For the last two years my work has kept me headquartered in central Slovakia. During this time I have depended on The Slovak Spectator to keep up with the local news and politics. In particular I enjoy comments from the short-term visitors to this beautiful country and I thought it was time to add my two crowns worth.
First, I agree that the country is beautiful. Wherever I have gone I have found the people to be very kind and generous to a fault. It is therefore disconcerting when I hear of problems being "unique to Slovakia". Almost all of the letters to this column seem to focus on corruption. True, graft exists, but as recent news from the West suggests, Slovakia is not alone, and as elsewhere, the reasons given for this situation go much deeper.
Personal buying power is a function of the general national product. Production however is the responsibility of the private sector and is under control and taxed by the public. Should the public sector and its generosity to the unemployed become too large the private sector loses any incentive to produce. Prices increase, income values decrease and a national malaise sets in. Under these conditions, graft then becomes the norm.
There is a way out. Instead of paying idle hands to stay idle, those in power should think about hiring them. The combination of excess bureaucratic talent and available labour could be put to good use. There is much to do in Slovakia - waste processing and infrastructure maintenance to mention just two. Providing such work for the unemployed and utilising excess bureaucratic talent to administer these projects would solve multiple problems. Safe and clean public transportation would reduce pressure from overcrowded roads. A pristine, garbage free countryside would also do much for the tourist industry.
This is not a new idea. Government-sponsored public projects have worked elsewhere. I hope that those in power will eventually develop the intestinal fortitude and political will to solve this problem. Then perhaps future visitors who use this column to voice their criticisms will have to dig a little deeper in order to find fertile ground for complaint.
11. Jun 2001 at 0:00