It is alarming to read of the ignorance of certain concerned citizens of our great city. Naturally, the pastime of complaining has its place, however misguided. Step forward Krakowski Alarm Smogowy (Krakow Smog Alarm), a ‘pressure group’ whose raison d’etre is to bring to the attention of citizens the danger of pollution posed by the thick plumes of smoke that periodically visit our city.
When there’s a crisis, those in positions of authority look for a scapegoat. Unsurprisingly, it’s the poorest who are blamed. Apparently, the main cause of pollution is the old-style furnaces used in kamienica dwellings. It is said that people are so ignorant, they burn plastic waste in their fires, leading to increased pollution. The solution posited is that these poor (read: stupid) people need to be re-educated, then connected to the main heating system of the city. What they don’t tell you is that, properly managed, wood-burning domestic furnaces are in fact the most fuel-efficient heating devices available.
If you’re expecting the city to take action, don’t hold your breath. Practical measures such as park and ride schemes and any form of fining motorists parking illegally on footpaths will definitely not happen. Thank God!
What these people fail to understand is that pollution is vital to the future, not only of our city, but the country at large. Financially, we will enter an acute pensions crisis over the next few decades. The statistics do not bode well. According to the World Bank, Poland’s median age was 25.8 in 1950, is currently 38.2 and will rise to 51 in 2050. At the same time, the total population is declining in absolute terms, as is the birth rate. And for those of you who went private in the hope of having some financial independence in your rockin’ chair years, Tusk et al have taken to scraping the bottom of the pork barrel on a nationwide scale, snatching private pension funds (which we are all obliged to pay into) to balance the books. Remember how they ridiculed a minion of the late potato baron, Andrzej Lepper, who suggested something similar on a much more limited scale several years ago?
The pensions we contribute to now go to pay the pensions of those who are retired, but not yet dead. While politicos have been trying to increase the pension entry age, what they cannot asseverate is the necessity of lowering its exit age. State sanctioned death is not a vote winner. Yet, by trying to extend the lives of our senior citizens, we increase the likelihood that there will be nothing left in the coffers of the mighty ZUS, when our time to clock out arrives.
Going down this path could have consequences for several sectors of the economy, especially textiles and media. In the first place, sales of the wool of Angora goats would surely decline rapidly, being the knock-on effect of the gradual disappearance of Moherowe Berety (Eng: Blue Rinse Brigade). In media terms, would this affect audience share, commercial sponsorship etc. on religious radio? Tell us Brother, would you fear for your commercial cash cow if the faithful were to bypass you and proceed directly to the gates of paradise?
Consider this modest proposal: senior citizens contribute little when they are no longer economically active. In fact, they are a constant drain on resources, especially in terms of pensions and healthcare. No one is stupid enough to suggest euthanasia, and surely there is no conspiracy in that direction. Or is there? In such a patriotic nation, dying for your country would be a noble cause. Not to worry, pollution levels remain comfortably high, so we should be ok. Pity poor Warszawa, with levels well below dangerous.
Hear Mike and guests holding forth on Krakow’s ‘pollution problem’ on his online radio show