After reading my last article about 10 things I love about Poland you may have an impression that we live in a perfect country… but that would be far from the truth. In this article I would like to present you some of the shortcomings of Poland.
Having lived in Poland since 2006 I grew very fond of this country and choosing only 10 things I love about it for the previous article was not an easy task. But, as it is with anything, there is also a different side to it. To be fair I will also share with you the things I simply don’t like about our country.
- Wasting the beautiful Polish nature
Unfortunately, I often see plenty of cigarettes, plastic bottles or even large garbage thrown away in the most beautiful forests, mountains, rivers and lakes, or in the street. Polish people should care more about their natural habitat and ecology.
Dustbins should be available everywhere, especially in parks and forests. We should provide better education about ecology in schools and public media. Children should be obliged to regularly pick up garbage in the streets and forests. With such actions, kids would become more careful and educate their parents to take care of ecology.
Another thing related to ecology, that bothers me, is smog.
- Polish bureaucracy and civil servants’ attitude
At Sii we frequently experience examples of absurd Polish bureaucracy with accounting and tax rules, VAT, CIT, PFRON, ZUS, etc.
Moreover, in public offices civil servants are sometimes not pleasant and they have little knowledge about proper customer service. It seems like they don’t care about citizens although they are nothing less, than their customers.
Civil servants, like US (Urzad Skarbowy) or ZUS employees, are often arrogant towards companies like Sii, thinking that they manage us, or treat us, behaving like we are their enemies. They are unpleasant both face to face as well as on the phone. It should be quite the opposite – we should be treated as customers, being provided with the best quality of service, support, help and professionalism. The civil servants should be happy and thankful that we pay high taxes and social contribution in Poland. (Civil servants seem not aware that they receive their salaries thanks to taxes paid by Poles and by companies present in Poland, like Sii).
Moreover ZUS and US employees have poor understanding of business. Polish government should get inspired by countries like Singapore, where public institutions and public services are more efficient. Of course, they must control if we respect and execute the regulations, but at the same time they should also serve with a positive, helpful and respectful attitude.
Heavy bureaucracy is also visible when we do business with the public sector (small business for us, less than 2% of our revenue). Instead of agility and flexibility, we face huge bureaucracy but I may write later an entire article dedicated to this subject.
There are positive aspects to 500+. This program helped some Polish families to have a better life. I am also a strong defender of the idea that society must support women with young children. It is a huge challenge to be both a mother and have a successful professional career.
But I am personally against 500+. Giving money for nothing is never a good idea and a very expensive system. Even public services should not be free for citizens. We should always pay something to use them, even a symbolic amount.
But Polish people love 500+ because getting money for nothing is great! This populist law contributed to PiS winning the last election. This rule is bad for several reasons:
- It motivates people to be lazy and to become or remain unemployed (hundreds of thousands of women stopped working because of 500+). 500 PLN should be given in exchange of something, for example for the education of children from poor families on condition that they go to school and get good grades. If a kid does not go to school, does not do any effort, their parents shouldn’t receive 500+.
Too many social benefits may kill a country’s competitiveness, e.g. France, Greece or Italy. Poland should be very careful not to become a socialist country, like France. The many social benefits are extremely expensive for the society, especially the middle class, in terms of taxes (I will write a dedicated article on why the situation is so bad in France and why Poland shouldn’t follow these footsteps). The problem is that it is easy to give something to the citizens. But it is almost impossible to take away those social benefits (the political party, which will stop 500+, will lose the election following such decision).
- 500+ costs us 25 billion PLN a year. It’s a huge amount of money and there are better ways in which the government could spend it helping families with children:
- on education: increasing the salaries of teachers for example, building more schools or nurseries, hiring more and better teachers, lowering the number of kids per class, implementing more efficient education system in general with less bureaucracy.
- invest in our health system for kids, especially hospitals or special schools for mentally or physically impaired children.
- Support certain activities for kids, like sports or cultural associations for example or invest in sport equipment’s in schools.
- Polish drivers and their lack of respect
In Poland, and especially in Warsaw, drivers are quite often aggressive and show lack of respect towards other drivers. They are rarely so kind to let you overtake them or let you in when you’re trying to join the traffic.
