Petr Fiala went out into the world and was not surprised. Similar to Václav Klaus two years ago, who got upset in a supermarket about why there are so many yogurts in the world. Fial was surprised that the prices of products in different countries differ, that they are cheaper in Germany, while in the Czech Republic, concerns and traders push smaller goods to customers. Leaving aside that the responsible right-wing politician chose sweet lemonade and colored fat with sugar for comparison in a country that is among the most obese in Europe. Healthy food is probably too leftist.
We pay more for inferior goods and services, and on the other hand, we are crushed by lower wages for the same work.
It’s almost as if Klaus and Fiala thought there was a world of centrally controlled economies outside their office window, and were shocked to encounter the reality of capitalism, where the richest try to rip off the poorest and shop prices make no sense. No wonder. Klaus didn’t understand economics so much as he believed in the ghosts of the “invisible hand of the market” and other magical figures of neoliberalism.
Fiala then knows nothing at all about the economy, which is reflected in the functioning of his entire government. To this day, he has not been able to connect that the abolition of the super-gross wage, which he celebrated as his great victory three years ago, is behind the financial disaster that his government is futilely dealing with for the second year, instead of dealing with something substantial and important. After all, he has a finance minister on hand, who is not much better off.
However, Fiala could continue in his journey to learn about the lives of ordinary people who pay the bills and try to somehow survive. One might be surprised, for example, at telephone bills, when the Czech oligopoly of operators charges customers multiples of what people in neighboring Poland pay. The range of services offered by Czech operators is thus more reminiscent of the activities of moneylenders who divided their customers and let them beg for discounts.
We pay more for inferior goods and services, and on the other hand, we are crushed by lower wages for the same work. But the country’s economy depends on the fact that we can press plastic or bend a piece of sheet metal cheaper than the Germans. We are the best at this and we will be for a long time, because Fial’s government has reduced the volume of funds for education, science and research, when these expenses have been decreasing in relation to GDP since the beginning of this government.
A stagnant minimum wage doesn’t help people either. They were not helped much by inflation, whose rampages the government and the Central Bank helplessly watch, while Aleš Michl turned a key institution into an insignificant office where no one knows what it is governed by and what goals it pursues. The only argument against the introduction of the euro is that Aleš Michl would be out of a job. But that’s probably not an argument against.
In Germany and anywhere else in Europe, Fiala could also wonder how it happened that in the Czech Republic, employees have become the most impoverished of the OECD countries, which is also evidenced by the continuous drop in sales in the Czech Republic. And since misfortune never happens alone in the Czech Republic, on the other hand housing and energy prices have become record high, so it is slowly becoming cheaper to live and live almost anywhere else. Fortunately, Fial’s government is preparing the construction of several nuclear blocks, which will ensure us the most expensive energy in Europe for decades to come. A Brnu pipe with hot water.
Of course, not everyone got poor. Mobile operators, fossil billionaires and then the largest food producer in the country, Andrej Babiš, who ripped off his voters, became rich as a record, and as a bonus, in two years, he will smear the entire coalition on bread, like Nutella at a discount. In another country, Babiš and other oligarchs would be taxed, in the Czech Republic the government bows to them.
Petr Fiala could spread a sweet spread on his bread, pour a sweet caffeinated lemonade with it and wonder what exactly makes this country different from the others. After all, here the same sun shines, the same wind blows and people have a similar number of limbs as anywhere else. Basically, the only thing that makes us unique is that nowhere else is the government of Petr Fiala.
The author is the editor of Alarm.