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post #1 of 67 (permalink) Old March 18th, 2014, 14:51 Thread Starter
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Naprijed BH! The Practical Ideas for a Better BiH Thread

Guys,
I've been thinking about some of the discussions that we've had down the years, and I've come to a few tentative conclusions:

•There's a lot of talent in this forum;
•There's a lot of goodwill in this forum;
•We want to see a better BiH, but perhaps we lack a roadmap.

So I'm putting this thread out there to stimulate discussion about any initiatives to improve the situation in Bosnia that anyone reading this may be able to action at some point either now or in the future.

After some contemplation, imho these initiatives should:

1. Avoid politics and particularly ethnopolitics insofar as possible, not just for moderating reasons but because this is too often the graveyard for practical action (not just in BiH but elsewhere);

2. Be universal in scope – i.e. focus on the stuff that everyone in the world values and which is not controversial (i.e. improving educational standards, reducing poverty, improving the environment, reducing drug and alcohol abuse).

3. Be practical and actionable, in that they don't require huge or at least unattainable amounts of capital or connections to implement;

4. Bring people together for reasons of mutual benefit (not necessarily material).

To kick things off, I'll throw two issues into the ring, one easy to organise, one slightly harder:

1. Sarajevo's air is amongst the worst in Europe. One simple way to help alleviate this is planting trees, because trees absorb huge amounts of pollutants. Getting schools involved in this solves the labour problem (i.e. who plants the trees) and increases environmental awareness amongst young citizens.

2. Bosnia is presently not part of the PISA international educational survey. It should be, and it shouldn't be hard to persuade anyone of this necessity – the benefits are obvious. If cross-entity cooperation really does prove impossible for some reason, then the biggest city in the country - Sarajevo - could be included in the same way as Shanghai represents the PRC.

Plan?

'Meditation is not being calm sitting on some remote mountaintop; it is being calm in the middle of New York City.'
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post #2 of 67 (permalink) Old March 18th, 2014, 15:40
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Simple. Scrap Dayton and start from scratch.



Also, join the EU and NATO and EEA I would presume
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post #3 of 67 (permalink) Old March 18th, 2014, 16:07 Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by YellowBlueCoke View Post
Simple. Scrap Dayton and start from scratch.



Also, join the EU and NATO and EEA I would presume
Okay...these are exactly the kind of fantasy macro-measures to get away from discussing. None of us has or is ever likely to have any direct control over these. So forget them. Next!

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post #4 of 67 (permalink) Old March 18th, 2014, 16:26
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If segregated schools still exist in a few of the cantons, they should get rid of them as soon as they can (the public ones). They're counterproductive and only encourage differences between Bosniaks and Croats. I think at the public level, primary and secondary schools, should be multicultural to encourage unity.
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post #5 of 67 (permalink) Old March 18th, 2014, 17:17
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which language would they learn in these multi-kulti schools?
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post #6 of 67 (permalink) Old March 18th, 2014, 17:41
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which language would they learn in these multi-kulti schools?
I think that part has to carefully be worked out. I would assume whatever standard dialect is used at the university levels.
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post #7 of 67 (permalink) Old March 18th, 2014, 17:43
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Easier said than done, since there are 3 official languages all equal to one another in BiH.
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post #8 of 67 (permalink) Old March 18th, 2014, 18:25 Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by shiaben View Post
If segregated schools still exist in a few of the cantons, they should get rid of them as soon as they can (the public ones). They're counterproductive and only encourage differences between Bosniaks and Croats. I think at the public level, primary and secondary schools, should be multicultural to encourage unity.
Nice idea, but ultimately this comes down to ethnopolitics - at least in the public sector. It's too controversial, so it won't fly - plus, it's a constitutional or at least 'deep' politics matter, so for this thread it's a non-starter.

Private schools are a completely different matter, btw. There are a number of international schools in Bosnia and the region which seem to be doing a decent job in this regard.

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post #9 of 67 (permalink) Old March 18th, 2014, 19:00
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The simplest thing would be to name a new language such as "Yugoslav" or something.
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post #10 of 67 (permalink) Old March 18th, 2014, 19:57
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Montedia View Post
1. Sarajevo's air is amongst the worst in Europe. One simple way to help alleviate this is planting trees, because trees absorb huge amounts of pollutants. Getting schools involved in this solves the labour problem (i.e. who plants the trees) and increases environmental awareness amongst young citizens.
Unfortunately, there are a few factors that contribute to Sarajevo's poor air quality. Although trees certainly do make a difference, the main reason why smog constantly lingers above Sarajevo is due to the tall mountains surrounding the city. These mountains create a sort of barrier where a majority of the air pollution simply can't be blown away very easily.

