24 May 99

This just in from a friend in the Balkans. He is working for the UN:

“Some local politico decided he was going to engage in some tax extraction at the ‘Arizona Market.’ Now, there’s a man who does not understand the concept of a black market. He gathered the local police, and off they went.

Upon their arrival, merchants quickly gathered to prevent this intrusion into unfettered capitalism. AK47s were quickly produced by merchants (the UN has long since confiscated those the police once had). Then, the police from a neighboring town arrived, and backed up– the merchants! Apparently, there is a jurisdictional dispute.

The merchants then started to barricade the roads, so more reinforcements could not arrive. Shots were, of course, fired and, at this point our commissioner calls from Sarajevo to order the UN police in to sort out the situation. The duty officer, God bless him (a Brit with no pretensions to promotion), said ‘No!’ ‘They’ve got guns. We haven’t.’ Eventually, NATO troops arrived to restore some form of order.

Remind you of Boston some time ago?”