Meanwhile in Cuckooland 106

Imagine walking along the street and witnessing a tow truck dumping a scrap car on some public car park. You would probably think that suddenly time started to run backwards, as the tow companies are supposed to remove abandoned cars from the streets, not dumping them there. But fear not, nothing is wrong with our universe, it’s just Poland.

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Back in 2008, a towing company from Lublin was ordered by the police to remove illegally parked Hyundai Pony from the street. As the owner never reported for the car, the court seized it. 11 years later the company, that owns the parking lot, gets fed up with the fact, that no institution is coming forward to cover storage costs (that, reaching 12 000 zł, are several times more than value of the car, that by this time became a wreck), so they just dumped it back on the streets of the city.

Such everyday problems are things that annoy many Poles, yet the government has more important things to do. Like pleasing the church in every way possible. It has emerged, for example, that bishop Leszek Sławoj-Głódź, who during his work as the army’s chaplain was in unprecedented pace promoted from private to a general is receiving a general’s pension of 17 000 zł per month. Some of the pensioners receive less in the year! Meanwhile, a PiS MP demanded that Ministry of Digital Affairs forces Google to “mark churches on the google maps properly”. According to the MP, Google marks mosques with the crescent, but avoid marking churches with the crosses (interestingly I was unable to recreate the problem on my internet). There are also some grassroots initiatives: one of the postmen was caught affixing stickers to the letters from Unicef. The stickers read “Catholics! Throw it away! This is not a Catholic organization!”. No wonder, that the Church already feels as they are above the law. A TVN reportage showed the case, in which a priest sentenced by a public court to three years in prison for molesting a child was found not guilty by the Church’s internal court. In the same sentence, the Church’s judges deemed his 9 years old victim to be an accomplice to adultery. Even regular priests now feel that the law does not apply to them – a “Tatry” magazine described a situation where a priest leading a group of 55 children into mountains was caught by Tatra National Park rangers (groups should have at least one guardian per 15 children and have to be lead by licensed guide). He claimed that as a man of God he does not need any guides, because he is guarded by divine providence.

But non-priests also have a superior being looking after them. Jarosław Kaczyński announced, that after the elections minimum wage will start growing at an unprecedented scale, nearly doubling by the next election, and catching up with German level in 21 years. According to PiS, raising a minimum wage in private sector (the public sector is regulated with different bills, and as recent teachers and doctor strikes taught us, there is no money to raise salaries there) will lead to Poland becoming more innovative, although I fail to see how doubling a salary of a cleaner with no relation to the changes in market is going to bring innovations to the industry. Some say that it might lead to rapid automation, and thus many people will simply be out of a job. This is probably why a radical rise in National Insurance payments has also been announced, to the protests of the employers and businesses. But that should not be a problem – Kaczyński told them already two years ago, that if they cannot run their business in the conditions created by PiS, then they simply are not fit for the job and should think about another career path. So says the man, who for 30 years lives at taxpayer’s expense and who never run a business, or even worked for one, himself (shady dealings with Austrian developer excluded)…

In general, PiS is happy to tell people how to do their job, especially when it can be used as a propaganda tool to smear the opposition politicians. After major under-river pipes got burst in Warsaw, the sewage lands in the water, instead of being pumped across to the sewage treatment plant. The government propaganda goes ballistic over it, spreading fake news about the water in the Vistula in Warsaw being heavily poisoned (despite the fact that the sewage lands in the river below the capital city), and blaming Rafał Trzaskowski, recently elected president of Warsaw for this incident. Incidentally, the pipes that allow sewage from one side of the city being treated in the plant across the river were built only a few years ago, when Lech Kaczyński was president of Warsaw dumping it in the river was a standard and nobody was crying about it being ecological disaster…

But of course, if Trzaskowski can be shown as incompetent, then PiS has to make the most of it. They have sent the army to build a pontoon bridge to allow construction of the emergency pipeline. The things are not going as smooth as expected though, as the bridge turned out to be unable to support heavy pipes. Which is nothing new, as the army only operates an archaic construction from the 1960’s, for which even Leopard tanks are too heavy. Of course, PiS promised significant upgrades of the military equipment, but so far the only thing they managed to purchase was the luxury jets for the government.

