Meanwhile in Cuckooland 98

With the election coming, the bag of financial scandals ripped open. And it seems, that the corruption in the financial control authority and Kaczyński’s shady development businesses are just the top of the iceberg. The issue of the overpaid assistants of the chief of the National Bank of Poland also seems to go deeper than previously estimated: everybody wondered what is an actual job of Martyna Wojciechowska: a head of PR department responsible for bank communication that nobody ever saw doing any communicating. Now we know: she is responsible for giving promotional contracts to other companies, notably to the one that employs her husband… It has also emerged, that the Bank hired a luxury villa during Davos conference (despite fact, that they had accomodation in a hotel) and that the chairman travels by a helicopter.

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The scandal with Polish Red Cross in Lower Silesia also turns out to be bigger than previously estimated. Not only PiS activists were making money on selling second hand clothing stolen from donations, but they also used food donated to Red Cross to feed people during their election campaign.

The newest data from the advertisement market also clearly shows, that PiS pumps enormous amount of money from state controlled companies into pro-government media. When Kaczyński’s party was in opposition, they often complained, that state controlled companies don’t support right wing media – which was true, as back then state companies were taking care, that they buy advertising space in either most read papers, or the industry magazines, so not much of their promotion budget was spent in right wing media, which sell little number of copies when compared to the market leaders such as Polityka or Gazeta Wyborcza. Now it seems that all state advertisement budget is directed to the papers related to PiS: some of them recorded the growth of 1143% in the income from advertising state controlled companies, which means that nowadays 40% of the publisher’s income comes from that source (which is about 8 times more than average). Meanwhile Polityka and Newsweek, titles that are chosen by more than 50% of readers, have only 0.5% share in the advertisement market of the state controlled companies – there is no coincidence, that both of those titles are known for their sharp criticism of the PiS government.

But at least this week we haven’t had any crashes of the government limos. Which does not mean, that their drivers suddenly became professionals. The old hands mostly left the service when PiS disbanded previous institution responsible for the protection of the VIP – Biuro Ochrony Rządu, Bureau of Government Security – and created a new one called Służba Ochrony Państwa – State Protection Service. They refused to be ruled by dilettantes and don’t want to have anything to do with the new institution. As a result, during the recent Iran summit in Poland US Secret Services even openly expressed their disappointment with the lack of professionalism of their Polish counterparts. But the last drop prompting the resignation of the chief of this service was the recent incident involving the inexperienced driver, who was sent to pick up Prime Minister Morawiecki from his home. He accidentally switched his sirens and blue lights, waking up residents of the neighbourhood, then panicked due to being unable to switch them off and drove back to his base, where he left the keys inside his car, locking himself out.

There is apparently no footage from this incident, but the clip from the old Leslie Nielsen’s movie seems to provide a pretty good approximation of what had happened:

Things are not going well in the army as well. When Antoni Macierewicz scrapped a deal with France to purchase helicopters for the navy and the army, he promised to get Poland a better deal. Nothing like that happened, and so apart from planned modernisation of 30-years old Polish helicopters “Sokół”, the army decided to bring back to service 50-years old Mi-2, that were about to be mothballed.

But at least both of those helicopters were manufactured in Poland and there is plenty of spare parts to them. The problem with fighter jets is more difficult: Polish Air Force, apart from some F-16, still uses many soviet MiG-29’s, as since Soviet Union completed a big order just after communism collapsed in Poland, the Polish Air Force decided to stick to them, and even purchased more from Czechoslovakia and Eastern Germany. Those, while still being one of the best fighter planes in the world, cause problems due to lack of proper servicing – over last two years four of them crashed. Last summer a pilot died because the substitute parts manufactured in Polish workshops were not up to the job and his ejector seat failed. After that all soviet-made planes (that include Su-22) were grounded until the solution was found. Unfortunately the ejector seat seems to be not the only maintenance problem, as just while I am writing this, another one of MiG-29 crashed near Warsaw (luckily for the pilot this time the ejector seat worked fine).

There are also other kind of problems in the armed forces. An officer was accused by two female soldiers for that he attacked them and hit them in the face. The thing is that the situation took place during hand-to-hand combat training, and he is an martial arts instructor. He asks how is he supposed to teach Krav Maga to recruits: by showing them power-point slide shows? The military prosecution does not share his doubts and the matter is under investigation. He might be facing with up to two years in prison. Maybe this is an explanation why Polish army does not want to modernize? If you might get in trouble by inviting female recruits and teaching them Krav Maga, perhaps it’s safer to stick to old school and teach male recruits how to defend themselves from someone going after them with a banana or a bunch of loganberries?

