lnp3 at SPAMpanix.com
Fri Aug 25 09:38:58 MDT 2000
NY Times, Aug. 25, 2000
Some diplomats and analysts are concerned that the minority Solidarity
government, facing likely elections in the spring over the 2001 budget,
will increase the budget deficit too much with populist spending, to try to
fight slowly rising unemployment, estimated at 13.5 percent this year. But
Ms. Binczak and others believe that the fundamentals of economic policy are
set, in part by the markets and the pressure to join the European Union,
and that the politicians will not want to disrupt them too badly.
"The overwhelming sense is that the Poles are going in the right
direction," a Western ambassador said. "This is no longer a grimy little
East European country trying to keep its head above water, but a country
taking its place in Europe."
Agriculture remains the biggest structural challenge to a modernizing
Poland -- and to its entry into the European Union. Some 25 percent of
Poland's workers live in the poorer countryside, many of them on small
farms. But of the country's 2.1 million farms, only half sell significant
amounts to the market. The other half belong to subsistence farmers, whom
no one wants to suddenly move into the cities. The European Union will
help, but wants to contain the size of the subsidies.
Farmers, protected by socialism, are the ones most concerned by the new
Poland, which they see as a land of high taxes, falling farm prices and
rising prices for fertilizer, fuel, seeds and machinery.
In Skorzec, a tiny village about four miles south of Ciechanowiec, two
farmers, Czeslaw Bojar, 59, and his neighbor, Kazimierz Murowski, 64,
stopped work to chat and complain.
"When I bought my first tractor, under Communism, it cost 27 pigs," Mr.
Murowski said. "Today, it costs 100 pigs." He stopped to scratch. "It's not
that we liked Communism, but life was better for us then."
Mr. Bojar has six sons and worries that his farm, roughly 25 acres, will
not be big enough for all of them, and that some will find themselves in
the cities, unemployed. As for the European Union, he said: "I can't know
the future, and people disagree. But when we join the E.U., it will be like
a bulldozer and break down all the walls, and then who knows?"
Mr. Murowski said everything was comparative. "I remember how it was after
the war, with everything destroyed and nothing to eat," he said. "Well,
it's better to be poor in peace than rich in war."
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