Having said that, I'm all for educating the youth on how to be more environmentally friendly.

Sarajevo će biti, sve drugo će proći!
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post #11 of 67 (permalink) Old March 18th, 2014, 20:16 Thread Starter
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Unfortunately, there are a few factors that contribute to Sarajevo's poor air quality. Although trees certainly do make a difference, the main reason why smog constantly lingers above Sarajevo is due to the tall mountains surrounding the city. These mountains create a sort of barrier where a majority of the air pollution simply can't be blown away very easily.

Having said that, I'm all for educating the youth on how to be more environmentally friendly.
That is of course correct, but I think that will partly be taken care of in the medium term as electric vehicles are rolled out over time and maybe a light rail line or two is built over the next 20 years.

Trees still do make a significant difference, though, as do rooftop gardens. Every bit of greenery helps.

http://news.discovery.com/earth/glob...utants-voc.htm

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post #12 of 67 (permalink) Old March 18th, 2014, 20:18 Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by YellowBlueCoke View Post
The simplest thing would be to name a new language such as "Yugoslav" or something.
Too political, controversial, expensive and not universal enough.

Many people across ex-Yu do not want to call 'their' language Yugoslav.

But everyone wants to breathe cleaner air.

'Meditation is not being calm sitting on some remote mountaintop; it is being calm in the middle of New York City.'
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post #13 of 67 (permalink) Old March 18th, 2014, 20:45
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Yeah, unfortunately there really isn't enough green space in the city. It gets into issues of urban planning and regulation as well. I also seem to remember reading some major Sarajevo architect complaining about how the construction of Grbavica (the neighborhood) effectively blocked off one of the major outlets for air circulation in the Miljacka valley. I'm not sure how reliable this is, but at the very least it provides yet another reason to hate Željezničar.

Besides the natural geography and a lack of green space, the other major - and perhaps even biggest - factor driving the air pollution is the amount of old cars and their exhaust fumes on the street. I remember reading how the mayor of some major Latin American city recently had a lot of success on that front with some creative measures... stuff like actually barring cars from the city center on a certain day of the week, or at least something along those lines. I believe the city in question was Bogota, though I could be wrong. Smaller towns could focus a lot more energy on encouraging bicycles and such.

I wish the country would invest more in renewable energy, since it's an investment that would pay itself back over time, and BiH has great predispositions for some forms of it. Idiot kleptocrats like Haris Silajdžić are obsessed with hydroelectricity and effectively destroying our rivers and natural beauty, but the terrain around Mostar actually has very potent winds. Installing turbines there would also presumably lower the cost of living for ordinary people.

I also wish we would legalize marijuana and reform our drug laws. If done responsibly, it would give a major boost to our tourism, agriculture, maybe even industry (FDS could start rolling out cartons of "Visoko 'Highs'"). It might even provide the first substantial change to our international image since the war; eastern european pot holiday is obviously less than ideal, but it's far better than eastern european genocidal wasteland. I realize this would be more of a macro / legal reform, but I think it's symptomatic of a lack of imagination and general incompetence among our political leaders as well. I don't understand why we have to wait for half the world to reform their drug laws before we belatedly follow the suit... the economy is in the toilet and if we had the political will then I don't see what would stop us from getting ahead of the curve and making a killing off of it.

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- Bosnian-Herzegovinian (BiH) club with the most Yugoslav championships
- BiH club with the most appearances and longest continuous stay in top flight football
- The most succesful BiH club on the Yugoslav league's all-time table
- The most succesful club on the BiH Premier League's all-time table
- BiH club with the most appearances in international and UEFA competition

Last edited by Džoni B. Dobar; March 18th, 2014 at 21:02.
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post #14 of 67 (permalink) Old March 18th, 2014, 20:54
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I believe the old vehicles are a big part of the problem aswell, it's not hard to find some that are 20-25 years old or more. I don't think you can force people to scrap their cars (unless they're unsafe) but creating cheaper alternatives to the car can have some impact. Cars always seems to be the first choice in BiH even if the cities are quite small and there is money to save on other alternatives?

A solution would of course be a proper public transport system (which Sarajevo doesn't have at the moment), but that costs money. I'm thinking more about changing peoples habits and promote cycling (or even walking) for instance. I think it could work well in atleast some parts of the Sarajevo and other cities. The distances are not huge, it's cheap, good for the health and you don't need to circle for 20 minutes to find a parking spot (Sarajevo).