Deviating from the old ways can put everyone in trouble nowadays. Unless you do it along with the government’s decision that is. The disastrous reform of the education system, for example, that resulted in overcrowding of schools, overworking of pupils and two year’s cumulation at the entry exams to high schools. The parents and pupils hate it, so much that a trend can be noticed, when thousands of pupils deliberately fail one or more items in order to repeat the year, thus avoiding the tough competition and conditions in the year of the cumulation. But shame of them, because if we believe the government the school reform was, of course, an overwhelming success. But some parents trying to undermine the school system even more! In Olsztyn they donated books to school library, and some of them turned to be an awful LGBT propaganda: a story of Sam The Snail, who is confused, as at school the teacher separates kids into girls and boys and being, as the snails are, androgynous, Sam feels as he does not belong anywhere. But this is not all yet: the book is full of such terrible stories: there are poly-amourous monkeys, gay storks, transsexual fish and pair of squirrel lesbians raising a child!

Despite the book is being written according to well established science (one of its author is a biologist), the school got in trouble for allowing this book to be admitted to school library. The education ombudsman have sent over 10 inspections, that desperately try to find something wrong with the way how the school is running.

They look for something that would allow head teacher to be sacked – as the Snail book is not sufficient, as it was not yet put on the library stock. But in Małopolska district a head teacher is being sacked for allowing volunteers from Algeria to come to school and talk to pupils about the country they are from. Those are not first volunteers to visit this school, previously it hosted Chinese and Indian guests. But apparently inviting Muslims to school was one step too far. Would it be a coincidence that Kraków’s School Ombudsman calls for children to “take example from king Jan III Sobieski (who rescued Vienna from the Ottoman siege in 1683 – TO) who was able to protect whole Europe from Islam”. She wishes them that they remain faithful to Poland and God… She is also known for accusing newly elected mayor of Warsaw of “promoting paedophilia” after he signed the declaration that his city will protect rights of LGBT people…

No wonder, that teachers have enough. Nobody would want to work under such terrible supervision, surely not for the money they are paid. As I wrote last week, they prepare to go on strike, hoping to force government to improve their scandalously low pay. Apparently the government does not understand one thing: if teachers finally give up and quit their jobs in order to work in the office, supermarket, or emigrate to become builders or lorry drivers (all those professions pay better than being a teacher in Poland*), it will be easy for them. But even if being a teacher will finally mean a decent salary, one won’t be able to quickly make teachers out of office workers or lorry drivers…

So far PiS offered teachers only a free advice: “there is no requirement for celibacy for teachers, they can receive child benefit as everyone else” said a chief of presidential office, seconded by PiS MEP. Is that a sophisticated way to tell them to go fuck themselves?

I guess this would be all that a certain man from Łodź, who battles a long term illness, has left to do. Social services refused to pay for his rehabilitation, saying that there is no point, as he will never be able to work again. Being deemed unfit for work, he applied for incapacity benefit, only to be told, that he is fit to work. Let’s hope his story ends better than this of the main character from a British movie “I, Daniel Blake”…

When facing the state institutions, the citizen has no chance, and one can expect the state to attack at any moment. Just like Ms Elżbieta Pęciak, who back in 2015 for 37 000 zł purchased a second hand Škoda car. About a month ago police has confiscated her car, because a previous owner still has 1500 zł to pay to the bank that financed it. The previous owner was a Czech citizen and being unable to track him, debt collectors went after the car’s new owner. All despite the fact that even if there was anything wrong with the car legal situation at the moment of sale (and all paperwork was perfectly OK), if there was no ill will on her part she had become its rightful owner after three years…

Some can at least hope that other European countries will help them. That was a case of Ludmiła Kozłowska, an Ukrainian citizen and resident of Poland who was deported and put on Schengen blacklist for that she, along with her Polish husband, runs an NGO that openly criticizes PiS government. Despite Polish diplomacy kicking and screaming, the accusations against her were deemed to be phony and she was just granted residency rights in Belgium and was removed from the Schengen blacklist.

But the worst thing is, that PiS power is being undermined not only from outside. The fifth column can be found even in TVP. Joanna Lichocka, ex-journalist and PiS MP complained, that TVP invites “too many members of the opposition” to its flagship program. According to her, the proportions of the guests makes it impossible to carry the ruling party’s message across.

Is that true? Someone showed this outrageous bias by marking all guests from PiS invited to the program in February, judge for yourself:

*To give some background from my own experience: I was supposed to be a physic teacher in Poland, but I decided to emigrate to Scotland. In 2006 I was making a monthly salary of freshly graduated Polish teacher by driving a truck for 15.5 hours (!). Today it is apparently a little better, but even a truck driver employed by Polish company can easily make three times more than a young Polish teacher.

This piece was written for Britské listy

Pictures used: Leslie Nielsen by Alan Light (CC 2.0 via Wikipedia)  
BMWBOR by Sebastian M (CC 2.0 via Wikipedia)
Graphic by user FlasH. 



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