Friday, July 03, 2009

It ain't just me, babe...

Some people think I am too depressive and pessimistic writing that Latvia has basically destroyed all trust in state institutions and is heading for some form of failed nightwatchman government pretending to rule an increasingly alienated society drifting, at best, into some form of cooperative anarchy (organizing replacements of failed public services privately or by volunteer activity).
In fact, I was gently criticized for my pessimism by a Latvian academic (former "exile" Latvian) I met while grocery shopping.
Now, a prominent businessman/architect in Liepaja has said much the same in an interview with my former employer, the business newspaper Dienas bizness. Uldis Pīlēns says the way that the government has tried to react to the crisis has essentially destroyed public trust in fundamental democratic values -- the so-called legal reliance on getting a just return for taxes and social fees paid. Instead, pensions have been reduced, working pensioners driven from their jobs and teachers reduced to working for less pay educating future generations than Latvian janitors (sētnieki) ar paid for sweeping the streets with a broom made of twigs.
He also says that the behavior of the government in leaping to save the foundering Parex Bank with the first international loans it received, then acting chaotically to appear to cut the budget to get the next tranche (pensions won't be touched, then pensions are cut) has badly damaged Latvia's international image in the eyes of potential investors. A level of unemployment has been created that it will take 6 or 7 years to recover from. So Pīlēns, too, is saying that most of the next decade in Latvia is lost due to the cumulative mistakes and incompetance of several Latvian governments.


Mārcis said...

ULdis Pīlēns did it with clear intention of returning to politics, where he has been involved for quite some time. As you probably know, he has been a board member for TP ( Peoples Party) for many years. Why are you doing that - I am not sure, and do not understand.

Mr.Key said...

Yes, Juris, but the problem is that you write like people and nations receive their government in some kind of lottery. And like if we have bad government (I agree to that), then the only thing we have to do is to think bad things and emigrate.

Thats us - everybody in latvia who needs to ACT. The miracles does not happen, its a hard work of everyone and sometimes its just it - things in the real life are different than "best practices" in textbooks... people should be warned that it is difficult and sometimes they will never reach their targets, but thats true everywhere.. Yes, its easy to emmigrate to some other country, but.. how it is in Norwegian "stalts kā ozols" or "biezpiena sieriņš Kārums"? So, we live here, love this country and what we need is a quality work of journalists, not playing with worst case scenarios or false belief that somebody is watching.. (Diena case - they failed, maybe without them we have had even better democraticy, etc., they made us asleep.. hope you got the idea..)

I really do not beleive there are no big problems in Germany, Poland, France, the UK, etc..

Besides to that, there are many problems in so called developed countries - they have enermous immigration, most of people are simply stupid, etc.

Brian Worley said...

Juris, excellent post! I see Marcus & Mr. Key taking the ahh too typical Latvian response to things. That is to keep quiet and wait for the people of Latvia to somehow get together to solve their problems!

Latvia isn't an island fellas! You might think this; but the world watches and probably wonders why Latvia cannot get it's act together? Upon reading Juris' blog, the international community starts to get the picture from abroad. So whenever someone tells it like it is (as Juris does), you would be wise to listen rather than wishing he were to keep silence!

Latvia at one time fought for their independence and has since rested upon their past success. Latvia doesn't have the answers! They cannot even solve easy issues such as maniac rednecks behind the steeringwheel!

Mr. Key's "best practices" comment really drives me up the wall. What do you have against reading? That is the epitomy of arrogance to think that it has to be some local's proposal who knows little rather than an expert's advise to solve a problem! Are Latvians afraid that consulting an expert might expose them as ignorant? Hurt someone's fragile ego? Is one's ego more important than your country??? Evidentially so!

Democracy works elsewhere around the world BUT NOT HERE! Why is this so? To me it seems that
if A LOCAL LATVIAN didn't come up with an idea...they will not consider it! Even if an experienced expert were consulted! The blind lead the blind as they all follow each other over the cliff!

Latvia has been greatly helped, yet they continue to blunder. At some point a country needs to be able to sustain itself rather than repeated bailouts from abroad. I have never witnessed such an obstinate people...and it looks like they will reap what they have sown!

