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June 28, 2022



Miroslav Kováč: Let's abolish all welfare for everyone!

Prague, 16.7.2013 21:54, (ROMEA)
Miroslav Kováč giving a speech as part of a commemorative ceremony at Lety by Písek. Photo: František Kostlán
Miroslav Kováč giving a speech as part of a commemorative ceremony at Lety by Písek. Photo: František Kostlán

Recently I have observed online, on the street, at anti-Romani demonstrations, and even from the lips of politicians that many in the Czech Republic believe Romani people here enjoy an above-average standard of living because of thos country's generous social welfare system. I am Roma and I happen to live in the real world, traveling to various so-called excluded localities (I even used to live in one myself). As a citizen who knows the law and is familiar with this issue, I have decided to share my knowledge with those in the majority population who are ignorant of the facts, especially with those who, perhaps because of laziness (at best) have succumbed to all the quasi-fascist hoaxes, myths and populism on this issue, those who term themselves the "decent people" but scoff at the laws, as well as those politicians who make it directly possible for the corrupt to increase their personal bank accounts abroad by adopting various "measures" through which our asset-stripped "state coffers" are supposed to be "filled".      

A typical example of Czech welfare is the benefit known as a "social increase". This was cut in 2011 by CZK 4.8 billion, but only because the low-income employed now no longer qualify for it. The unemployed were not affected by this change in policy at all. Restrictions to the disbursal of "social increase" also did not affect families with a disabled member.  

Social welfare assists people who have found themselves in difficult or onerous living situations. It is supposed to help parents ensure care for their children, for example (through additional benefits, maternity benefit, or financial aid during motherhood), to help people in financial trouble (through aid to those in material distress, etc.), to help the low-income employed by sparing them income tax, to help people overcome illness (through sick pay), to help them when they give birth or when a family member dies, to compensate for the difference between pregnancy and motherhood when women are reassigned to different jobs with lower salaries as a result of either, to compensate foster parents for their care of children, etc. Of course, the welfare system also includes disability pensions, old-age pensions, orphans' pensions and widows'/widowers' pensions, which in the Czech Republic are continuously financed. 

Expenditures on aid to those in material distress (subsistence contributions, housing benefits, extraordinary immediate financial aid) totaled roughly CZK 5 billion in 2011. This represented a year-on-year increase of CZK 1.1 billion because of the extraordinary immediate aid that municipalities disbursed, for example, to families whose apartments or houses had been destroyed by natural disasters (the floods).

From the available resources (the Czech Labor and Social Affairs Ministry , or MPSV) we can determine what the overall expenditures in the social area were for 2009-2011. It is clear that what bothers the "decent citizens" of this country is the approximately CZK 3.5 billion (representing 0.25 % of the state budget) that the MPSV disburses in aid to those in material distress. This is the money that Romani people allegedly use to enjoy an above-average standard of living.

However, in practice what that "above-average" standard looks like is this:  The minimum income on which a five-member family is expected to be able to subsist in 2013 is approximately CZK 12 300 per month. In addition, a housing supplement might be calculated which would include only the cost of energy consumed and services connected with housing (so-called "justified expenses"), but not the cost of rent or a fund for maintenance and repairs, etc. In the final analysis, this family can only apply for the equivalent of the minimum subsistence income, and sometimes is only awarded half of that per month. That means the family is living on CZK 6 000 per month. From such an amount it is difficult to provide, for example, for transportation to school, not  to mentioning meeting all the other needs of all five family members. However, if one member of that family were working and had an income of approximately CZK 22 000 monthly, that same family would still be entitled to the state housing contribution. That welfare is taken advantage of by a large part of the majority population, to say nothing of returns on overpaid income tax and other tax relief. 

The total social expenditures from the MPSV budget in 2011 were CZK 451.9 billion, not quite CZK 12 billion more than the previous year. The growth in expenditure was primarily due to increased outlays for retirement income insurance (year-on-year, a rise of CZK 21.3 billion). Total expenditures on pensions last year were CZK 359.1 billion, or not quite 80 % of all of the financing for social expenditures disbursed by the MPSV.

