Meanwhile in Cuckooland 51


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Recently popular joke in Poland goes like that: a guy gets into the taxi and shouts at the driver “to Kaczyński, quick!”. The driver looks back and asks “but where exactly? Kaczyński street? Kaczyński square? Kaczyński avenue? Kaczyński court? Kaczyński lane? Kaczyński roundabout? Kaczyński bridge? Kaczyński airport? Kaczyński train station? Or perhaps to Kaczyński university?”.

This joke, until recently, was told as it was to happen in 2025 or something, but it seems that it will become true sooner than anyone expected. We’ve already mentioned in this series about how the government ordered local councils to change street names that can be associated with communism. As we wrote before, some of the local councils were not too keen – first of all change of a street name induces costs for people living there and companies registered under that address. But simply also because the world is not just black and white as PiS wants to see it: the fact that someone was a member of the communist party does not necessary implicates that such person does not deserves recognition for what they did in life. But for them a former communist can be praised as patriot only if he signed up to PiS, like Stanisław Piotrowicz, in 1980 a prosecutor acting against democratic opposition. So to ensure, that there will be no “politically incorrect” street names, PiS designed a new law, that would allow the province governor to force street name change on the local council. More over, such changes will be secured, as the “de-communised” street names will be not allowed to change name again without permission from the government. Incidentally the name most often proposed by the province governors (who are local representants of government, i.e. PiS) is… surprise, surprise: Lech Kaczyński. I wonder how long it would take to rename Katowice to Kaczogród (from Donald Duck comic books, where the characters were living in the city called like that, in English: Duckburg). It would not be the first time, between 1953 and 1956 it was called Stalinogród. So far Katowice would have to settle with renaming the main square outside the train station to “Lech and Maria Kaczyński square”. Not only it was done without any public consultation, but the change was hidden from the journalist during the press conference related to other street name changes. And no wonder, as the present patron to the square, Wilhelm Szewczyk, was, true, a member and activist of the communist party, but he was also a popular writer, poet and reporter. He is also known for his translation of the German books and person with merits in Polish-German reconciliation and research into Lusatian Sorbs culture. The fact that the square was named after him in 1995 proves, that he is not remembered due to his communist past, but due to his writing.

But of course Lech Kaczyński and his wife is not the only patron proposed by the government. In Łódź for example the province governor decided that a street cannot be named after Witold Wandurski (1891-1934) a writer and communist, who emigrated to Soviet Union and then fell victim to Stalin’s Great Purge. Instead the street will be named after Kazimierz Kowalski, an obscure antisemitic activist of a right wing party, who up to late 1930’s was praising Hitler and arguing that Poland should side with him in the quest against Jews.

The whole “de-communisation” is one big farce. It seems like members of PiS that lacked courage to be brave in 1980, when the fight with communism required some balls, are desperately trying to make up for it today. They react hysterically wherever a slightest connection to communism can be made (unless, of course, a communist is a member of their party, like Piotrowicz, then their reaction is exactly opposite and they bend backwards to defend him), so in Gorzów for example they want to “de-communise” street name after Franciszek Walczak, a 22 year old militia officer who tried to save a woman from drunk Soviet soldiers and was shot by them in late 1940’s.

But of course local governments aren’t free of some absurds as well. For example in Myszków if you want to put “for sale” sign on your car, you have to pay up to 751 zł (~4565 KC) per day, as you are considered a street trader. In a strange coincidence it has emerged that a brother of the chief of the municipal police in that town is the owner of the user car dealership… I don’t know who is in power in Myszków, but I have to say that there is one kind of scandals that one can be almost sure that the person involved represents PiS. Such example can be a recent case from Świdnica, when one of the city councilors demanded for runners from Kenya to be banned from the city marathon. According to him, Kenyans are not true sportsmen, as they always win, and thus for them running marathons is just regular work. “The town does not allow circuses that use animals in, and yet we allow Kenyans, who’s performances are no different from circuses with animals”. This words caused outrage but Dariusz Sienko cannot see where he was wrong. “What racism?” – he asked – “I never used the word ‘racism’. Kenyans are welcome in Świdnica, just I don’t want them to get any money prizes”.

But that was a month ago, so it’s an old story. Today eyes of everything are focused on the new-old government of Mateusz Morawiecki (in case you missed it last week, Beata Szydło has become a deputy prime minister of her own government). The major topic that excites everyone is money. To be precise, the one in the pockets of the government members. Mateusz Morawiecki, as former banking manager, owned stocks in one of the bigger Polish banks worth more than 5 000 000 zł. That creates a conflict of interest as for last two years his decisions as the finance minister were influencing the price of those shares. But now, with becoming prime minister, he is also a direct supervisor of the Financial Ombudsman which gives him even more influence. After the campaign run by the young social-democratic party “Razem” Morawiecki was forced to sell them. This has ben summed up by “NIE”, a weekly paper run by Jerzy Urban, former spokesperson of the communist government with a meme. The caption says: Polish Dream – from a milionaire to a bootblack:

