Thursday, 24 September 2009

Vision impairment

One watched for 20 years how, after the Revolution, the various layers of Romanian administration, Government departments, Parliament, business circles were harmoniously and consistently a vast chorus of utterly self-centred, short-sighted people who only and only tried to fill their pockets while in power.

Why would it then be a surprise to anyone that a German research group has placed Romania at the but-last position in the list of countries that took measures and/or have a vision against the economic crisis.

After all, why would people think about measures against the crisis and have any vision whatsoever about the country's future, if the same people have spent every minute of their political and business life simply squandering the resources of the country? In a country with unique and considerable natural and cultural treasures, they couldn't even make use of these in tourism, which is in deplorable state (unless we count the EU millionaires being brought in by organised Mafia to hunting parties where even protected animals, in the perfect Ceausescu era's fashion, are served in front of the shotguns of paying 'guests'). Politicians like Petre Roman and Attila Verestoy have, after all, also sold illegally vast amounts of timber cut from forests that now causes catastrophic flash floods. Especially Verestoy, who is known fondly as "God's Chainsaw"... for a very good reason.

It really is a matter of absolute and perfect state of self-absorbed egocentricity, where any means are employed to rob the country blind. Irony is that when it comes to EU funds, they can't even steal properly - the absorbing of EU funds is remarkably bad in Romania and everything is tangled up in such bureaucracy, that you have to pay layers of consultants to get anywhere near the funds.

Other funds, in the meantime, are diverted and stolen immediately, just think of the amount of money poured into Romania for infrastructure development (where again the country is in the last position in the EU rankings - and 20 years of motorway building led to few tens of kilometers being 'almost ready' while all the money disappeared) or anti-corruption agencies (which don't really do anything and never will).

A Deloitte study has shown also that 70% of the subjects considered EU funds difficult to access, and the overall pessimism regarding any chance of recovery is understandable when Romania can proudly show a 125% fall in consumer spending - this is the most dramatic fall in the EU.

What is remarkable is that this, to some in the press and on the street, is still surprising. Maybe 20 years of consistent patterns in the economic and political reality of the country were not enough for many to acquire some eyesight?... let alone vision...

Monday, 21 September 2009

Round figures

It is remarkable how nice and round the figures in Euros get when it comes to how even local administration spends funds, including EU funds.

I had a little mention earlier of a children's playground in my home town, it has the surface of about an Olympic size swimming pool - I ran a little experiment and asked people their estimates, even guesstimates, and everybody came up with sums in Euros with at most four zeroes.

In all actuality, it apparently cost one million Euros... nobody dares to ask the Mayor of Tirgu Mures where are the receipts, but it is a fact that it was made without any competition between companies, the contract simply ended up handed to one of his Mafioso buddies. Ironically, he is suing a senator who dared to point this fact out on a local TV channel... after all, these crooks have standards...

Interesting enough, another little but round sum hit the light of day - there were plans for an underpass in my home town, and I remember going to my entrance exams at the University I planned to attend - at that point in time I was watching the huge craters they dug for that underpass. It was in 1990...

Since then, the project was on halt, every local election a few bulldozers moved some grains of sand from here to there, then everything stopped again.

But now, to show the change in wind direction and the might of the clan that rules the town, it finally got finished. It is in deplorable state, but there is a tunnel under the main road and you can, if your life insurance covers it, go from one side to the other... even maybe emerge alive at the other end.

It cost... you guessed it... one million Euros.

Dorin Florea and his Mafia seems incapable of counting in anything other than multiples of one million Euros...

The results are remarkable, as usual - I, for one, am glad that after 19 years, 'officially' the underpass exists and it is 'finished'.

If they had not finished it now, who knows how many more millions of EU and public money would be spent on that tragicomedy.

I am lookin forward to their next project...

Monday, 14 September 2009

Innocence

I remember looking at the policemen (well, they were 'Militia' men) in the Romanian 1970s and '80s with fear.

The overall rule was that you were guilty until proven innocent - and I happened to be one of the kids that got once stopped at random, for no reason whatsoever in the little street called 'Peace Street' (ironically).

I was asked can I prove that I didn't steel the bike... which was of course mine. They were just bored out of their skull (not mind...) and had to pick on somebody. But they had absolute power... so conversation quickly degenerated into mumbling and hoping they get bored again... and they did so I was on my way without having to prove the impossible (no mobile phones in those days so I doubt they would have escorted me home to ask my Dad...).