This all reminds me of Benjamin Franklin's words after writing the U.S. constitution, a woman asked him Sir, what have you given us?. He replied A republic ma'am, if you can keep it!

Mr.Key said...

Yeah, Brian, we have probably the best laws in the EU. So what?

I am not against best practices. You did get me wrong. What I try to tell is that it will not become better if people and journalists just write and read. No, it does not work! Action is needed.

Journalists should write about positive examples, should analyze the experience of other nations and come up with suggestions what should READERS do, how to act. Either readers should write letters to ministries (have you read such article?), either they have to work hard with governmental and private organisations to get what they want (have you read any article where it is told how customer complaints should be sent to private companies? and what we should expect? no, there are only articles saying that some company sold bad product, uhh, ahh, how bad it is, we should emigrate, etc.) Journalists should talk with readers, not just show that they know what politicans do or what some expert says, or what is the worst case scenario.. it maybe worked in the past or in other countries where the society has appropriate background (and know how to act after such article). Why do print media is being bought less and less?

When I try to read Diena, Dienas Bizness or other media, I dont see any place which directly applies to me - "politicans decided, ministers decided, some big organisation decided" .. hello, what we should do after reading?

It was just only one time when Diena asked people to come to Doma square for a rally. And you know what? People DID came! What did follow? Nothing did follow.. thanks Diena, I was there, I could be in the next rally with more friends if it was organised. I could call every senators assistant (deputāta palīgs - an institution about which nobody knows..), etc., if it was a good, organised actions.

You say we should listen? But wait? Why? We are not idiots who think that journalists are superheroes, some kind of higher level beeings.. What we see is that listening does not help. Yes, we listen, but we listen to those ones who also listens us. We are not sheepes. Good things should be done, not written about and read.

And no, I dont beleive we should emmigrate and buy one way tickets, thats the last thing we should do. But Juris does not write about the first, second and other ones we should do before..........

Mr.Key said...

Also one note to the statement about why democraticy do not work here. No, it is not about local latvians. Its about the government which is somewhat corrupted, somewhat blind, somewhat a historically created agonic institution. They do not listen to local and foreign experts. Do not put blame on us - latvian nation who also do not understand why the recommendations were not taken in to account.

Also in many cases it was true that local experts did also a good work.. we also understand english, we also read, we also study.. and we have good education. Sometimes our experts are even better than experts from EU and USA, which were paid hundreds of dollars per day, the amount equal to the local experts monthly sallary or even above that. By the way thats the one reason why we dont like such "help" from foreign experts.

And dont get me wrong again - the most important factor why good recommendations were not taken in to account was that government and leaders in governmental institutions were not listening. It was waste of time and money to consult them.. they were busy with their cheap political schemas. Many of such leaders did not have university education, their skills were in question not to say that the nation does not understand how such people become ministers (remember Mr. Nothing Special?). So, in Latvia's case that woman probably do not have even a chance to ask a question or receive an answer "go away" in the best case. Ouch, I am wrong - when Jaunais Laiks come to talk with a people at Raiņa piemineklis, old people started to put the blame on E.Repse and others about the current situation. Haha, they even do not understand that Jaunais Laiks was not even close to possibility to make any decision at so called "Treknie gadi". Not even worth to mention I can't think what should womans ask to Tautas Partija leaders.. "where is my money?" probably could be a good question to them.. :D

Juris Kaža said...

Mr. Key',
Please have a look at this interesting blog and blog item mentioned in twitter by Valdis Krebs, a Latvian-American social network analyst.

Mr.Key said...

Thanks, Juris, great article. I am doing all this for last few years.

That is what I tell is a positive example. Replace exclusive and expensive lifestyle promoter journals like "Klubs" with such ones, which promote productive, healthy, money saving lifestyle and we will be good.

Thats a problem we have - in old countries old people can learn young ones how to live. Young ones can choose elders to learn from. We were in a situation when everybody just grabbed everything they can. Now they pay for it. They failed, not Latvia, not every latvian! Those who work hard - those benefit and will benefit even more.