Friday, November 23, 2007

Tusk drones on for three hours


Meanwhile Kaczynski, Gosiewski and Dorn lose consciousness, as did most of Poland.

It was agony. Like listening to paint dry. Donald Tusk, the new prime minister, delivered his ‘expose’ – or policy statement – outlining his government’s policy in parliament, this morning.

He went on and on and on and on…for three hours and five minutes.

At one point someone sent him a note: “It’s time to sit down..’. But he wasn’t finished yet.

The main points were that he would be reducing taxes but increasing wages for public workers[!].

He would be getting troops out of Iraq next year (as they probably would have been anyway) but staying in Afghanistan.

He will be more cooperative within the EU and will even be nicer to the Russians.

And there was some other stuff too, but I...fell asleep half way through.

Who does Tusk think he is, with these long, long speeches? Fidal Castro?

21 comments:

Harry said...

Better to give a long speech than to follow the western example of just spitting out a series of soundbites for broadcast on the evening news. And far better to talk about things which the government will do than to follow the duck brothers' example of just talking about all the reasons that the government can't do anything.

opamp said...

Duh! If he couldn't fit in 15 minutes, that means he has nothing to say.

The main points were that he would be reducing taxes but increasing wages for public workers[!].

That does actually make sense. Poland now has a problem because people working in the public sector are woefully underpaid compared to those working in a private business. That leads to negative selection for socially important jobs, like teachers. Not to mention that it encourages corruption.

So the new cabinet should cut the number of public jobs (and there is a lot of bureaucratic fat to be cut) and use the money saved to raise pay for the remaining ones.

jannowak57 said...

The length of the speech was proportional to the things that need to be addressed in Poland. His government will live or die based on the results of their actions, the promises are known, now it’s time to deliver.

The initial period will be very telling as to the metal of the man, as he starts to reform he will be met with the usual obstacles. We’ll learn soon enough if he understands how to move policy into action.

Poland is essentially like a cow stuck in the mud, if you want it to move you need to light a fire under its ass.

michael farris said...

It would have been cool if PiS had been able to stand up in unison and yell "¿Por quĂ© no te callas?"*

But then again, what am I thinking using PiS and cool in the same sentence....

*what the Spanish king said to Chavez, I'd say a better translation into English is something like 'why can't you be quiet?'

beatroot said...

He could have said the whole thing in 15 monutes, easy. And even after 3 hours there were glaring silences on social issues. Liberals fooled into thinking he was a 'liberal' will be upset.

As for public media - things get even worse. He said that they would not be privatized...but did he say that regional radio and TV will be under control of local authorities? If that is true then it will be a disaster and is anti-democratic. Tusk's fate is not really in his own hands.

As for the 'economic miracle'. Lower tax will lead to better services? It all depends if they can maintain and increase economic growth....which does not look lokely. World growth will slwo next year, so they are going to have to get lucky to deliver.

What is in this for PSL? There will be lots of changes to the CAP at the EU at the end of this year - to be elligable for CAP subs the size of the farm will now have to be well over the 1 acre that they do now. That's about 100,000s of farmers going to have to get their act together.

Grzegorz said...

Not to get into a tedious semantic discussion:

"¡callate!" usually is translated as "Shut up!"

"Por que no te callas?" is a rhetorical question that is meant with a tinge of belittlement -- te = direct pronoun form of tu, or you; one normally does not use the tu form during diplomatic discussions, and instead defers to the more formal Usted form (hence the belittlement).

I suspect the reason the translators translated the king's statement as "why don't you shut up?" is because that is the standard translation of "callarse" as a command (as in the first instance above). The connotation is slightly different when used in the form of a rhetorical question, and not as a direct command. However, translators are trained to standardize their translations whenever possible. I suspect "callarse" will usually be translated as "shut up" whenever it is used in the context of a confrontation or argument between two speakers.

I apologize to everyone who unnecessarily wasted 5 minutes of their lives reading this comment.

--
Grzegorz
www.miaskiewicz.com

opamp said...

but did he say that regional radio and TV will be under control of local authorities? If that is true then it will be a disaster and is anti-democratic.

That would probably refer to TVP3, which was originally controlled by local TVP offices, but has been recently centralized and rebranded TVP Info. Local state TV channels belong more under local authorities than under central state authorities, if you ask me...

michael farris said...

"Not to get into a tedious semantic discussion"

I love tedious semantic discussions, especially about fine points of meaning in translation (no, really, I do).

"¡callate!" usually is translated as "Shut up!"

yup!

"Por que no te callas?" is a rhetorical question that is meant with a tinge of belittlement"

I agree, rather like "why can't you be quiet?" (without the tu-usted distinction missing in English, but clearly no answer will satisfier the asker)

"However, translators are trained to standardize their translations whenever possible."

UGHH!!! I _HATE_ THAT!!!!

Seriously, that _might_ work in some cases of technical or bureaucratic translation but in most other cases (as in the comment of el rey) it will usually work to distort or conceal meaning rather than reveal and transfer it.

Damien Moran said...

I agree BR - to add, quite often, is to actually subtract (that is, from the substance of one's line of argument).

