A series of severe storms struck parts of Slovenia on Sunday, causing extensive damage to housing, crops and forests. It was the latest in a series of severe weather events which have – among other things – collapsed a scaffold in downtown Ljubljana the other day. In short: it’s fun, but don’t bring an umbrella. You might end up like Dorothy.
photo: BOBO (source)
However, the real fun begins just now, when damage is being assessed all over the country. I’ve had some meagre experience covering this for various media houses and I can tell you that farmers immediately start exaggerating the numbers. The last time I was covering a natural catastrophe of similiar proportions, the numbers went from a fifty million tolars to a hundred billion in a matter of hours, which at that point meant some 12% of the country’s budget.
Today, we are observing a similar phenomenon: while the damage reports are still being compiled, numbers are increasing exponentially. In a single TV piece combined claims of up to 50 milion euros were made. I realize there was indeed some extensive damage and that people’s lives were shattered, but what I’m bothered by is the fact that everyone is paying attention to the damage in the woods and fields while almost nothing is being said about families whose houses have lost roofs and even suffered structural damage.
But they are probably insured, which cannot be said about farmers and their produce. As farmers are a special breed in Slovenia and enjoy protection not unlike their French counterparts, they expect the state to bail them out yet again. And so they beef up their damage reports, already feeling the fibre of the fabric of a fistful of euros.
And so we will see the usual Peasant Gambit: In the spring it’s usually frost. Damages are repaid. In the summer, storms and hail. Damages are repaid again. In autumn, floods. Guess what happens. And then, as the year’s end approaches, farmers are clammoring about what a quality product they have this year and that the market is being infested by low-cost produce from Albania, Macedonia, Spain and Greece and that they cannot compete with such low prices. And so the state bails them out again, buying their product off them for an above-market price. Just to keep them happy.
Hell, I’m in the wrong business…