Cause and Effect in European Politics and Law

Market economy? Not unless the state stops behaving like a fairly-tale kingdom

Adelina Marini, September 6, 2010

It is getting harder and harder for a person to survive psychologically in Bulgaria. Since the government of Boyko Borissov is in power the constant doubts on whether what it does is right, moral or at least logical lead to serious mental disorders. In a moment one starts asking himself whether he is not going mad, because each "news" is from weird to unthinkable. Not to mention the constant happening of illogical things, which could make even a machine break down and go off forever.

For example the minister responsible for Bulgarians abroad, is dealing with archaeological excavations, he discovers relics, announces them as authentic and the Treasury starts pouring money in temples and pilgrimages. Then the same minister starts talking about the expedience of the existence of VIP beaches. And just like in a long and absurd theater piece this minister goes down the scene and the next appears - the Minister of Culture. He starts turning the first sod of who-cares-which-part of the construction of the "Trakiya" highway. Then he interferes with the pension system with a no less absurd idea. It it this idea that made my mind go off. The Minister of Culture proposed the introduction of special pensions, something like "medals", for honoured artists.

The reason

The reason is as illogical and absurd as the others. These "honoured" artists cannot retire because the information about their contribution to the social security system had gone. In such a case the state should take care of restoring the archives. But what is worse is that the minister in question explains this historical injustice like this: "It is not good these people to live with 300 levs (150 euro), they deserve good, honourable old age. As the poet has said - some are born, others die - we are talking about 150 people. Konstantinova, Mutafova, Kaloyanchev (renown Bulgarian actors), in these escalated times, deserve the state to give them because they have contributed for the state's glory". Yes, right. But there are other people who live with even less than these 300 levs for many reasons, often related to historical injustices. And because they are not 150 people and had not contributed to the glory of Bulgaria - they are supposed to die in oblivion?

And more: "When young everyone thinks that he or she would not get old. Everyone thinks that aside from the talent and God, there is nothing else. So did I. I have not kept things (documents, proving social securities contribution). But comes a day when we have to take care of ourselves". Right, this seriously "bugged" me. A person becomes adult at the age of 18. And from this age onwards it is considered that an adult is aware of his responsibilities, duties and rights. If he does not respect them, he would have to face the consequences. No one is obliged to pay to someone for what he had thought when being young. You have not paid - you don't get.

The culture

We have seen not a small part of these "honoured" artists on TV, newspapers, magazines, on top with the current minister of culture - with cigars, expensive whiskys, apartments furnished just like the homes of world's famous stars, with eccentric relationships and clothing and whatever, which even for an unbiased eye reveals the abundance of financial resources. Whether these people, aside from making of their homes palaces, have saved for their old times, there is no way that we could know but I don't see a reason why we should care. If they haven't, they should have. After all when I spend my money on stupid things and then I don't have for bread or to pay my bills, whom should I blame?

Not a less important element in this case is the fact that these people have been paid by all those who loved them (listened to their music, read their books, watched their movies) by buying their works, by visiting their concerts or else. Why now should we all pay again (even those of us who don't even like them)? My recognition for my favourite authors is by buying their works and what do they do with the money I don't care.

It is a fact that probably a lot of the troubadours of the authority (no matter which) think that their lucrative situation would last forever. Unfortunately things not always come like this. And in a moment when the Treasury is rattling empty, when the business is crushed with obligations and is wondering where to find money for social contributions from, taxes, new investments, more efficient workers, all of a sudden the state would tell him - look, my dear taxpayer, you might be working very hard but here we have some people who deserve much more than you do and this is why we will chase you to death unless you pay your debts so that we could give these honourable people their deserved money.

The grey economy

The same goes with the situation with those who consciously (being adults) have chosen to work in the grey economy - where the state cannot see you; where you are not responsible to anyone, except yourself. But one day, as it always happens, you would either get sick or your business would die and it might happen that you would need the state to take care of you. Then who is to blame? Do all of us who try to pay our commitments to the state, have to take the burden of those (for me personally) irresponsible people?

Definitely not! Because this is the purpose of the state - to create rules that would be applied equally to everyone. You don't work - you don't eat! You work but don't pay - you don't eat (or at least you don't eat the bread of the others). The fact is that there are people who want to leave the grey economy after they have fallen there because of the crisis. The state, however, instead of stretching its hand to pull them out, it pushes them even deeper because it is not giving them a chance to pay back without them dying.

A metre of a book, please!

I cannot omit another fundamental statement of the Minister of Culture: "When you put the work of a writer on the table, when the books are piled one over the other, then one would have 50 cm (thickness of a book), and another would have 10 cm. You know the difference between 10 cm of written books and 1 metre? It is 90 cm". Honestly, I did not comprehend what he was talking about. After all he could have measured work by kilograms and not centimetres, of which the sculptors would benefit the most (the Minister of Culture is a sculptor).

I would only mention that this statement of a man, with pretenses to be an artist, reveals that his system of values has rotten a lot. And, in fact, the entire discourse on the issue suggests that, although in Bulgaria the coming of market economy has been officially announced long ago, it requires market-oriented thinking. Do we have to explain to people like the ministers of culture and Bulgarians abroad what market-oriented thinking and market economy actually mean?

Because it is obvious that this is not a market state, meaning that it is not striving to create equal and fair conditions for the development of a market that everyone could benefit from, according to his personal contribution. The state is trying to be .... actually I don't know what it is trying to be. I cannot think in the categories of the current government and I truly do not understand what kind of a state is in their heads. The only thing that comes into my mind is that they feel like being in a fairy-tale kingdom where the troubadours are being taken good care of, well fed and the subjects are being whipped in order to work more to secure the well-being of the king and his courtiers.

And it is now that I have realised why I did not like the fairy-tales about kings when I was a little girl - because I felt the cruel injustice in them. It was always necessary some kind of magic or witch-craft to be made in order justice to be established and revenge to be successful. But in the 21st century it is a little weird to rely on miracles, don't you think? Especially when we see that there are countries (kingdoms by the way), where people are being more and more asked about their opinion on their own government. And they are being told everyday "that's it - we ate, we drank, now it's time for us to pay back our debt". And they do.