F1, Sheikhs and shillings

The whole tenet of economics is virtually pinned on the notion of scarcity, it has never been more apparent than it is now. Consider oil, a dust bowl in some far flung part of the world finds oil and all of a sudden it is a mega rich nation with immense power and influence.

The oil rich nations have real power as the recession of the 1970s will testify. But of late this power has been showcased in a different arena and not at the petrol pump. The curious case of the football World Cup to be held in Qatar comes to mind. It is no secret that the Sheikhs have money to spend and many people are willing to bend over backwards to get their hands on it.

This brings me to Formula One, who this week, are in Bahrain. The race is mired in controversy because the country in the middle of clashes between the government and pro-democracy protesters.  The race last year was cancelled after the Arab spring spilled over to this Gulf state. Clearly the national sentiment is still the same as last year.

Formula One is synonymous with extravagant displays of wealth, the circus that surrounds these events is known for their glitz and glamour. It’s a show of excess with champagne (this weekend it’s Waard:  a traditional and non-alcoholic drink made from rosewater and pomegranates) flowing on and off the podium. Why would a self respecting sport go ahead and have their show? when around there are people who are fighting for democratic freedom ?

The question is rhetorical of course because the answer is simple, money! Loads of money, there is a lot of money to be made, sponsors to keep happy and missing the race for a second year running wasn’t really self serving. Last year Bahrain paid £25m (estimated) hosting fee even though the race was cancelled.

I hesitate to make a moral judgement but will simply acknowledge that money will always be a greater incentive. However, at some point we have to question the judgement of those who decide to schmooze those who abuse the rights of others, simply because there is a penny or two to be made.

The race will go on and so will the protests.

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About Keith

Keith graduated from the University in Summer 2012 and is no longer blogging for this site.

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