In the case of state social support benefits, unemployment benefits, contributions for caretaker/guardianship, or health insurance benefits, the expenditures have fallen year-on-year. A total of CZK 21.5 billion was spent on health insurance benefits (sick pay, financial aid during motherhood, coverage of treatment and compensatory contributions during pregnancy and motherhood), while authorities reported 1.33 million cases of temporary incapacity to work that were closed. In comparison with 2010, that was a drop in expenditure of CZK 1.3 billion.

For unemployment benefits (and remember, this is not the same thing as "aid to those in material distress") a total of CZK 10.3 billion was disbursed, or CZK 3.1 billion less than on 2011. This reduction was, according to the MPSV, influenced primarily by the lower average number of people seeking unemployment benefits (a decline from 1,635,000 people in 2010 to 1,324,000 in 2011) and a reduction in the average monthly amount of unemployment benefits, which fell year-on-year from CZK 5 698 per month during 2011 to CZK 5 586 per month in 2012.

Now let's look at how Romani people do in the Czech Republic. After reviewing a study by the European Commission, World Bank and UN Development Program in 2011, as well as MPSV statistics on unemployment in 2013, I have come to the conclusion that there are approximately 70 000 unemployed Romani people in the Czech Republic between the ages of 15 and 64, which represents approximately 13 % of the overall number of unemployed. That is a rather high number, but when we take various circumstances into consideration, from antigypsyim (and the related unwillingness to employ Romani people) to the Romani experience of education in the Czech Republic, this conclusion makes more sense. We must realize there are as many as 50 job-seekers here for every job available! 

When I listen to the crowds shouting for the abolition of the alleged "double standard" here, I come to the same conclusion. Yes! Let's not use a double standard! If we live in a market economy, let's behave as the market dictates!

So:  People should bear full financial responsibility for their children. If a child is born disabled, the parents should bear the cost of treatment without state handouts. Disabled adults should rely on their own families only. When people get sick, they should pay for their own treatment and not rely on a system of social solidarity. Whoever wants an education should pay for a teacher - and I refuse to allow my money to pay for the education of youth with fascist tendencies. Everyone should create his or her own job. Everyone should set aside his or her own old age fund or rely only on their own families when the time comes. Everyone should provide his or her own housing - and if you want help during natural disasters, then subscribe to an insurance plan. Everyone should only be paid for what he or she actually produces. Each person can live as he or she wants, as long as he or she pays!   

This would be precisely according to the model of the ideologically-modified slogan "If you don't work, you don't eat!" The precise wording is "He who does not work, neither shall he eat" (II Thessalonians 3:10). To which I add:  "Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother" (II Thessalonians 3:15).

I therefore propose abolishing the following:  The living wage, the minimum wage, aid to those in material distress, child-related additional benefits, parental contributions, housing supplements, extraordinary immediate aid, housing benefits, caretaker benefits, unemployment benefits, foster parent benefits, death benefits, birth benefits, compensatory benefits for pregnancy and motherhood, pensions, tax deductions and relief, all compensatory assistance.

Everyone should pay the same amount of tax (or render unto Caesar what is his) because someone has to make sure the state keeps running and drawing money for the following programs:  the OpenCards, the Gripen jets, the Pandura tanks, Iveco, Czech Airlines, parachutes, photovoltaic cells, liquidation of ecological waste, the activities of the Environment Ministry, the Blanka tunnel, Euro-subsidies, bio-gas, and many, many others, including the privatization of firms such as the Most Coalworks, various funds, the S-Cards, information systems, bonds, supervisory boards, parliamentarians' compensation, and jobs for politicians' friends - and we can't forget the good livings made by our 1 100 000 bureaucrats.

That's why I have the following challenge for my fellow citizens:  Stop stealing!  The state is losing up to CZK 200 billion a year in lost Value-Added Tax because of you. That money could pay for the next 50 years of "aid in material distress".   

Miroslav Kováč, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Sociální dávky, Commentary, Czech republic, Education, Facism, MPSV, Populism, Roma


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