But then who would have thought, that after all the totalitarian (sorry, anti-terrorist) legislation they introduced in the UK, including the ban on taking pictures of any policeman in any situation (maybe they are afraid to be seen again shooting to death innocent people on the Tube or making them have a heart attack, even if they are genuine bystanders at a demonstration), there would be even more Stalinism coming to the UK.

Thankfully I am exempt at the moment, but anybody being in repeated contact with kids and/or driving them to/from school will have to undergo a Criminal Records Bureau vetting.

So basically everybody in that category of (currently about) 11 million people in the UK are guilty until proven innocent, or at least deemed to stay innocent.

There is a lot of innocence lost here.

Simply because this country's Government and local officials, city councils etc. miserably failed in certain categories of public safety, and as per recent 'Baby P' scandal, toddlers died while all the child protection agencies and social services failed to recognise clear signs of abuse over long period, now we have a solution.

The solution that only a totalitarian state and/or its feeble minded impotent bureaucrats can invent.

We mark everybody a potential deadly risk to kids. Or worse.

We test and vet everybody.

This will then solve all the systemic and systematic failures this country should be thoroughly embarrassed of.

Where does this end? It is not enough that the systematically induced paranoia culture got to a point where more than 80% of parents don't let their kids out of the house any more, not in any radius greater than 100 yards... better to play on the computer and lead to situations where new psychiatric conditions are invented for what results out of game station and computer addictions.

This, somehow, is deemed to be a better society.

The real side-effect will not be suffered by the parents and people who have to go through the CRB vetting under the new rules... the future utterly paranoid generations growing up in a culture where any adult is officially considered a risk until labelled 'OK' by some bureaucrats will pick up the pieces...

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Road wars

There was an interesting statistic in one of the Romanian daily newspapers the other day (well, distance makes one read it online nowadays...).

Taking current figures, more people die on the roads of Romania each day than in Afghanistan. Also, they happen to be the most dangerous, well, lethal roads in Europe.

It is easy to take out to talk about certain isolated factors but there is a combination here of what personally would think as the key ingredients that built up this state of affairs over the years that followed the Revolution - one has to doubt whether such combination of such strength may exist in any other former Communist country.

On one hand, there is the state of unimaginable corruption - which among other things, allows truly countless numbers of people obtain driving licences (the huge figures reported in the press, after an anti-corruption clampdown on certain corrupt cops or administrative personnel are just the tip of the iceberg... or pile of corpses in this case).

But the same 'Mafia country' state of affairs allows also kids and people of any age basically get their hands on truly powerful pieces of machinery on four wheels. It is remarkable to see just what kind of people drive the most powerful cars - with few exceptions, at a single glance, you would not like to meet those people even in broad daylight in small side-streets. The stories of 17-year-olds, sons and daughters of the 'elite' (in Romania this has a very dark and particular meaning) are all the time in the news, causing incredible accidents and sometimes surviving themselves...

Couple this with the absolutely criminal attitudes, where most of the joyriders know for a fact that they (at least their relatives) are above the law...

Then on the other extreme, you have cars in vast numbers that should not be on the road - their safety has been seriously compromised years and years ago, but in a totally corrupt country anybody can get a pass on a roadworthiness test by paying off the right test centre's right people...

And then there is the juxtaposition of two worlds - one world is medieval and has people taking horse-drawn contraptions through even busy city centres very often, others leave animals roaming free and causing truly horrific accidents on motorways.

The other is a modern world that tries to cram way too many cars into way too small historic streets without any parking solutions (Romania is at the bottom of the EU list in terms of how it dealt, well didn't deal at all, with the explosion in the number of cars) that the other, medieval and rural, world clashes in ways not seen during the Communism. I myself, possibly together with the horse ands my taxi driver, almost died last year because a horse-drawn thingy packed with literally crap was going against the one-way street's direction of traffic where there was zero visibility, totally oblivious to any signs or markings.

And then there is the typical Balkan attitude towards things, the laid-back, who-cares type of attitude, which one can add as the extra spice into the lethal mix and anybody thinking driving styles in Italy are, well, scary, should try driving through any busy town centre anywhere in Romania...

So there is a war on those roads, statistically more lethal than some real wars raging at the moment - and it is a war between two world, where one is politically, economically, evolution-wise, law-enforcement-wise, anti-corruption-wise completely out of control. The other is trying to co-exist with its 'normality' and miserably failing.