Saturday, August 08, 2009

Latvia: A clusterf**k at all levels?

I used to think that the reason this country is disintegrating is a combination of abysmal national politics unable to deal with the effects of a global recession. Now I have seen that the rot and ineptitude go down to the local level as well. All summer (and, apparently, starting in early spring), the municipality of Carnikava, north of Riga, where my summer cottage is located, has been expanding its municipal sewerage and water network to some of the summer cottage areas. Contractors have dug up the access road to my area, dug trenches, put in some kind of pipes and then repeatedly dug up, filled in and dug up some kind of connection point at the junction of the access road and the main road. I am not a sewerage and water works engineer, but it is obvious to anyone that someone here doesn't know what the fuck they are doing. There is no such thing as installing an expensive sewerage network by trial and error and repeatedly digging trenches and pits with heavy equipment, only to fill them in and dig them up again. And Carnikava is not the only place one sees this. In Riga, several of the main streets have been repaved only to be dug up again a few weeks later because now it is not the road surface that needs renovation, now it is some subsurface system -- water, sewerage, district heating, telecoms wiring, you name it. Irrational and wasteful digging is the rule, not the exception. That goes for Carnikava.

ADDED SUNDAY AUGUST 9
While detouring around this incredible mess, I noticed that this whole thing is being financed by the European Union's (EU) so-called Cohesion Fund. Cohesion means pulling together, but instead, it looks like EU funds have been wasted by idiots keeping me and many others separated from their summer houses by huge pits, fences and mazes of pipes of no obvious purpose. Maybe the EU should investigate WTF these people have been doing for months, with no end in sight, just the "false dawn" of paving the dug-up road again as if everything was almost finished and ready to return to normalcy... NOT!

Here is my video. To see it best, click through to YouTube and watch it in HD :):



7 comments:

Jānis Bērziņš said...

Juri, I gave up. I'm somehow convinced that Latvia, as we know it, is going to disintegrate in just a few years. Not a surprise that Latvia has one of the lowest levels of productivity, while people are working the biggest number of hours. Incompetence is the worst of the Soviet heritages to Latvia.

Jānis Bērziņš said...

And one more thing: maybe a way to pressure the authorities would be to make a home-page named "European tax-payer: see what Latvians are doing with your money". From the time voters from Germany, France, etc, start to show dissatisfaction with Latvia wasting their money, there will be pressures from the EU over Latvia. And than, something may happen.

rusantro said...

Tā laikam izskatās "ekonomikas sildīšana" - saņemt naudu par neizdarītu vai novilcinātu darbu.

Anonymous said...

Let's not forget Boston's Big Dig. Municipal projects are a great way to fill ones pockets.

Anonymous said...

To Mr. Janis Berzins
How convienient to blame it all on the "Soviet heritages". You've been independent for almost 20 years. When you broke away from the Soviet Union you had a decent industrial and agricultural base. Perhaps, not the most advanced in the world but a solid foundation to build upon. Besides, you had NO debts. The damned "occupants" took them wnen they left. Is it Soviet fault that you almost completely dismantled and bankrupted both industrial and agricultural businesses without building anything new. Is it Soviet fault that the number of your "desk jockeys" has grown significantly since 1991. Did "soviet heritage" dictated exclusion of hundreds of thousands of residents from participating in running of the country. You wasted a great potential and expertise these "alien" folks could've provided for the benefit of Latvia. But you didn't forget to tax the hell out of them. Talk about taxation without representation. Did "Soviet heritage" force you to take these huge credits which you cannot pay back right now. Maybe people who ran the country for the last 18 years and the folks who voted them in the offices are to blame and not some stupid "soviet heritages". It took 47 years for the Soviet Union to turn you into the face of the country and it took you 18 years to turn Latvia into the bankrupt country that begs IMF for a loan, shuts down hospitals and schools and slashes services to the bare bones. So next time before you feel the urge to assign blame look in the mirror first. You have an entire generation of Latvians who grew up after the breakup of the USSR and have no firsthand knowledge of it. I got an idea! Why don't you appoint a commision which will count the losses due to "soviet heritages" and add it up to the "compensation for the occupation".

Wannabe Sorosieši said...

Soviet productivity and use of technology were very poor. I think that the "blame the soviets" argument is simplistic, but relevant. It takes more than 20 years to shrug off the effects of the occupation. As for the generation that grew up since.... at their oldest they are 20-25, what do you expect from them? We still have a civil service and political class dominated by people who grew up in "krievu laiks."

For more on soviet productivity http://tinyurl.com/mpcowa

Anonymous said...

To Mr. Wannabe...
Unfortunately, you missed my point. I didn't argue about levels of productivity. I took an issue with the view that all current problems in Latvia, even the most trivial ones such as the one described in the blog, are somehow due to "soviet heritages". Nonsence! IMHO, it IS irrelevant. What is going on in Latvia right now is the DIRECT result of policies conducted in the last 18 years and has nothing to do with so-called "soviet heritages". Don't blame your mistakes, bad decisions and incompetence of your bureaucrats on someone else. One must be responsible for the consequences of one's decisions and actions. It applies both to individuals and countries. You were in charge of your own destiny. You say 20 years is not enough "to shrugg off the effects of occupation". Russian "liberals" might disagree with you here. They hammer Putin right now for not turning Russia into heaven on Earth in 10 years. In their opinion, 10 years was plenty of time for him to accomplish this feat. It seems that industrial, agricultural and social base is the only effect of "occupation" you've done your darndest to successfully shrug off. What "soviet heritage" prompted you to subscribe to that "post-industrial society" nonsence when you can get rich quickly by shuffling virtual money from one computer screen to another and borrowing insane amounts of money instead of busting your butts at the factories and farms? Riddle me this. What happened to the billions of Euros that EU has been pouring into Latvia for several years now? What new factories, plants or anything significant has been built since 1991? How Latvia is going to repay its massive debts? What really amazes me is that nobody talks about actually EARNING money by making stuff and selling it. Everybody just talks about slashing budgets, services, wages, pensions(!!!) and increasing taxes. Where are the money to repay debts are going to come from? I also can't accept your argument about your bureaucrats who allegedly are held back by their Soviet past. Their Soviet past didn't prevent them from becoming avid anticommunists and russophobes as soon as the country bit the dust. Their Soviet education helped them to make splendid careers and money in EU's institutions. Look at Gribauskaite in Lithuania. Her Soviet and communist past did't prevent her from becoming EU Commisioner and President of her country. Piebalgs is another example. The same goes for Estonian and Latvian desk jockeys. Besides, I suspect that quite a few of them were not members of CPSU or agreed with Soviet political and economic system even though they grew up and lived in the SU. Besides, nobody forces you to vote for them. You elected those folks yourselves. As far as your young people is concerned, I expect them to think, to be politically active, to participate in the running of the country. 20 and especially 25 year olds are old enough to get involved in the political process if they care about their country and its people, if they care about changing the "divide and conquer" policies that Latvian government has been pursuing for the last 18 years and that have contributed greatly to the current sad state of affairs. However, I'm under impression that a lot of them will resist any changes if they upset a virtual monopoly of Latvians on power and allow Russians to enter the upper levels of the government. They would rather see the country go to hell in a handbasket than share power with Russians. I hope I'm wrong and my impression is incorrect. OK, I'm going to wrap it up. I'm a political junkie, I can talk and argue about it forever:)