Divine Intervention as a Development Strategy

First we had the mayor of Jackson, MS urging his constituents to pray that the numerous potholes in the city get fixed.


and now we have the President of Zambia calling for a national holiday for people to pray for the economy and the falling currency.  Ha–like the government doesn’t have anything to with either of these phenomena!

Bloomberg reports the following about the Zambian economy:

a.  The currency, the kwacha, has lost 45% of its value against the dollar in the past year.

b.  “Zambians have been forced to endure power cuts of as long as 14 hours a day in Lusaka as drought caused water levels to drop at Lake Kariba hydropower plants, which supply the nation with almost half of its electricity. Dry weather has also caused a 22 percent slump in production this year of corn, the staple food, boosting inflation.”

c. “Copper prices have dropped more than 20% in the past year, prompting companies such as Glencore Plc to consider shutting mines and fire thousands of workers. Zambia is Africa’s second-largest producer of the metal, which accounts for 70 percent of export income.”

d. “Since taking office in January following the death of his predecessor Michael Sata, Zambia has been beset by policy uncertainty and a weakening in spending controls that’s led to ballooning debt. The government has steadily raised its target for the budget deficit this year from 4.6 percent of gross domestic product to 6.9 percent.”

So what should a proactive and responsible government do when the economy is heading south?  Declare a holiday, urge people to pray for recovery, and make sure that no one works that day.  Hmm, economics is clearly not the president’s strong suit.  Here are some details:

Zambian President Edgar Lungu wants his people to pray for on a national day of devotion and fasting on Sunday to reverse a decline in the world’s worst currency and fix a litany of problems from plunging copper prices to electricity shortages.
All bars, nightclubs and entertainment venues have been instructed by the government to shut on the day, while the Football Association of Zambia has canceled domestic games.”

Just when you thought you had hit rock bottom with icon-based development…

Talk to the hand, Spanish edition

The Guardian recently published an interesting and amusing article entitled “Spanish government questioned over claims of divine help in economic crisis.”

The brouhaha began when Interior minister, Jorge Fernández Diaz said publicly that “Saint Teresa was ‘making important intercessions’ for Spain ‘during these tough times.'”  According to the article, Saint Teresa is one of the country’s “most popular holy figures.” [Strangest line of the article: “Saint Teresa was a favourite of General Franco, who kept her hand by his bed until his death.” Seriously?  If so, eww]

A left-wing Basque party wrote a letter to the government demanding answers.  I imagine the questions are supposed to be tongue-in-cheek (or at least rhetorical) and I enjoyed them a lot.  Here are some of my favorites:

“In what ways does the minister of the interior think Saint Teresa of Avila is interceding on behalf of Spain? Does the government believe there are other divine and supernatural interventions affecting the current state of Spain? If so, who are they?”

In reference to a comment made last year by employment minister, Fátima Báñez, who “praised the Virgin of El Rocío for helping Spain recover”:  “What role has the Virgin of El Rocío played in helping Spain exit the crisis?”

El País columnist Román Orozco agreed, writing that the government wants to ignore the “stark reality” of what was going on in Spain and instead, “pass on responsibility to virgins and saints, leaving in the lurch the millions of Spaniards who are the real martyrs of their never-ending austerity measures.”