Sunday, 13 June 2010

Good time in bad times

In the previous post I tried to put my worries into a broader perspective and I strongly feel this thread deserves some elaboration.

On Friday, while damning the deadly heat I looked back on one of the coolest days of January 2010. On that day, despite all troubles I strongly and clearly felt under my skin this year would be exceptionally good for me. I had an intense inkling of bright days ahead, rosy time against all odds. I don’t know what prompted that unbidden bout of optimism, but it was the first time I felt such a wave of confidence and unfortunately it hasn’t happened since then. Next weeks and months brought ups and downs, luckily the latter prevailed. If somebody asked me if 2010 (hitherto) has been a good year for me, my answer would be positive. I achieved one roaring success, I did only one stupid thing (in fact I paid the price of trusting a fellow man and according to my rules I’m suffering the consequences of my own recklessness and getting over the loss), but the reason for me to be happy is that nothing bad happened. I wasn’t affected by any misery, I’ve been feeling safe, I could easily pursue my goals and broaden my horizons. Everything seems to indicate the second half of the year should be no worse than the first one, but beware… I wrote on this blog a few times the worst strikes us out of the blue. Whenever we take it for granted nothing bad can happen to us we lay ourselves open to mishaps. The very awareness of mishaps is what prompts us to take precautions to avoid them.

The paragraph above was on a micro level. I am anonymous man in the crowd, if you pass me by on a street you may not recognise me, I am a part of a nation, a group of people from different backgrounds, from all walks of life, with different social status and, what is the most important, with different problems. Now let’s ask the same question again – has 2010 been a good year for Poland / Poles? Here the answers would vary.

Sometimes (and more and more often as the time goes by), in spite of my sanity I ditch the concept that everything can be justified rationally and ask myself if there is a plan, a deity that looks at us from above, rewards and punishes human beings for their deeds and misdeeds. Was there a punishment?

Just look back at 2010 in Poland. It started with harsh winter. No matter if you like severe snowfalls and long-lasting cold snaps it hit you. How many times did you have to trudge through the snow, wait for a train or bus that didn’t come? How much more did you have to pay for heating your house or flat? Harsh winter affected our wallets, affected dynamics of Polish (and not only) GDP, but after all it happens once in several years and in comparison to what followed it was really unimportant…

In March I thought Poland was in the luck. Heavy snowfalls didn’t cause a flood because snow was melting rather slowly and the ground wasn’t frozen and could absorb litres of water. We got away with a flood, not for long…

Then 10 April came as a shock. A string of human errors, negligence and bad weather led up to the biggest tragedy in post-war history of Poland. Was it planned? No, I don’t mean if Russian secret services planned to assassinate Polish president and liquidate some other inconvenient statesmen. Was it a sign from providence? Should it guide us, prompt us to change? The tragic accident was soon built up with a myth of outstanding president who passed away in cursed Katyn ground. Was the ash cloud a sign of what once was called “God’s displeasure”? For me it was a sign, though not from the providence that we should not build our national identity on cult of death in tragic circumstances. A Pole should not be associated with a martyr. We cannot forget about our history, full of ups and downs, unfortunately the downs prevail, but isn’t is the opportunity to learn from our ancestor’s mistakes? Should we be more forward-looking and less past-oriented?

After the last bodies of fatalities of Smolensk crash were buried the rains began to fell and here we have another disaster – the worst flood in this millennium. Thousands of people lost their belongings and property, the have to pull themselves together and start a new life, from scratch. The flood gives room for fault-finding (who gave the planning permission?) and makes us wiser after the event. For how long, I’d ask. As an economist I also try to foresee the implications for the economy. At the moment there are no plans of budget amendments, but the deficit is one the rise. Temporarily rebuilding damaged infrastructure and roads may create jobs and stimulate demand, but in the long run it will bring it down. People, local and national governments will have to run up debts to finance the reconstruction and then pay it off. The money they’ll use to repay debts won’t be spent – won’t give someone else a job, won’t boost VAT revenues, etc.

Next Sunday we’ll go to the polls to elect a new president. I look at the campaign, at candidates and like never before I wish Lech Kaczynski was alive and could end his term in December. I don’t know anyone who was in seventh heaven when they heard the news of late president’s decease. I suppose there were few and far between such people. In truth those who didn’t like Mr Kaczynski remained indifferent, not elated.

Yes, I fear Mr Kaczynski wins the election. And I won’t be surprised if it happens. If nothing changes during the coming week no candidate stands a chance to win on 20 June, so we’ll have a run-off in which some voters will vote for and many against. The funny thing that the target for both groups is the same candidate. Jarosław Kaczynski has a group of stalwart supporters and a group of adversaries, both are numbered in millions. Mr Komorowski’s plight will be fully deserved. Look at the list of his slip-ups. The caucus of Mr Komorowski could prepare a similar list of blunders made by Mr Kaczynski and his twin brother, but hey, Mr Komorowski campaign is a string of cock-ups, while Mr Kaczynski doesn’t appear publicly often and his campaign is an excellent example of nifty political marketing. Right now I’m sure no matter who becomes a president I won’t be proud of him. Mr Kaczynski will surely be continuing the aborted mission of his brother, Mr Komorowski has no makings of head of state who could be active in international politics. If he becomes a president we will just avoid rows between government and head of state and he won’t veto the laws Civic Platform would like to pass.

Over. If there’s something remarkable I could mention at the end, I read somewhere (I tried to find and substantiate it, but search engine let me down) someone’s vision, also dated January 2010. They said in April there would be a very tragic accident in which many official would die, in July there will be another national mourning and in September a reputable and famous Pole would die. For 99.9 per cent it doesn’t happen, but just in case I’m warning you in advance.

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