Tired of all the downbeat talk about the economy from the dismal scientists who make it their profession to try to come up with creative new ways to measure the extent of our misery? Maybe we should take a hint from Latvia and start cracking down on these purveyors of pessimism (WSJ-sub req):
Hammered by economic woe, this former Soviet republic recently took a novel step to contain the crisis. Its counterespionage agency busted an economist for being too downbeat.
"All I did was say what everyone knows," says Dmitrijs Smirnovs, a 32-year-old university lecturer detained by Latvia's Security Police. The force is responsible for hunting down spies, terrorists and other threats to this Baltic nation of 2.3 million people and 26 banks.
Now free after two days of questioning, Mr. Smirnovs hasn't been charged. But he is still under investigation for bad-mouthing the stability of Latvia's banks and the national currency, the lat. Investigators suspect him of spreading "untruthful information." They've ordered him not to leave the country and seized his computer.
Remember, we're keeping our eyes on you Banaian.
UPDATE-- Bert e-mails to speculate:
Looking at the name of the economist detained by Latvia's security police, I have to wonder if it's a crackdown on rogue economists, or a crackdown onpeople who are ethnically Russian. Smirnov is not a Latvian name, so there may be something far more interesting going on here.
SP ADDS-- Yakov S. writes in with this comment:
In America, you look for ways to arrest bad economy
In Soviet Union, bad economy arrest you!