- Winter and switching the time twice a year
Don’t get me wrong – there are times with sun and snow during Polish winter when it’s really beautiful outside. But on majority of days between November and March the weather is rainy and the skies are grey. It gets dark very early and it is simply depressing. In my opinion we should stop switching time from winter to summer twice a year and keep the latter during the whole year.
- Polish architecture (partially)
It is often grey, sad and lacks charm. In particular residential buildings built during communism are generally ugly (except the Palace of Culture: I like the architecture of this building). But also buildings made with cheap materials during last 30 years, often called ‘grey blocks’ for a reason.
I understand that money can be a challenge. Majority of inhabitants in Poland can’t afford exclusive properties built with elegant materials. But beautiful and elegant buildings can be made with affordable materials as well. In my opinion there is not enough focus on architecture – how it looks and how it makes people feel.
However sometimes it is quite the opposite. Some Poles, especially those who became wealthy recently, build houses in bad taste to show off – flashy, with a lot of marble, silver and gold (Trump style), not elegant and beautiful. But of course they have the right to do it and it is always good to have some diversity (it would be boring if all houses, blocks or people would look the same. I love diversity!).
- The level of Polish football clubs in Ekstraklasa
Poland is a rich European country. We should have at least 2 or 3 strong football clubs, which could rival with European leaders from England, Spain, Germany, France, Italy, Portugal, The Netherlands or Russia. Currently it is quite the opposite – there’s not a single club to be proud of.
As a Warsaw resident, I naturally support Warsaw football clubs, like Legia Warszawa. I often attend Legia matches in Warsaw with my son. We have seen some really great games, but often I am disappointed with the really low level of sports performance. In my opinion they change their trainer and team players too often to build a strong team able to compete with top European clubs.
Also I don’t like the behavior of some Polish football fans: some of them are intolerant and dangerous. I am a football fan myself and I love this game. It is normal to strongly support a team and to cry when it loses. But at the same time we should respect our opponents, being happy to drink beers with them after the match instead of having fights. We share the same passion with them. This friendly attitude and mutual respect between supporters of different clubs is missing in Poland.
- Toll gates on motorways
- For example, on A2 motorway, between Łódź and Poznań, there are 3 toll gates quite close to each other. What’s the point of it? 1 gate would be sufficient in my opinion, especially since every gate is a major slow down.
- Also, I am wondering why A2 has only 2 lanes for cars and therefore is often blocked. Such large motorways should have at least 3 or 4 lanes.
- What is the point of handing our credit card to a motorway employee in toll gates? The payment should be electronic and automatic resulting in better capacity. I don’t understand why Polish authorities still aren’t able to fix this problem after so many years.
- An unhealthy atmosphere of hatred
- An unhealthy atmosphere of hatred is visibly present in Poland. There is for example a lot of viciousness between PiS and PO, PSL or SDL defenders. Those feelings are encouraged by public media, like TVP, and by fake news published by thousands nationalists and populists on social media every day. It results in bad atmosphere present in the entire country.
- For example I don’t understand why PiS hates Donald Tusk? I am not a Tusk fan either. But despite different opinions, PiS should be proud that a Pole is the president of the EU. The fact that we differ greatly in many ways does not mean that we should hate each other. Despite those different opinions, we should respect each other, even like each other, avoiding this unhealthy feeling of hatred. A PiS fan can be friends with a PO fan. A Catholic can love an Atheist, a Protestant, a Muslim, a Hindu or a Jew.
- Many Poles are too proud, oversensitive, and as a result they don’t accept any critics, They don’t want to hear anything negative about their country or their behavior. It is great that Poles are proud of their great and wonderful country, culture and of Poland’s long history, but they must accept some critics and also be able to laugh at themselves.
- A minority of Polish people have too extreme views, such as nationalists, racists, anti LGBT, anti-Muslims, anti-Jews, anti-EU, etc. They are not open-minded and not tolerant towards other values, cultures, sexual orientations, nationalities and religions.
