Shall We Overcome?

When Borut Pahor took over as PM, pengovsky (a self-important asshole that he is) wrote a public appeal to Pahor, which included the following:

[Y]ou were always big on words. Admittedly, you recognised that at the time you yourself lack specific economic knowledge to tackle the crisis, but will rely on your all-star team instead. However, you should bear in mind that you were not elected to snow us with big words, but because you flat out promised to do a much better job than Janez Janša. Even more – you echoed people’s worries about the economy, while Janša refused to admit that there is a crisis approaching, and this too got you elected. What I am trying to say is, that you will have to deliver regardless of the crisis. You will not be able to feign ignorance four years from now and say “I didn’t know it was going to be that bad”. You knew, we all knew. Except Janša. But that’s why you’ll be the one answering during Q&A sessions of the Parliament.

PM Pahor during Monday’s Q&A session (source)

Monday last, after six months at the helm of his government, Borut Pahor took part in one of those Q&A sessions, where – among others – he talked about how the government is tackling the crisis (transcript, Slovenian only):

We find ourselves in a difficult position, but Slovenia is relatively successful in tackling the crisis. Success will be complete when the crisis is finally overcome and today I say to you that we shall overcome. We shall.


In the last six months at least 25,000 people lost their jobs. Companies are going bankrupt. The credit crisis hasn’t abated. GDP dropped as much as 4 percent in the first quarter and some projections say that it will dive even lower. State and municipal budgets are hardly worth the paper they’re printed on. Quality of life has fallen again, as people are cutting back even on the quality of bread they buy, to save money.

Without trying to sound too cynical – if this is success, one wonders what does failure look like?

At the same time, this government is wasting time by non-transparently appointing CEOs of state-owned companies, obviously as a result of political deals, and then – when shit hits the fan – removing them the very same way, and is bleeding much-needed credibility in the process. This is not just the case of Nova Ljubljanska Banka. The same thing occured when appointing a new CEO of Slovene Railways, ditto for appointing CEO of Hit Casions and will probably happen when naming a new CEO of Petrol – to name but a few examples.

Don’t get me wrong. Obivously no government – let alone this one – can work miracles. Things have been done. Or – at the very least – will be done, apparently rather soon. Today, the government will approve additional guarantees for DARS to continue constructing the highway system. The very same thing which added to overheating Slovene economy four years ago might now prevent it from dropping dead completely. Ministers for Development and Finance, Mitja Gaspari and Franci Križanič promised to introduce a scheme to back up banks lending to businesses by the end of the month.

But trying to placate the people by Churchillesque phrases will not work. The old fart knew exactly what to say and when to say it. For example, when British expeditionary forces (the bulk of British armed forces) were successfully evacuated at Dunkirk, people were thrilled, but instead of lulling them into a false sense of success, Winston told them that rather than a victory, Dunkirk was an epic defeat and that wars are not won by evacuations. So instead of idolising Churchill, Slovene PM would do well to imitate him and present the true state of Slovenian economy, its strong sides as well as its weak points. So that facts will be known and the government’s acts judged against them.

This government will not get us out of the crisis. Not by itself it will not. It must win cooperation, respect and trust both by businesses as well as employees. This is done by laying out bare facts as well as guaranteeing that suffering of those who will get the long end of the stick (businesses and employees alike) will not have been in vain. People must know that it will be worth it. Only than shall we – perhaps – overcome.

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Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.

11 thoughts on “Shall We Overcome?”

  1. remaining with the british WWII rhetorics, one wonders: if this is the current governments’ finest hour …

  2. The banks are tapped out because they lent money to politically connected tycoons and now there is no money to weather the storm. The crisis in USA has lasted at least for a year, there is no reason for it to stop in Slovenia sooner than that. Probably later. BOHICA.

    Heh heh, there was one guy who was warning about the dangerous precipice in front of the Slovenian economy ahead of time – Mico Mrkaic. He warned against the unholy connection between politics and economy and we can see its results. He was mocked by the Jansa government and by the leftist activists. But what does a monkey know about the smell of ginger?

  3. May I remind you that the so called tycoon loans were given to companies in private ownership? That Boško Šrot and Igor Bavčar got hold of their respective companies because the state sold it share in those companies (to get hold of Delo newspaper).

    Slovenian banks are not tapped out. They are sitting on a shitload of cash. They’re just not lending, despite unlimited guarantees by the Central Bank. And that is the problem.

    What we are seeing now is indeed what Mičo Mrkaič preached. It’s just that he didn’t warn against it, he anticipated and welcomed it. He was full of ideas on how you can get rid of 3,000 excess textile workers and have them fill in the 5,000 IT specialists this country supposedly lacks. Cutting taxes was his idea as well, one Janša adopted readily. And it did little good.

    If anything, this crisis proves that government intervention is necessary. Mičo Mrkaič may know his shit, but economics he preached were heavily discredited.

  4. Oh mighty fuck, I can’t believe what you just wrote down. That is such a load of bullshit, dude. MM never advocated the unholy alliance between a state owned bank and the tycoons. In case you don’t remember, him and JPD both resigned from the advisory board to the gov’t. Mainly because of bizzare machinations with NLB.

    MM advocated selling firms to the highest bidder, not leveraging the banks that are guaranteed by the taxpayers. Therefore it would have been best to sell some assets to foreigners who were full of money at the time. Then the bad state of the firms would have been their problem and the SLO coffers full of money. But of course, in Slovenia the damn foreigners are eeeevil and it’s better to get fucked over by your own people like Bosko Srot and Igor Bavcar, right? As for the taxes, Jansa did not adopt that idea. He barely lowered any taxes.

    And if you believe that the Slovenian banks are full of cash, then I have a bottle of Evian for you (read the label in reverse). Read the latest warning by Marko Kranjec.

    To be short, you are absolutely wrong.

  5. Acutally, Damijan quit as minister for development in 91 days, which still is a record, whereas it took MM a bit longer to fall out with JJ.

    Admittedly, I apparently misunderstood your previous comment and didn’t notice that you spoke of a more general connection between politics and economy, not necesarly by means of government ownership. For that, I appologise.

    Having said that, I think you should keep that particular bottle of Evian, because bed-time stories about the higest bidder and (by extention) foreign ownership are a thing of the past. Had firms gone bad, you can be sure that their foreign owners would have the government bailout local banks. Which of course the government would do that same instant.

    They didn’t bailout Bear Sterns and look what happened – in an economy thousands of times more diverse and stronger. So in case NLB ran into trouble the government would *of course* bail it out. If NLB fails (due to Šrot or any other bad loan), we can pretty much wrap it up and move somewhere else.

    Hence, it doesn’t really matter to whom you sell, but what exactly you sell. That is why JPD quit, BTW, because he and Bajuk fell out over whether to sell the rest of NLB to Belgians (and Telekom to Brits, and Triglav to god-knows-who)

    As for getting fucked by Bavčar and Šrot – I guess it hurts either way. They’re just proof that private ownership is not inherently good and state ownership is not inherently bad.

    Re taxes: Well, he lowered them enough to leave a deficit budget in a time when he should be making a shitload of excess income. Had he followed MM and JPD and introduced flat-tax, we would find ourselves in unspeakably deeper shit today.

    This bank of Slovenia report? The way I read it, it say things can go downhill, but that we’re not there yet.

    BTW: Just so you know – every sale of every state-owned company (in whole or in part) must be by law used to pay off public debt.

  6. Guys guys guys please stop, you’re painting a less than attractive mental picture… Mišo Mrkaič featuring as MM at Pengovsky? Please… nooooooo 😈

    Call him MiM? MrM? Whatever, just not MM 😉

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