Final Word from Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Except for perhaps Tomáš Baťa, there will never be a Czech John D. Rockefeller. Czech privatizers who stole their start-up capital and have been hoping ever since to go legit, or at least to appear so, will never be able to replicate the transformation of Rockefeller, Carnegie, Vanderbilt or Morgan. Those American robber barons made their fortunes in an era of enormous growth and used the passage of time and good PR to become industrial statesmen and philanthropists. The window for Czech oligarchs to do so was simply too narrow. The world is a mess, and it takes just three words - Vekslák bourá Prahu in the case of Petr Kellner, Knihovna Václava Havla in the case of Zdeněk Bakala - for the past to come screaming back. Self-righteous Czech billionaires will no doubt think it unfair, but the more good deeds they try to perform, the more they will highlight the misdeeds that brought them to where they are today.[Czech Republic Václav Havel Library Moneychanger razes tears down Hotel Praha privatization Five Families BXR]

Glossary of difficult words

to go legit (legitimate) - to begin to behave honestly after a period of illegal activity;

to replicate - to duplicate or reproduce something;

Vekslák bourá Prahu - moneychanger tears down the Hotel Praha (the slogan for a protest against the razing of the Communist-era hotel);

Knihovna Václava Havla - Václav Havel Library;

self-righteous - having or characterized by a certainty, esp. an unfounded one, that one is totally correct or morally superior;

misdeed - a wicked or illegal act.


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