Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Snooze-ville

I am so tired. Still. The Fight of the Century between Leszek Balcerowicz and Jacek Rostowski turned out to be a SLUMBERFEST. It's almost as if some evil TV god injected me with a strain of some soporific disease making me sleepy ever after. I should sue.

The Monday night debate started out with a bang. No, not really. It started out with no bangs. Instead, the presenters, the journo-economist Tadeusz Mosz and weekly Polityka editor in chief Jerzy Baczynski, put the background first. As journalists, they should have known better. Putting the background first makes your intended recipient start yawning.

The combatants then began staging their gladiatorial test of skill and blade. No, not so much. Instead, Rostowski repeated again and again it was stupid for the government to borrow money by selling bonds to give the privately managed pension funds money that the funds then invest in Treasury bonds. I got the point in November 2009 when it was first made by Rostowski. That he still felt the need to repeat it ad nauseum (I held it in) on March 21, 2011, goes to show how effective his communication policy has been.

Balcerowicz, being Balcerowicz, attempted to score liberal point after another after another. He did score these, in the first 20 years of his career. When repeated on Monday night, the impact was somehow undermined. This is not to say Balcerowicz's points are good. I mostly agree that somehow blaming the open pension funds for the problem of public finances when nothing has been done for 12 years to deal with obviously mounting problems is a bit rich. But I wanted blood, not repetitions.

Balcerowicz also made the mistake of the night -- which I'll treat as the BLUNDER of the Century. He was huffing and puffing his way to some point when he said something like and "the millions of people watching…." Yes, Leszek, definitely "millions," especially after 60 minutes.

I guess the debate was never going to be a hot one. Imagine a US American presidential debate when voting has already finished and one candidate has already been announced the most likely winner. That's basically the current situation. The government's pension changes will happen on May 1 (or slightly after) since they are already in the midst of being passed, no matter Balcerowicz's bluster or the anger of many in Poland.

The silver lining is as follows: if you find you can't sleep one night, click this link for the full 75-minute debate and thank me for curing your insomnia.

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