Final Word from Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek waltzed back into town and decreed yesterday that the sale of safe alcohol will be resumed within a matter of days. Why is it that something that should be good news sounds so devious when coming from his lips? It just doesn't pass the smell test when he utters it. Kalousek's ploy is transparent enough for those paying close attention. First, he wants to disavow any responsibility for the 23 deaths from methanol poisoning, although his ministry has allowed (encouraged?) a multibillion-crown black market in alcohol to flourish. Second, he wants to shift the attention by resuming "safe" sales and talking about a new licensing system for retailers. It's hard to tell from Kalousek's words who has been lobbying him more in the past few days - the legitimate spirits producers or the black marketeers, all of whom want to return to normal operation ASAP.[Czech Republic methyl alcohol excise tax]

Glossary of difficult words

to waltz in - to enter (a room or situation) without hesitation and with self-confidence;

to decree - to issue an order (such as by a king);

devious - showing a skillful use of underhanded tactics to achieve goals;

the smell test - an informal test using common sense to determine whether something is legitimate or ethical;

to disavow - to deny any responsibility or support for;

to flourish - to grow rapidly; to thrive;

ASAP - as soon as possible.

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