Maybe Tusky boy thought he was in church and decided to give a sermon.
But fair dues to him - anyone who can put Jaroslaw Kaczynski to sleep must have been woefully boring.

Jan said Poland is essentially like a cow stuck in the mud, if you want it to move you need to light a fire under its ass.

In fact,cows flatulate methane mainly issues from their mouths, not their arse holes. So maybe a parliamentarian smoker should have put his/her lighter to Donald's mouth during the speech to help wake the place up a bit.

The new prime minister still had a long way to go to match the 8 hour marathon, record holding political speech at the UNSC by the Indian diplomat and nationalist Krishnan Krishna Menon.

Anonymous said...

That's not Gosiewski that's Al Capone

http://prawica.net/files/images/Gosiewski_AlCapone.jpg

beatroot said...

Edgar Capone

Bielanek said...

part of the government's strategy is to speed up privatisation and use the proceeds to cover budget costs and buy political compliance. This is the same as the AWS-UW govt did in the late 1990s and led to the selling of cheaply of Polish property, economic stagnation and a huge rise in unemployment.

beatroot said...

And many of the same people involved in this government as in that one. And yep, it was a disaster. So I hope they enjoy the honeymoon while it lasts.

michael farris said...

Well there's two big problems with privatization in Poland:

It tends to be run by ideologues who are against any privatization whatsoever or by ideologues who think that any privatization is good. That is it tends to be run on ideals vs real world effects. To the hardcore libertarian, privatization is inherently good, no matter the short (or long) term effects because it's the ideologically correct choice.

My own bias is to privatize failing public companies (stopping the bleeding) and not privatizing profitable ones or those that even come close to breaking even.

The second problem is that there's a cultural streak in Poland toward self-deprecation, defeatism and pessimism that tends to drastically undervalue anything Polish. This was the main problem in privatization in the early 90's.

I don't know what to do about that.

opamp said...

The second problem is that there's a cultural streak in Poland toward self-deprecation, defeatism and pessimism that tends to drastically undervalue anything Polish. [...] I don't know what to do about that.

Spot on.

In the marketplace, Polish companies have already found the solution: foreign-sounding branding. Most of stuff you find in Poland has foreign names, yet quite a lot of it is in fact produced locally.

This attitude is much more dangerous in the decision making circles, because a lot of promising projects have been trashed on the basis of a philosophical belief that they were too technologically advanced to be carried out in Poland. This leads to the following modus operandi:

1) Blow state money on scientific research
2) Deny funding to commercialize the technology developed in step 1
3) Wait for a foreign company to copy the technology / independently develop an inferior version of the technology
4) Purchase foreign product
5) Claim that spending money on research is economically unsound.

A said...

My own bias is to privatize failing public companies (stopping the bleeding) and not privatizing profitable ones or those that even come close to breaking even.

I would add to this, acknowledging that some services are in the public good and should not be subject to the vicissitudes of the market mechanism (e.g. schools, prisons, water, electricity, etc).

Bielanek said...

Problem is they've privatised all the profitable ones, usually very cheaply, during the nineties. Crazy

michael farris said...

Good news if bielanek is right, then they've done about all the damage that can be done thru privatization.

Good luck in simplifying the bureacuracy though. One of the defining features of Polish culture (in comparitive culture terms) is uncertainty avoidance, which means that most of the public wants rules and lots of them (whether or not they're workable or anyone follows them is, of course, immaterial...).

beatroot said...

You made that point about 'uncertainty avoidance' before: explain, please...

michael farris said...

"Uncertainty avoidance" comes from sociology and is used to describe an important way that societies differe from each other. (of course within any society individuals will differ, we're talking about overall trends rather than anything deterministic here). Neither high or low UA is good or bad in itself (though whether a culture is high or low UA can determine what sorts of solutions will work and which won't work).

It is a major component in the work of the Dutch soci-anthropologist Geert Hofstede:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geert_Hofstede

In cultures with high levels of UA (like Poland), the individual members experience a higher level of subjective stress in their daily lives (often relieved thru alcohol consumption) and seek to reduce free-floating anxiety through rules. Basically, people want there to be lots of rules and regulations and think that other people should follow them (most people exempt themselves from having to follow them). Schooling is teacher centered and tends to involve highly structured activities. Students expect to be rewarded for accuracy.

In cultures with low uncertainty avoidance (like the UK) there is less everyday stress, and caffeine carriers like tea and coffee are drunk in large amounts to provide mental stimulation. Emotions are expressed less openly (leading to high levels of heart disease) and alcohol is drunk not to relieve stress but to trigger emotions that are otherwise held inside.
The general idea is for there to be as few formal rules and regulations as possible. Ironically, compliance, especially for unwritten rules, is a lot higher than in high UA cultures. Schooling tends to be student-centered, there's less structure and students expect to be rewarded for creativity.

Many of the problems and conflicts in the EU revolve around UA with countries forming blocs between the lower UA countries like the UK or Denmark perceiving the EU as over-regulated and high UA countries like France and Spain that see the EU as an extra layer of security through its rules and regulations (again, the countries that push for more regulations generally feel less need to actually follow them).

beatroot said...

Sounds like good old fashioned anomie to me...