This was not the only promise that PiS failed to deliver:

– there is no sign of those millions of electric cars promised by Morawiecki (after a ridiculous competition in which participants were asked to design a shape of the new car without any technical specifications – see here – nothing more was heard about it);

– of the promised 100 000 affordable flats less than 1% is about to be delivered;

– the flagship project of the canal construction to allow the port of Elbląg to flourish is under threat after it emerged, that there is no money to improve the port itself, without which the canal will be completely useless;

– the new approach to international politics, in which Poland was supposed to get up from its knees failed miserably – president Trump, PiS greatest partner and ally, decided that he would rather play golf than attend 80th anniversary of the Nazi invasion in Poland, and despite that PiS keeps brown-nosing the USA by agreed to vice-president Pence’s demands and abandoned the changes in law that would force the giant American companies like Facebook, Apple, Google or Uber to pay taxes in Poland;

– but don’t worry, it’s not that there weren’t any important guests during those celebrations. Although Donald Tusk refused to come, because the government initially failed to invite him (saying that only heads of states are invited, and EU is not a state) and then invited him as a private citizen, the first row was full of really important VIP’s: members of the Government and a regular MP, who was so important, that the Head of Constitutional Tribunal herself was assisting him when he struggled with the modern technology:

 – educational reform, as predicted by everyone but PiS, ended in a disaster. The schools having to tackle a double number of first-class students are often overcrowded (see the picture gallery here), in some first classes start at 6:40 AM, in others, last classes end at 20:00. But don’t worry, kids will be educated elsewhere, for example in one of the children’s program in Father’s Rydzyk TV, when the priest was telling kids how wonderful PiS government is:

– there is no improvement in the VIP security: It just emerged that a couple of weeks back president’s limo was involved in a crash with another government vehicle;

– promises to end nepotism and corruption proved to be empty, as the case of the internet portal on Puszcza Białowieska proves. A foundation created by PiS supporters received an EU grant of 6 000 000 zł to deliver an informative website. After this decision had been protested by EU anti-fraud institutions, the foundation received 7 200 000 from the Polish government institution instead. In return for this generous grant, the taxpayer received a website worth some pennies, with random footage from webcams placed in Puszcza Białowieska and article stubs that sound like they were written by 10 years old;

– the question of the promise that PiS is going to listen to the citizens can be seen in two ways. From one hand, they were not willing to listen to the annual report from Citizen Rights Ombudsman – during the meeting of the parliamentary commission he was abused for 7 minutes by PiS MP Krystyna Pawłowicz, and then denied right to speak. His speech in the parliament was scheduled just before midnight, and PiS MP’s did not consider it to be an important thing, so they went home. On the other hand, the government acquired an Israeli spying software Pegasus, so it seems it is willing to listen at least to SOME citizens;

– and when it comes to the resurrection of the shipyards, the situation is not only disastrous (apart from those private ones, that are doing well without any help from the government) but purely ridiculous. We wrote before about how prime minister Morawiecki affixed a commemorative plaque to a random piece of scrap pretending that this is keel of the newly constructed ro-ro ferry. Over the last couple of years, the skill in constructing Potemkin’s villages improved and now PiS politicians could promote themselves in the front of the newly built icebreaker. For some reason, there was no celebratory launching of the new vessel, and close examination proved the answer why: not only the ship was not built against the basic ship-building principles, but also it has not been welded together properly: the gaps were covered with duct tape and then painted over.

No wonder that with such records on delivering promises PiS completely gave up on making new ones. The message for the oncoming elections is simple: WE GIVE YOU CASH!!! – pay rises, extra pensions, new benefits – nobody is going to give you as much as PiS promises to! But despite that they seem to be preparing for the possibility, they might not be as successful in the next elections. Drawing inspiration from Britain, they have suspended parliament for a month, so the next sitting is scheduled two days after the elections. While technically not illegal, such a situation never happened, as it is considered fair for the old parliament to make no new decisions while the new one is already elected. Everyone wonders, what is the plan behind it?

But it might not come to that. Banners for one of the PiS candidates showed the number of the list, that was to be randomly allocated a couple of weeks later. He claims it was a printer’s mistake, but – surprise, surprise – it turned out that PiS drew this very number after all. PiS tries to play the issue down, but many people began to wonder if some printer somewhere hasn’t by mistake already printed the new election results…

I will look into opposition’s preparations for the elections in the next chapter of the series.

This piece was published in Britské Listy

Picture credit: (CC BY 4.0). 



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