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SLOVAK WORD OF THE WEEK

Viagra

WHAT would you expect to find in the pockets of a cabinet minister following a car accident, which happened after he went to organise his granddaughter’s baptism? If you guessed condoms, Viagra, and €7,000 in cash, you got it right. Or at least so it seemed for five days, as Ján Richter’s press office failed to deny press reports on the incident. Finally, they did issue a rebuttal, admitting only that Richter had “a couple of thousand euros”.

WHAT would you expect to find in the pockets of a cabinet minister following a car accident, which happened after he went to organise his granddaughter’s baptism? If you guessed condoms, Viagra, and €7,000 in cash, you got it right. Or at least so it seemed for five days, as Ján Richter’s press office failed to deny press reports on the incident. Finally, they did issue a rebuttal, admitting only that Richter had “a couple of thousand euros”.

Several questions remain open: Why did it take so long for the minister to remember what he had with him? Isn’t a couple of thousand a little too much, even if you want to buy a really fancy stroller? Anyway, if the triad had proved to be right, it would have perfectly symbolised the three things Richter’s Ministry of Labour, Family and Social Affairs needs most at the moment.

Caution: The ministry has recently come with several proposals that received widespread criticism. That is not that unusual for this government, but these were so bad, that they actually had to be recalled and that happens only rarely. Taking money from working moms or families whose kids break school rules are not just bad ideas, they can also be immensely unpopular. It seems Richter, more than any of his colleagues, could use some protection against unwanted conceptions.

Better investing: One of Slovakia’s key problems is that money is spent on nonsense. The state continues to hand out cash to people who don’t need it or who just outright waste it. That’s the case of many, if not most Roma–oriented projects. Teaching unemployed, barely literate people to work with PowerPoint, or how to support a local football team – these are among the projects funded in recent years. Even more money looks set to go to support Roma. Let’s hope not all of it ends up in the suit of some rich white guy.

Better demographics: Even if all state finances were spent on meaningful goals, a huge problem looms – a rapidly aging population. There’s little the government can do about that unless more men realise that life is not all about work – you also have to find time for a little loving.

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