- In Poland those dangerous extremist and fundamentalist opinions are often caused and promoted by the Church (Christian Catholic in particular, but other religions propagate those racist and fundamentalist ideas as well in many other countries: Muslims, Shiites, Salafist, Hinduism, Jewish. Nevertheless such views are not always caused by religion, but also by some political parties, like communists, anti-capitalists and extreme far-left agitators.
- Those Extremists and fundamentalists ideas do not concern Poland. They are more and more present everywhere (Hungary, Russia, Italy recently, USA with Donald Trump). Such ideas are always dangerous to the human kind. They cause terrorism and were the reason why the II World War started. It is great to defend our opinions and values, being engaged and passionate, but at the same time we must listen to other points of view, tolerate people, who think differently and always be respectful to everybody.
- Some Poles are also quite cold and unwelcoming to strangers. They rarely say ‘hello’, even when met in the street or a corridor. They use curtains everywhere so that nobody can see them, even during the day. French people are warmer, especially when met for the first time.
- What I hate the most – Polish public media, especially TVP
Private media have the right to defend their ideas. For exampIe I don’t share the opinions of Radio Maryja, but they can spread them however they please. The same rules apply to Gazeta Wyborcza, TVN or any other private media (newspapers, radio, TV stations, websites and blogs, like this one).
But government should never use public media, like TVP, as a tool of political propaganda. Public media is financed with our taxes and therefore should be politically neutral. Moreover the management should be chosen autonomously (like in France, where independent CSA authorities – not the French government – appoint French Television’s CEO). Currently TVP is a tool in the hands of PiS, feeding the nation with political propaganda. Similar power is owned by Putin in Russia, Erdogan in Turkey or any other dictator party.
I always feel bad after watching news on TVP presenting all those fake news, trying to bias Polish citizens against EU for example. Poland shouldn’t accept the fact that the public television is serving naive people propaganda and manipulating them, all of it being paid for with our taxes. Especially since it puts in danger our liberty and freedom, which guarantee independent press and media, who can and should criticize the government.
I also feel bad when I visit PKN Orlen, the state-owned oil company’s petrol stations. Why only the pro-PiS newspapers are displayed? It’s simply disgusting. PKN Orlen is an oil company and should not be used as a means of propaganda by the ruling party.
Another important point is that we should never avoid critics. Constructive criticism and feedback are necessary to improve and grow. Media liberty and impartiality is strategic to proper development of all countries worldwide, i.e. having TV stations, newspapers, radios and websites, which defend different opposite opinions, media which regularly criticize public authorities. Without it, most countries would become dictatorships, like in Russia, China, Turkey or many African countries… Democracy is not possible in those countries, because opposite parties can’t defend their opinions and criticize the ruling party, which has the ability to manipulate the citizens according to their needs. Polish people should never accept that. They should always defend press liberty and separation of public authorities from justice. Otherwise Poland will become a dictatorship.
@Mr Kaczyński, Morawiecki, Duda, Ziobro and other PiS politicians:
I understand your ambitions to win elections and keep the power over Poland. Congratulations on having won them in 2016. I respect you and I admire your engagement, but I really hope you will lose the next ones.
But no matter what the voters decide, please respect the fact that we may have different opinions and values, than yours. Always fight for liberty and freedom in Poland. Accept critics. Never come back to the dark times of communism. Never make people scared to criticize ruling party in Poland again.
Be happy and proud that some media criticize your government and ideas, even encourage such critics. Accept and respect them. Free media prove that Poland is a healthy, democratic and free country, with fundamental rights, such as liberty.
Also always keep the legislature, executive and judiciary powers separate. Never let Poland become a dictature, like Russia, where all media supports Putin and there is no counter power. It is absolutely necessary to the well-being of Poland and Polish people.
Last but not least, please keep in mind that we have different opinions, but in fact we share exactly the same objective: we want Poland and Polish people to win, being the best country in the world and despite our differences, we all love our great country and want to make it even better!
I didn’t find this topic pleasant, but a necessary one. It was really important to me to share my thoughts on this topic with you. Do you agree with me? Or do you think differently? Either way, let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment below. Also do not hesitate to suggest any other topics you would like me to write about in the future.