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Alice’s Factor

Published on September 8, 2011 by: in: Politics

Commentators (even the serious ones that I have respected for many years) attribute features of a statesman to Polish PM Donald Tusk, basing on his ability to keep the high position in the polls and high probability of keeping the power for another term by Platforma Obywatelska (PO).


I share the admiration for his ability of manoeuvring – even though he has admitted that,facing the lack of opponents he plays successive games of draughts against himself. It is very easy to win such games, nay; one can become a draught grandmaster very quickly. Is it enough to be to receive the title of a statesman?

Comparing Tusk with Ross O’Grodnick from Kosiński’s novel would be an overstatement – even though there are numerous similarities between delivering aphorisms Prime Minister and Ross – as well as between Polish media and commentators and American elites from the book. The media are so deeply enchanted by the fact that Tusk is not Kaczyński – that they tolerate PM’s actions and behaviours suitable not only for Jaroslaw Kaczyński but Andrzej Lepper as well.

The title of a statesman is reserved for politicians, whose actions have left long-lasting positive trace in their society. It is New Year’s period, so it is worth enumerating the presents given to Polish people by the Prime Minister and PO.

According to the rule which we have been testing for the last three years, every promise made in the election is fulfilled – only backwards. It is as if PO, after having established the government, became Alice (from “Alice in Wonderland” by Dodgson) on the other side of the mirror. Each of the election theses has to be corrected therefore, by let us call it “Alice’s factor” that is reversing them by 180 degrees – and we get the actual work of government.

VAT Increase

The party that won voters’ hearts and votes under the banner of  no tax raising among other things formed a government, which as the first in the history of the 3rd Republic of Poland raised taxes.

Although the planned revenue from the increase – 5 bln PLN- could be obtained by, for example not creating new workplaces in the public administration (according to the calculations they cost around 4 bln) but cutting the red tape was one of the election promises, so employment (although there are no new jobs)  has to grow according to “Alice’s Factor”.

The government is trying to convince us that we will not notice the increase of taxes, the mechanism of rounding prices up will not occur – in other words they promise us a miracle. It has never happened in the world before that an increase of VAT has not led to an increase  prices – and since the PO’s program included a promise of a miracle – according to the Alice’s Factor – there is not going to be any miracle for sure.

Let’s build roads

The billboards are still up – the Prime Minister was persuading on the occasion of local elections “Do not let us do politics, let us build roads”. According to the Alice’s Factor the most needed and the most brilliant minister Mr Grabarczyk declared, directly after the elections,  that we are not going to build roads. It is not worth saving on the expenses on administration, it is better to spend 360 mln PLN on World War II Museum in Gdańsk – Tusk’s proud answer to the Warsaw Uprising Museum – the government can easily resign from the construction of roads. To compare 360 mln PLN stand for costs of building over 15 km of a highway taking Polish prices (according to Bankier.pl – 1 km costs 7,8 mln USD on average) – but if we took Czech  prices (1-2 mln USD) it would give us at least 60 km. But why would Mr Grabarczyk wonder why building highways in the mountainous Czech Republic costs four times less than in Mazovian Lowlands.  It is better not to build. In line with Tusk’s declarations on leaving the historic-symbolic politics – taking Alice’s Factor into account – we are building museums instead of roads.

Your money will be safe

This rule taking into account Alice’s Factor means – we will take from you whatever we can.

From the very beginning the pensions were one of the most important problems of the 3rd RP. Money transferred to ZUS over the years has vanished in the mouth of crises and economic regulations of PRL. Hyperinflation eating pensions’ purchasing power, old portfolio, new portfolio and delays in delivery of pensions by post – all of them were a significant part of press coverage of the systemic transformation period. Nobody had any doubts that in the situation where pension contributions are treated as subsidence for the national budget and the amount of pension as a derivative of the current efficiency of the state – is sick.  Demography is also against the system of financing current pensions from the current contributions – the last population boom took place in the 80’s and we cannot count on another one. The costs of transformation – inherited pension privileges on one hand and shielding systems for the liquidation of many workplaces – for instance early retirement – on the other, indicated  rather growing obligations of ZUS. The obligations are financed by the contributions of the population boom generation, who will not get any retirement shielding.

The AWS-UW retirement reform was the most wanted and expected. The main thesis was dividing Polish into ZUS financed – born before 1969, whose pensions will be financed from current contributions, and born after 1969 who will finance the majority of their pension by pension fund (OFE).  The benefits of such system seem to be unquestionable – it secures the interests of the future generations, who will not have to finance the population boom pensions, on the other hand it released significant amount of money pumping it into market through pension funds – which was of no harm to the market itself and neither to us – associated in OFE.

Tusk’s government, considerate of our and next generations’ portfolios, takes the majority of this money, changing it into ZUS account records, that is my children’s, grandchildren’s and great-grandchildren’s bonds. Moreover, demography shows that those descendants may be insolvent.

For better life. To everyone.

We do not have tax, OFE or road problems – we have a bad government problem. The government, whose actions are implementation of PO political programme corrected by Alice’s Factor. The government that lives in a parallel world – on the other side of the mirror, unfortunately dealing with matters on our side. The government that lives the moment and whose actions are turning into pathetic caricature of their own assumptions day by day. We have also a problem of lacking alternative – there is no one in the parliament, who we can trus, and it is hard to treat seriously the tomfoolery of Palikot’s Movement.

The actions of the Prime Minister are not the actions of a statesman – they are actions of smarty-pants selling us a brick – every election. He takes advantage of the economic situation and fear of Jarosław Kaczyński – then making us do things, which even Kaczyński would be afraid to do.

I do not believe in reshuffle in the political mainstream – the so-called political elite from SLD to Prawo i Sprawiedliwość is not intellectually capable of behaviour adapted to challenges of a modern state. The reshuffle consisting of changing the parties’ names, rotating the names present in the politics for many years – gives no hope for building any new quality. We need a modern and country-oriented formation representing interests of growing middle class and not thinking in categories of opinion polls and political party’s interests. Such a party will not be formed before the upcoming election – but there is no doubt that in order to take care of the future of Poland – we have to find some other solution than voting in favour of PO for fear of PiS.

Translation: Jakub Kossowski (qba211@poczta.fm)

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About Marcin Celinski

Enterpreneur, manager. He was the first leader of the Liberal Forum.

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