So then, my fellow nation-builders - what do we need?
- A Plain Polish campaign. Polish government authorities - and private companies (in particular the utilities) should communicate with citizens and customers clearly. No more gobbledegook! No more sentences of 100 or more words! No more irrelevant references to the chapter and verse of the law! It really is high time that Polish bureaucrats appreciated that it is their responsibility to write clearly - not the citizen's responsibility to attempt to understand their convoluted texts.
- Safer roads. As I write, another BMW (why is it always BMWs?) driven by a drunken driver, ploughed into a group of people at a level crossing, killing six. Dangerous driving results in mass slaughter, several thousand Poles are killed needlessly by idiot drivers, and it occurs to few to SLOW DOWN. 50kmh means 50kmh, not 85. As I pointed out this time last year, more than six times as many Poles have been killed in road-accidents in modern Poland than were killed by Stalin at Katyń. Road safety must become a top priority for government. The cost of keeping several thousand people alive each year is minimal.
- Polish universities need a shake-up. There are still way too many old-era professors blocking the advance of younger academics, who are multilingual, who have experience living and working abroad, who have a vision of how things can be. Poland's poor standing in research and development, in collaboration between business and academia, in creating science parks that can turn the fruits of academic study into profitable products or services, is mainly down to the heavy blanket of blinkered profs in their 60s and 70s. Time for them to shuffle off.
- More civil society. By which I mean charities, volunteering, more public-spirited behaviour. No, putting a few zlotys into a collecting-tin for Wielka Orkiestra Świątecznej Pomocy once a year and allowing the government to give 1% of the tax it's taking from you to the charity of your choice is not enough. If Poland is to catch up in terms of the individual's attitude towards society, we need to move towards an understanding that we're all in it together, for one another's benefit. This message needs to be appreciated by every individual, not forced into them as communist-style collectivism was.
- Let's be nicer to one another. Let's stop treating shop staff, security guys and office cleaners with cold disdain, bury that supercilious arrogance that comes with being financially better-off. We're all here together, so we should try to get along, with a smile, a dzień dobry, a dziękuję, a do widzenia as we go through our day.
- A focus on economic sustainability. As Poland becomes more wealthy, there is the opportunity to stop obsessing about short-term gain and start looking ahead with a more long-term perspective. The economy is likely to accelerate this year - may the owners of the businesses that are making this happen also think long-term about their companies' competitiveness, investing in R&D, in new technologies, in their employees, in growth, in sustainability, in making their companies more resilient to external shocks. Government needs to cut borrowing, spend less on current costs (a smaller bureaucracy please, and invest more in capital projects to enhance the nation's infrastructure.
This time last year:
LOT's second Dreamliner over Jeziorki
(before the batteries started catching fire)
This time two years ag0:
New Year's coal train
This time six years ago: