I thought a while after reading your article about the Fico government's newly granted power to regulate prices, and why many people, including myself, are uncomfortable with this government control.
I lived in Vienna during Austria's transition to the euro in 2002 and though people did have concerns about price hikes, they quickly realised that the market would take care of itself and it was a relatively smooth transition. These past months I've been assuring my Slovak friends that it will probably be a painless transition for them as well and their worries are unnecessary.
But now I'm beginning to have my doubts. As an American who lived in Slovakia for four years, I can say there is one major difference between Austrians and Slovaks.
Austrians never experienced systemic corruption (especially 40 years of it) as a legacy of communism. Though corruption has lessened in Slovakia in recent years, it is still largely pervasive. (Didn't I just read an article a few weeks ago about widespread cheating with cell phones
So maybe Fico is right. Maybe there are still many unscrupulous people who wouldn't think twice
about making some fast cash by abusing the switch, people who lost their moral compass a long time ago after choosing to live by the creed: "Ak nekradneš, okrádaš svoju rodinu" (If you don’t steal,
you’re stealing from your family).
Fico may know Slovaks better than I gave him credit for. But I hope this is not the case. I hope
systemic stealing is a thing of the past and a smooth transition to the euro will prove this.
29. Sep 2008 at 0:00