I don't know, maybe a naive solution to a complex problem?
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post #15 of 67 (permalink) Old March 18th, 2014, 21:59 Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Džoni B. Dobar View Post
Yeah, unfortunately there really isn't enough green space in the city. It gets into issues of urban planning and regulation as well. I also seem to remember reading some major Sarajevo architect complaining about how the construction of Grbavica (the neighborhood) effectively blocked off one of the major outlets for air circulation in the Miljacka valley. I'm not sure how reliable this is, but at the very least it provides yet another reason to hate Željezničar.

Besides the natural geography and a lack of green space, the other major - and perhaps even biggest - factor driving the air pollution is the amount of old cars and their exhaust fumes on the street. I remember reading how the mayor of some major Latin American city recently had a lot of success on that front with some creative measures... stuff like actually barring cars from the city center on a certain day of the week, or at least something along those lines. I believe the city in question was Bogota, though I could be wrong. Smaller towns could focus a lot more energy on encouraging bicycles and such.

I wish the country would invest more in renewable energy, since it's an investment that would pay itself back over time, and BiH has great predispositions for some forms of it. Idiot kleptocrats like Haris Silajdžić are obsessed with hydroelectricity and effectively destroying our rivers and natural beauty, but the terrain around Mostar actually has very potent winds. Installing turbines there would also presumably lower the cost of living for ordinary people.

I also wish we would legalize marijuana and reform our drug laws. If done responsibly, it would give a major boost to our tourism, agriculture, maybe even industry (FDS could start rolling out cartons of "Visoko 'Highs'"). It might even provide the first substantial change to our international image since the war; eastern european pot holiday is obviously less than ideal, but it's far better than eastern european genocidal wasteland. I realize this would be more of a macro / legal reform, but I think it's symptomatic of a lack of imagination and general incompetence among our political leaders as well. I don't understand why we have to wait for half the world to reform their drug laws before we belatedly follow the suit... the economy is in the toilet and if we had the political will then I don't see what would stop us from getting ahead of the curve and making a killing off of it.
The problem with the drug legalisation idea is that it is controversial. Even here in the UK - home to more narcotics-based pop culture movements than anyone sane can really stand - most 'soft' drugs have not been legalised, and I can see large sections of BiH society (ironically, cross-entity!) being dead set against it.

This could change in 20 years or so, but by then any first-mover advantage would have been lost.

Banning or restricting cars on certain days of the week is an idea that has been tried successfully in a number of places, though. Can't see why it wouldn't work in Sarajevo. Ditto renewable energy, which can be generated even at the micro level.

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post #16 of 67 (permalink) Old March 18th, 2014, 22:02 Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by BozniaN View Post
I believe the old vehicles are a big part of the problem aswell, it's not hard to find some that are 20-25 years old or more. I don't think you can force people to scrap their cars (unless they're unsafe) but creating cheaper alternatives to the car can have some impact. Cars always seems to be the first choice in BiH even if the cities are quite small and there is money to save on other alternatives?

A solution would of course be a proper public transport system (which Sarajevo doesn't have at the moment), but that costs money. I'm thinking more about changing peoples habits and promote cycling (or even walking) for instance. I think it could work well in atleast some parts of the Sarajevo and other cities. The distances are not huge, it's cheap, good for the health and you don't need to circle for 20 minutes to find a parking spot (Sarajevo).

I don't know, maybe a naive solution to a complex problem?
Biking and walking are easy, dirt cheap solutions to a lethal problem. Cities in BiH are small enough so that walking and biking are viable options pretty much everywhere unless one is travelling intercity.

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post #17 of 67 (permalink) Old March 18th, 2014, 22:48
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Originally Posted by Džoni B. Dobar View Post

I also wish we would legalize marijuana and reform our drug laws. If done responsibly, it would give a major boost to our tourism, agriculture, maybe even industry (FDS could start rolling out cartons of "Visoko 'Highs'"). It might even provide the first substantial change to our international image since the war; eastern european pot holiday is obviously less than ideal, but it's far better than eastern european genocidal wasteland. I realize this would be more of a macro / legal reform, but I think it's symptomatic of a lack of imagination and general incompetence among our political leaders as well. I don't understand why we have to wait for half the world to reform their drug laws before we belatedly follow the suit... the economy is in the toilet and if we had the political will then I don't see what would stop us from getting ahead of the curve and making a killing off of it.
Why? For drugs tourism?



