Polish Toledo

This blog is associated with www.polishtoledo.com

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Keep Truckin'

If a commercial truck driver is cruising through Germany - the German government has decided that the minimum wage of EUR 8.50 an hour will be applied regardless of the driver's country of residence. Foreign employers could be fined more than EUR 30,000 if they fail to pay this wage.

In comparison the Polish minimum wage for 2015 is PLN 1,750 gross a month (EUR 400) or about EUR 2.50. Polish sources claim that enforcing German wages would weaken Poland’s trucking industry, which has recently expanded to become a major player in trans-European trade.

Too many courses

A British MP, Jim Dobbin, was having a fine time on his recent visit to Poland as he knew one or two people there who were involved with the pro-life movement as he was. He was having the perfect day in Słupsk as part of a U.K. delegation on a political visit arranged by Council of Europe. 

The stalwart liberal politician was at a banquet and invited to drink a shot of spirit with every course.

The practice - said to be a Polish tradition - caused the 73-year-old to be five times over the legal drink-drive limit. After the lavish meal, Mr Dobbin - a former microbiologist who had served an an MP since 1997 -  complained of feeling ill.

He went to bed after being told by colleagues to 'sleep it off'. But, when his wife was unable to wake her unconscious husband, he was taken to the hospital were he died an hour later. 

The Council of Europe trip had been to mark the town of Słupsk being awarded the council's 2014 Europe Prize for 'promoting the European ideal'.  

Putin ain't coming

Russian President Vladimir Putin won't attend the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz on 27 January. He was at the 60th anniversary event in 2005, but the Russian take over of Crimea, current situation in Ukraine and cold relations with Poland could be valid reasons for no invitation.

Polish Foreign Minister Grzegorz Schetyna
Russia was then infuriated by comments Polish Foreign Minister Grzegorz Schetyna made yesterday crediting Ukrainian soldiers with liberating Auschwitz instead of the Red Army.

At the United Nations, Russia's envoy Vitaly Churkin addressed the Polish envoy, telling him that the First Ukrainian Front, like other Red Army forces, contained representatives of the Soviet Union's more than 100 ethnic groups and asking him to convey the information to Schetyna.

Churkin and other Russian officials who have responded to the situation in harsh tones made no mention of the Katyn massacre

Poland, a member of NATO, has staked a hard position against Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its backing of separatists fighting in eastern Ukrainian regions. Also, military provocations have become an almost daily event with Russian fighter jets and bombers buzzing the borders of Baltic and Scandinavian countries.

Putin has been getting a frosty reception at international events everywhere there are western nations involved.

Last fall, for example, at the G20 summit in Australia, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper let it be known that Russia needs to get out of Ukraine. And, at the G8 conference it's now 8 minus 1.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Home Army - it's back

Poland’s history of guerrilla warfare in World War II is a precursor to cope with the challenges of an increasingly unpredictable Russia. The new Home Army's goal is to form light infantry units scattered around the country able to continue the fight if there is an invasion and the Polish military is destroyed.

Read more at the Economist

Poland needs to make more babies

Poland was the undisputed economic champion of the last decade. Not only did it double its GDP while every other nation in Europe faltered, it was the only western country to avoid a recession after the economic crisis of 2009. 

However, there is a huge problem on the horizon: its population has begun to nosedive.

Since joining the EU in 2004, many Poles have migrated to other European countries putting a huge dent in population growth. Meanwhile, immigrants from neighboring countries including Ukraine provides only a small trickle of new residents, which doesn't offset the drain. At the same time the average number of children Polish couples are producing is almost half the amount of the U.K. and U.S. 

Poland’s population in the post-communist era has hung around the 38 to 38.5 million range. But by 2050 it could fall to 33 million and more than a third will be retirement age.

The relatively low cost of doing business in Poland had attracted many multi-national corporations to expand and in fact move massive amounts of their operations there. Unfortunately, it is becoming harder for companies to fill employment position due to the shrinking population and skilled workforce.

While there have been many reforms in Poland since 1989, the one thing stifling settlement of foreigners has been the amount of red tape to become a legal resident. 

The government is starting to realize the problems concerning negative population growth and they have liberalized the regulations for short-term employment visas allowing migrants to work in agriculture, and other sectors that rely on low-wage, casual workers. But, that scheme is not a permanent solution.

The conflict in Ukraine has increased the volume immigrants, but most of them are not paying taxes or contributing to pension plans, and like the illegals here in the USA are sending the bulk of what they earn back home rather than helping local economies.

Accepting foreign immigrants can present problems as witnessed in Germany, France and England. The best fix is for Poles to procreate at a more rapid pace. In a country that is almost entirely Catholic, you would expect it to be a relatively easy task. 

The low birth rate is akin to Poles cutting off their nose to spite their face. Looking in the mirror 30 years from now - they'll realize how ugly a situation it has become.

Swiss Cheesy

The Swiss last week un-pegged their currency from the Euro creating a mortgage payment meltdown across Poland. 

Over a half million Polish families have mortgages denominated in Swiss francs. Most of the Mortgages were originated before the financial crisis in 2008 when the value of the Swiss currency stood at half of current levels. 

Finance Minister Mateusz Szczurek will meet with bankers next week to assess the impact of the franc crisis on the market after the Swiss Central Bank decided to abandon the euro cap on Thursday. 

The opposition party has called on the government to offer a relief plan whereby Poles would be able to pay off their mortgage at levels that were in effect on January 14, 2015.

Paweł Szałamacha, PiS (Law and Justice) MP has called for a relief plan saying, "When an earthquake hits, the government has to act. We propose to allow Poles to pay off their loans at an exchange rate from before the earthquake.”

Thursday, January 01, 2015

To Euro or Not to Euro

Sometimes people have an overwhelming grasp of the obvious. For instance Polish Finance Minister Mateusz Szczurek has said that Poland is still not ready to join the euro.

Don't judge a book by its cover -
He's probably smarter than he looks

One the other hand Lithuania adopted the common currency on the first day of 2015, but their own money was pegged to the value of the Euro for the last several years.

Szczurek told Polish Radio on that while the euro is good news for Lithuania’s economy, this is not necessarily so for Poland.

The Euro is rapidly devaluing and the ECB (Central Bank) will likely be printing a Trillion Euros or more this year. There is a deflationary pressure on the European economy and industrial output and employment are in a heap of trouble.

Although taking the slow approach, Poland’s finance minister is continuing plans on adopting the Euro, saying that “the discussion on joining the Euro in Poland should continue”.

If Szczurek is waiting for stability in the Eurozone... Hell might freeze over and the 19 nations using the common currency or at least some of them might go back to their own coinage.

Reinventing Collapse

Despite the news on the economy - twisting the facts and lying with statistics The United States is in steep decline. Plagued by runaway debt now over $18 Trillion, a shrinking economy with the lowest labor participation rate in memory, and environmental catastrophes to rival Chernobyl, the US has been retracing the trajectory of the Soviet Union in the early 1980's toward national bankruptcy and political dissolution. 

By comparing a collapse that has run its course to one that is now unfolding, Dmity Orlov's books holds a unique lens up to America's present and future.

As Orlov's predictions continue to come true, his writing continues to gain mainstream acceptance. This revised and updated edition of Reinventing Collapse examines the circumstances of the demise of the Soviet superpower and offers clear insights into how we might prepare for the events that are unfolding here.

Both Reinventing Collapse and The Five Stages of Collapse are invaluable resources to get ready for the inevitable.