Weekend odds and ends in Hungary

One of our readers commented on the leisurely pace of Hungarian life when it comes to long weekends and holidays in general. For us living in the United States these extended holidays seem endless. Years ago while visiting Hungary I found it mighty odd that days before Christmas the banks had already closed their doors. Listening to the radio on Friday afternoon (Hungarian time) it seems obvious that by noon everybody is scurrying homeward. When a holiday, like May Day, falls on a Thursday people disappear on Wednesday and till Monday one cannot hear from them. (This is evident on the Hungarian-language list on politics, history, and economics that I’ve been running for years. The traffic from Hungary comes to a halt, and only the diligent Americans, Canadians, and Australians are corresponding. Most of the affluent list members take short jaunts outside of Hungary during these long weekends.)

The other day I read somewhere that the Germans work the least amount: 196 days a year. Even in France people work 203 days while in the United States 238. Surely, for the German or French employee this is good news and for the American it is not, but already years ago I saw, I think in The New York Times, a German high official (who refused to give his name) saying that the trouble with the Germans is that they want to receive higher and higher salaries while want to work less and less. In Germany thanks to the existence of very strong trade unions for a while at least this state of affairs will not change. At the same time, some people claim that the very high unemployment rate in Germany is partly due to the companies’ reluctance to hire because firing someone is almost impossible. As an old internet friend from Germany said half jokingly: "Perhaps if the employee raped the boss’s wife one could do something but even then I’m not quite sure."

During these peaceful "lazy days of summer" not much happens in politics either, and Hungarians are eternally grateful for the lack of news since they are certainly fed up with politics. Napkelte, the morning political program on MTV, is unusual in the sense that it doesn’t close up shop for the weekend. They schedule "a light program." On Saturdays István Verebes (actor, theater director) talks with people about health, books, and a little politics but since he doesn’t really know much about anything else but the theater he normally manages to smuggle in some theater stories. Or at least examples drawn from his theatrical career. On Sundays, a former sports writer entertains the audience, and he is also a theater buff. He seems to know every actor in Hungary (and there are many hundreds of them) and seem to have seen every production–quite a feat given the number of theaters in the country.

Politics start to creep back to television on Sunday night in anticipation of possible political events of Monday. So, since there are several new ministers who will take the oath on Monday, András Bánó madly tried to round up a few of these people for a chat. But it is difficult. The future ministers are also off somewhere. However, he managed to find at least two (out of the six) but they couldn’t say a lot about their future jobs since they haven’t even crossed the threshold of the ministries as yet. One of them doesn’t even have a threshold to cross because it is an entirely new ministry. I guess they have to find a suitable building first. The big political question is, of course, the split of the coalition partners and the guesswork concerning the future of a minority government. The third guest of Bánó was Tamás Bauer, one of the founders of SZDSZ, who a few years ago quit the party and returned to civilian life. He teaches economics at a university. Last week Bauer wrote an article about the breakup of the coalition. He concluded that minority governing is a hopeless undertaking and that the coalition should be newly negotiated after the June party election when it is clear who the next SZDSZ party chief is going to be.  Other SZDSZ leaders, András Böhm for one, is certain that Gábor Fodor will be the winner. (So am I, by the way.) However, Fodor’s mysterious references to personnel changes on both sides don’t bode well for the reestablishment of the coalition. Somehow I don’t think that MSZP will be terribly happy to be blackmailed to make personnel changes. Especially if Fodor means, for example, the prime minister. In addition, unlike Bauer, I don’t think that a new coalition is the answer for the left-liberal forces in Hungary.

I don’t think that I mentioned that during Ferenc Gyurcsány’s speech on May 1 there was a man in the crowd who pulled out what looked like a gun (it turned out to be a toy gun) and aimed it at the prime minister. The secret police arrested him and led him away. I was certain that this fellow must have belonged to the extreme right. Great was my surprise this morning when I found out that he is an English teacher and a communist sympathizer. In his backpack the police found the first volume of Das Kapital and an open bottle of Scotch. First he told the police that he pulled the gun in order to protest the plight of the poor and the homeless. Later he changed his story and claimed that he was drunk. My second surprise was that the police let him loose. He returned home and is awaiting his fate. The papers claim that he may be fined or perhaps even receive some jail time. I’m trying to imagine what would happen to this man if he tried this trick against the president of the United States.

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Spirit
Guest

You are making people feel guilty for having at least some sanity in life, people have fought hard to have these privilages, and Multi National US companies want to exploit workers!! look what they do in India China Mexico Brazil, sweatshops, Dont go saying that Capitalistic pigs are moralistic, they will use people for slaves if they have there way, and they do, they hold governments and nations like prisoners!!!!!if you are going to put an article like this together dont be so biased!! People like you create Chaos and manipulate situations to justify more control over people!! Sham Shame Shame..

