society are provided with opportunities and good standards of living in all aspects of life including sports, arts, culture, justice, equality, and education. Obviously, the road to development has never been and probably never be a bed of roses. For example, when we look at U.S. history, we find that the process of building an advanced and developed country brought about its troubles too such as racism, gender discrimination and oppression, periods of lawlessness, and economic crises. Nevertheless, the U.S. system survived by constantly questioning itself and managed to improve itself by allowing the freedom of speech. The survival of the country was ensured by freedom, not by oppression and restrictions. The U.S. nation has always been willing to pay the price for their mistakes such as electing bad leaders like Nixon and Trump. And these bad experiences taught them to appreciate and preserve the good things in life, especially the democracy and their constitutional rights.

But, contrary to popular belief, the United States was not always governed by democratic leaders. There were times when the presidential office was won by leaders who tried to restrict people’s freedoms for one reason or another. Constitutional institutions and the rule of law were, are and always will be the most precious jewels of a democratic country as these jewels can save its citizens from the hands of oppressive leaders. Trump and Nixon have both faded away in history because they have done things that were not compatible with liberal democracy, such as attempting to change the U.S. legal system and imposing a freeze on wages and prices in order to counter inflation.

Just like human body, countries too release antibodies whenever they face a disturbance that violates their founding principles. When the body fights a disease or an infection, it deploys inflammatory responses, the blood pressure and temperature rise, the body malfunctions.

Trying to change or eliminate the Founding Principles is just like trying to keep a person alive without lungs, heart, and brain. Even if we replace one or all of these organs, the person will cease to be the same person. This is the reason why Americans respect their founding fathers and embrace universal values .

All my efforts are intended to make our people heard and understand that Turkey too must remember and follow its founding principles and values.