IF YOU thought the spaghetti western was a dead genre, think again – the Slovak government’s idea to hand out bread (chlieb) and pasta (cestoviny) to the poor to save them from rising food prices promises enough action, drama, and comedy to entertain not only the entire country, but the entire continent. And the good, the bad and the ugly are all joining the performance.
First, Prime Minister Iveta Radičová called a special meeting with the agriculture and economy ministers, at the end of which she declared that “the significant increase in [food] prices is caused mainly by developments on the global markets”, but that the government nonetheless “has certain means to react to these developments”. What she meant was revealed by Agriculture Minister Zsolt Simon, who is organising a tender to find someone to turn 45,000 tons of grain into flour and pasta, which will be distributed free to those in need.
“What are we, a country in central Africa? Instead of admitting their failure the cabinet is coming up with nonsense which embarrasses the entire country,” said former prime minister Robert Fico. “Handing out flour and pasta isn’t a solution, but an insult to human dignity,” the unions chimed in.
Now, having a 35-five-hour working week, as the unions are seeking in their most recent petition, or looting state coffers, as the previous administration did, probably doesn’t help the economy either. But for once, one is tempted to agree with the left that humanitarian workers handing out food supplies isn’t really what the moment requires. Or, if the situation is indeed so dire, then why did the Radičová government take the week off to enjoy spring holidays with their kids? Shouldn’t they be thinking of ways to prevent the looming humanitarian crisis instead?
Based on this week’s events an outsider might think that Slovakia is on the brink of famine, is run by a completely wacky government, and has a credible and rational opposition. None of that is true. But for the sake of the country let’s hope this spaghetti incident ends very soon.
28. Feb 2011 at 0:00 | Lukáš Fila