It really is a pity that the politicians currently governing Poland do not concern themselves with the negative demographic trends. It is even more sad that they do not care about the future of Polish pension system and public finance system. When our society drastically gets old around 2040, Jarosław Kaczyński (Law and Justice; PiS) will be again united with his brother and far from worrying about anything. So why should he care?
Demographic and financial situation of Poland seem not to be the main point of concern for the ruling party. Its chief interest are so far the legal issues. Law and Justice attempts to gain total control over people – therefore Constitutional Tribunal no longer has an independent role and thus the authority of Polish Constitution has been compromised. This is precisely why a party apparatchik (or in other words the Minister of Justice) was given a high-handed power over the prosecutor’s office; that is why a machinery for surveillance of citizen’s private lives has been activated; that is why civil servatns have been transformed into “junkies” completely addicted to the mercy of one true Party; that is why, step by step, public media undergo a metamorphosis into the national media, with news serving as propaganda bits, and which will soon most probably be extensively censored to follow the party ideology.
These are the issues the Party cares about. But the abovementioned strategies are just “the stick”. None of them would work if no carrots were offered. The vital one is PLN 500 per each child. I personally am to be a beneficiary of this solution. I have three children what in my case means a gift from PM Beata Szydło in the amount of PLN 1000 per month. I should be happy, right? Unfortunately, I am among those who look above the plate with the donated soup. And I see only problems.
One of the problems is an increasing financial gap due to the abovementioned costs. I see new taxes which I am to pay as a costumer of Biedronka or Lidl (Polish supermarkets) and as an owner of a bank account. I see VAT which does not plunge, although it should. I am afraid of other tax hikes next year.
I see a standstill process aimed at enabling every Polish child to receive a fairly cheap place in a kindergarten and soon, also in a nursery. Together with the parental leave, such support was to become a strong incentive for young Poles to decide on more offspring – as the state “sponsors” the first year of parental leave (with the payment of 80% of earnings) and then, after 13 months, it finances a place in the nursery, enabling parents to return to work. Numerous surveys show that the above (together with housing standards) is the strongest impulse for people planning to have a baby, especially the second or the third one. In return, the school age has been once again raised – because 6 years olds would deprive 3 years olds of places in the kindergartens. As an effect, parents are left left in the lurch as far as the period between the 1st birthday of their baby (the end of the annual parental leave) to the 1st September of the year when the baby turns 4 years. PLN 500 per each child is an additional impulse not to return to work but to vegetate instead (PLN 500 is rather not enough to pay for the nursery or private kindergarten, not to ment a nanny). No need for any personal development, no need to save for retirement. As if there are not enough problems ahead of us in this field.
If having a baby will every time mean 4 year-long break from work (okay, these periods may somehow overlap with one another but having three babies at reasonable intervals equals about 8-10 years of break) and the support of the state in the amount of PLN 1000 or 1500, which indeed is enough to pay for a nanny (but only for one child), or for the kindergarten (but again, only for one and a half of children), even people really bad at math may consider it a beneficial deal for parents.
But that is the way it goes, people’s blindness to dismantling of citizens’ rights and protection of their freedoms has to be adequately reimbursed. And it can be simply paid with money, not with places in the kindergartens.
The article was originally published in Polish at liberte.pl
Translated by Patrycja Piechota