Strictly speaking, this write-up isn’t political, but this being Slovenia and all, politics is never far away. As you might or might not know, government of Alenka Bratušek increased VAT 2 percentage points, from 20 to 22 percent amid cries of adding to the economic slump. Now, truth be told, Bratušek and her finance minister Čufer are somewhat caught between a rock and a hard place. The budget is screwed up and in dire need of rebalancing which is happening as you read this. Instead of an across-the-board slashing of the public sector, Bratušek opted for the slippery-slope approach of gradually reducing wages in the public sector and increasing taxes as well as introducing new ones. The VAT increase is the initial step, to be followed by a proper real-estate tax (cue property owners including the Roman Catholic Church going ape-shit) and a still-lingering option of special crisis-tax. To name but a few.
…to be her taxman.
But beyond the normal ripples of you’ll-pry-this-money-from-my-cold-dead-hands, none of this cause any special uproar. OK, maybe the property tax is yet to do this, because two things are sacred to a Slovenian. His house and his car. Both of which are usually slightly above his means. What is making rounds for the past two days, however, is a programme by the Tax Administration to have citizens send in photos of invoices they receive via MMS messages. That’s right. In the age of Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus (ok, maybe not the last one), the TaxAdmin opted for a 20 year old tech to turn people into snitches. I guess they went for quantity rather than quality.
Now, some people (@had included went slightly ga-ga over this, especially since the TaxAdmin is not a particularly small government agency. And is about to get bigger still, with the Customs officers being transferred from the border with Croatia to various posts within the TaxAdmin. However, the outrage is totally misplaced.
After all, even today, the Slovenian political class likes to wear the snitch-jacket when it breaks bread with a ranking US diplomat, to give an example at random. I mean, we’ve been doing this for decades. When Fascist took over in 1941, snitching was aplenty. When Communists took over in 1945, snitching on your neighbour was a favourite past-time activity to settle old scores. And when Capitalists took over in 1990, the same thing was happening all over again. And so on and so forth.
What we have here, ladies and gentlemen, is simply a relatively well-aimed but poorly executed attempt to tap into this nation’s snitching reflex.