Quote:
Originally Posted by BozniaN View Post
I believe the old vehicles are a big part of the problem aswell, it's not hard to find some that are 20-25 years old or more. I don't think you can force people to scrap their cars (unless they're unsafe) but creating cheaper alternatives to the car can have some impact. Cars always seems to be the first choice in BiH even if the cities are quite small and there is money to save on other alternatives?

A solution would of course be a proper public transport system (which Sarajevo doesn't have at the moment), but that costs money. I'm thinking more about changing peoples habits and promote cycling (or even walking) for instance. I think it could work well in atleast some parts of the Sarajevo and other cities. The distances are not huge, it's cheap, good for the health and you don't need to circle for 20 minutes to find a parking spot (Sarajevo).

I don't know, maybe a naive solution to a complex problem?


Public transport needs money, a lot of it. The public transport system throughout the whole of Bosnia is terrible. You can see many abandoned railway stations in pretty much every town. We tried to get some Talgo modern trains but they wouldn't fit on our rails. The train station in Brcko, where I'm from, has on average about 3 trains per week. Car is simply the best it seems.
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post #18 of 67 (permalink) Old March 18th, 2014, 23:11
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The simplest thing would be to name a new language such as "Yugoslav" or something.
Yea, let's try this again. Surely this time it will work
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post #19 of 67 (permalink) Old March 18th, 2014, 23:25
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The problem with the drug legalisation idea is that it is controversial. Even here in the UK - home to more narcotics-based pop culture movements than anyone sane can really stand - most 'soft' drugs have not been legalised, and I can see large sections of BiH society (ironically, cross-entity!) being dead set against it.

This could change in 20 years or so, but by then any first-mover advantage would have been lost.
Lot's of controversial ideas are ultimately embraced.

I don't think the state (through force) ought to make that decision for me or anyone else. Just as they have no right to tell me what may come out of my mouth, similarly they shouldn't have the right to tell me what to put into it.

Keeping pot illegal is a sure way to guarantee a corrupt police force, narco-bosses, high crime rates, people who have harmed nobody in jail for years at taxpayer's expense and the usual bureaucratic/ government corruption - mishandling, petty interest group lobbies, misapplication of resources and general destruction of other people's money whilst doing more harm than good. Not to mention bankrupting the economy of the society in question in the process with idiotic laws that seek to change the nature of man by force.

How about personal responsibility and freedom? To chose what you ingest into your own body, if there is one thing in this world that we own, it's our body. There are drug addicts, alcoholics, porn addicts, skydivers, base jumpers, X-games participants and what have you, you can't legislate stupidity, and all attempts have failed miserably.

The same argument can be made for government bans on trans-fats, subsidies of corn, milk or what have you, their proposed higher taxes on sweet soft drinks and fast food chains. Because, you know, they know better than us so they should control our behaviour ever more, for our own good. alm:


Quote:
Banning or restricting cars on certain days of the week is an idea that has been tried successfully in a number of places, though. Can't see why it wouldn't work in Sarajevo. Ditto renewable energy, which can be generated even at the micro level.
More needless government intervention and attempts to control people's lives and livelihoods through central planning and compliance through the threat of force.

This has been tried in this region for over 70 years, and look at the results.

Why not try freedom for a change.

The best way to help BiH is to drastically reduce the role of government, de-centalise the power structure, drastically cut government spending, hold governments responsible for overspending, drastically cut the ridiculous taxes that fund the corrupt machine and make it easy for business owners to set up shop and offer their good or service in a free market Selling pot? Why not, it's an industry and a lucrative one. If you think it's harmful, choose not to take it. If you can convince enough people of the harm, you don't need the government to use force on your behalf. Your ideas should be persuasive enough, if you truly believe in your own set of principles, that is.

But this undermines political power and influence. They don't want a marketplace of ideas, they don't want you thinking on your own or making decisions for yourself. So we won't be seeing these economic reforms whilst former socialist/collectivists are still running the show and still thinking they know what's good for us, or else!

end of rant

Last edited by Ero; March 18th, 2014 at 23:38.
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post #20 of 67 (permalink) Old March 18th, 2014, 23:53 Thread Starter
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Talking about radical reforms of the state are OT in this thread because macro reforms like that (however desirable or otherwise) are way beyond our control. Save those ideas for your book

Controlling or restricting traffic is something that has been proposed and implemented in cities large and small and which has been a huge success. Moreover, it is possible to get that ball rolling with very little capital or power. It's within reach.

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