But while government salaries might be modest compared to those in banking, it is not that the ministers are starving. While the question that stirred up some noise – that of the lay-off payments allegedly awarded to all ministers of the previous government (which happen to be also ministers of the current one) – turned out to be fake news (forwarded by us as well, so we are happy to clarify it), as usual, there is a catch. They are not getting much poorer from not getting those 40 000 zł of lay-off pay each, as during the first 10 months of this year, Beata Szydło paid them special bonuses almost every month, so each of them got about 38 000 zł anyway. Yes, each of them, as according to the prime minister, each of them showed exceptional motivation and efficiency. Over two years of Beata Szydło government it’s members received total bonuses of 87 000 000 zł. Well, in some way it indeed makes this government truly exceptional…

Just think how much shooting ranges could be build for those money! The government program “shooting range in each county” is estimated to cost about 2 600 000 000 zł (as we all know when the healthcare is at the verge of collapse, there is no better way to spend money in our country). The government seems to have some fetish when it comes to militarization of the Polish society. Minister Macierewicz’s pet project of territorial army is being supported by the “military classes” in high schools and government support to numerous paramilitary organizations. Now the whole system will be complimented with all those shooting ranges. Despite objections of the European Union, the law is being changes to allow the above, including paramilitary organizations, to use automatic guns. This is presented as a way to save money, as this way the surplus ammunition of the obsolete Warsaw Pact standard, that for now has to be utilized at the cost of 5zł per bullet, can be put to some use instead.

But of course it’s not that Polish kids are raised in the military drill only like in North Korea. They can be also taught about love. To facilitate it, a company called “Catholic distribution” introduced a plush Jesus toy:

Ok, at 120 zł it might not be the cheapest toy around, but is there any other toy that can be used as a prayer help, or that kid can play with during the Holy Mass?

Speaking of love, our Hungarian brothers love us very much. Every kid in both countries knows that “Pole and Hungarian brothers be, good for fight and good for party.” (“Lengyel, magyar – két jó barát, Együtt harcol s issza borát”). No wonder that Ryszard Czarnecki, a PiS MEP, bragged on his twitter that he was interviewed by major Hungarian daily paper about the new Polish government. After all, for this government it is a success if anyone abroad writes about them in positive light. But as usual, some malicious people pointed out, that also in that case the article is nothing to be proud of for PiS. Apparently “Kaczyński bábszínháza” does not mean “All hail to Kaczyński, as he is the greatest statesman ever”. It translates to “Kaczyński’s puppet theatre” and the article says that the new prime minister is just another puppet and that for Kaczyński EU funds are more important than his voters. And this comes from Orban’s Hungary, from the country when nearly all the media are controlled by the government to the extend that Kaczyński can so far only dream about. Et tu, Brute?

As we are on the topic of media, apparently recent fine for TVN for informing about the protest outside the parliament last way was only “a slap in the wrist”. According to the female expert who is responsible for it, it should serve as a red warning light to other journalists, it should make them rethink their behavior. But apparently TVN has learned nothing, they just dared to inform that the court has overturned prosecutor’s decission to drop down the investigation into the matter of moving the parliamentary proceedings to a smaller room, where there was no space for the opposition MP’s. I wonder how much they will be fined for such blatant attempt to praise compromised judges, desperately clinging to unlawfully attained power, that dare to obstruct the action of prosecution that has already been freed from the influence of the communist mafia

And it seems that there is another candidate for a huge fine. A radio and Internet portal Tok FM just informed about illegal proceedings in the Senate. On Friday afternoon some of PiS senators have decided, that going home for the weekend is more important then voting on the law reforming national insurance contributions, so when opposition senators refrained from participating in the vote it turned out, that there is no quorum. But deputy speaker Maria Koc found a solution. She just manually counted all people present in the room and decided, that the quorum has been achieved. And what for? Could they not just ridicule Senator Rulewski from the opposition for wearing a greek tragedy mask during the proceedings regarding juidical reforms, like TVP did?

But let’s not be saddened by the fact, that the Polish parliament has indeed became a farce. Let’s look forward for the oncoming Christmas and cherish the fact, that everyone will be able to celebrate it worthily. Even Mateusz Kijowski, former leader of the opposition movement KOD, that has to step down after it has emerged that he avoids paying alimentary to his children from a previous marriage and after scandal with phony invoices for the IT services he allegedly provided to the organization. Thanks to crowd-funding action, he was given 32 000 zł of so called “Freedom grant”. Many people paid in, as due to the harassment of the government institution allegedly nobody is willing to give him a job or commission his services. Apparently even foreign companies, who employ Polish programmers en masse on distance working or huge international corporation that have their offices in our country are afraid of the might of the Polish tax man and other institution that have nothing better to do than harassing them for employing Kijowski. But even it that would be true, then there is a question of how it was that he was unemployed even before he got involved in politics? Well, in any case he might deserve this money. After all to be a “high class IT specialist” who is unable to find a job in today’s Poland is also an achievement.


This piece was published in Britske Listy
Photo: Wikipedia user Topory, CC 3.0

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