Deep hole (was: desired abduction/Small Business Offer)

Wojtek Sokolowski sokol at
Wed Jul 15 13:25:59 PDT 1998

At 02:14 PM 7/15/98 -0500, Barkely Rosser wrote:
> I take it that you are referring to recent
>developments in Poland? The answer is that it is for real,
>but comes with a lot of unpleasant baggage, unsurprisingly,
>which has manifested itself in the inability of any

-- snip

A few minor comments.

>Republics and about the same as in Hungary. Especial
>losers are the old and the rural, despite pensions being
>kept pretty high, although other social safety net
>spending has been reduced. The boom is largely urban and
>among the young.

To my understanding, the job market was pretty much segmented by the industry, and that has not changed much since before 1989. Thus, the traditionally underpaid segments, such as teachers or health care workers, should also be counted among the loosers (mainly due to stangnant wages). Another looser is the arts, as much of the state subsidies dried out.

> 2) There is a mid-teens unemployment rate, beginning
>to drift down slightly, but still pretty high for such a
>"booming" economy.

There substantial disparity between males and females. I do not have figues at my fingertips, but if memory serves, females were twice as likely as males to lose thier jobs after 1989. Add to it rampant sexism in the workplace fueled by two major sources: catholic patriatchalism, and aping bad western models. "Women's rights" have been pretty much rejected as the relict of the 'bygone era."

> 4) There is a significant similarity to the Chinese
>reforms, not frequently remarked upon (although it is in
>the book by Rosser and Rosser, 1996, :-)), that there was
>not a major privatization of the major state-owned
>enterprises (SOEs). Smaller ones were however.

Privatisation is a very murky business, indeed. Oftentimes, it involves only "paper" changes or regroupping, e.g. parts of old SOEs going "private" and becoming "owned" by their parent companies which, in turn, are ownerd by the state (David Stark has an article on that aspect of privatisation, I can find references if necessary).

>Central planning did not need to be dismantled as it
>already had largely been during the 1980s.

And even before. First movement toward a "market system" was in fact in 1956, althought there was much political muddling through. I'd go as far as saying that the recent developmen is simply an outcome of the infrastructure build before 1989, rathwer than post-1989 'reforms.' That is, the ecenomy returned to its previous paths after a nose dive caused by the 'shock therapy.'

RE A difficult to
>quantify element is an alleged high degree of
>"entrepreneurship" among the Poles, who were heavily
>involved in a lot of the arbitrage trade across borders in
>the former CMEA after its collapse.

According to some local estimations, the 'grey economy" was as high as 12% of the GNP in the 1980s, although it involved much more than just cross-border trade.

> 5) Agriculture is pretty much of a mess. The attempt
>to collectivize was withdrawn after the Poznan uprising in
>1956 and the fear of the resistance of the very
>anti-Russian, anti-Communist, and pro-Catholic peasantry.
>But the private plots in Poland are inefficiently small and

True, but there were rather successful attempts to develop farmers' coops since then. The food shortages in 19870s and 1980s resulted more from excessive agricultural export to pay foreign debt, than inefficiency of the agriculture.

Add to it the politically motivated decision to dissolve state owned farms after 1989 that contributed to the rural unemployment and poverty.


Wojtek Sokolowski

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