Vándorló
Guest

Yes, stop ‘creating chaos’ and manipulating us all, just so you and the US hegemony can justify your control over us.
Hungarian workers also have to cope with the stress of knowing that our ageing and shrinking population will not be able to maintain the current level of social services, especially as such a small proportion is not either employed by the state or lives off the state.
That kind of stress demands people take even more time off. Or perhaps just hanging around universities for years studying or lecturing (dictating as it should be called here) rather than getting a real job.
Shame shame shame!!

Adrian
Guest

Vándorló,
Do you know if the dependency ratio figures you are so alarmed about have been adjusted to take in the black/grey economy?
Pensioners: for instance, I know of pensioners retiring and coming back into full-time work in both the private and public sector, collecting both their pension and whatever recompense for their labour.
The unemployed: I know of people officially unemployed who are working.
Sickness: no personal experience, but….
Teachers/doctors: neither the official hours nor the official pay reflect what a a full time job would entail in the west. I believe everybody has another occupation – in the private sector – except me, but then I’m lazy.
Hungarian economic statistics can do strange things when the impact of the grey/black economy is revealed:
http://hungaryeconomywatch.blogspot.com/2008/04/hungary-wages-and-salaries-february.html

Spirit
Guest

Another thing , your society produces = more polution, more green house gasess, less time to be with family, stress, dog eat dog society. We require a change in paradigm, shift in higher concsiouness, a new cultural revolution to priorities our true values. We can’t continue living in a throw away society and blinded by false hopes from Multi National companies. The corruption from our Elite, want to dominate and give us false hopes and lies. If we keep this up our future is grey..
We need realistic lifestyle polocies, priority to recycle, a change in marketing for good not greed..

Vándorló
Guest
@Adrian In a game of economic cards over the long term demographics will always trump the effects of distortions due to the black/grey economy. You simply can’t ignore the fact that even the permitted holidays, maternity leave and various other social security measures are more than this economy can bear over the long term. And then there are the extra liberties and benefits people take for themselves like doctors using the public services for private patients, no-one paying tax etc… And yes lots of people have two jobs etc… but all of that is basically irrelevant if people don’t work the hours they are meant to, in offices which lack any performance measures and proper management, with basically no-one paying more than 60% of their taxes. The things you point out simply underline the desperate state of the Hungarian economy and the pathetic excuses the government and people make for maintaining the status quo or milking the system for their own selfish benefit. @Spirit: get an education and stop sponging off the state – which you obviously are. Do you really understand what a paradigm shift is, the common misapplications of the concept etc… I doubt it. You are clearly… Read more »
Spirit
Guest

We as Human Beings, we have lost our way.

Spirit
Guest

@vandarlo
I have an education, a spiritual one, which is what is missing from peoples lives, they are too institutionalised. 2000 years ago at the begining of the Age of Piseces Jesus came to teach us and be our guide, like all the ages we have teaches or spiritual guides, we are in the Golden Age and approaching the Age of Aquarius, our spiritual awareness will lift to a higher frequency. Many paople are sensing this change in vibration. I learn’t that politics can lead people off the path of spiritual enlightenment, and once you experience the Holy Spirits energy you will create and influence people around, and if you remain ignorant you will only add to the turmoil and not help expand peoples leap in concsiouness. Many people, religions, beliefs are sensing the changes coming, so please relax and enjoy the ride of enlightenment..Power Of Love!!

Vándorló
Guest

@Spirit: for one ‘schooled’ in spiritualism you seem blindingly unaware of the comflicts within the belief systems you profess to understand.
“You shall not eat anything with the blood; neither shall you use magic, omens, or witchcraft” Leviticus 19:26
http://bible.cc/leviticus/19-26.htm

Spirit
Guest

Dogma, thats why we have spritual guides. I have Free will and use my intuition to help understand my way. I do understand where you are coming from, however this is the fear factor which Jesus came to teach is , if we understand magic, omens or withcraft, then the truth will set you free. What you mention is interpretted and preached by Orthodox religion, and you can box yourself into a corner if you misinterpret the fear, much of what is in the bible was questioned by Jesus and many spiritual leaders over the years, Judeo Christianity in it’s institutionalised form is dangerous to humanity.. I do understand and many people fear to face their inner self, they look for guidence outside themselves, and chase a dream that is false like Magic , Omens and witches as you say,from the misleading spiritual guides, Dualism of Lucifer… The Kingdom of God is within you.. very thought provoking, and satisfying challange discovering how your mind ego self and psychie function..

Vándorló
Guest

@Spirit: You talk of ‘free will’ in the same paragraph you are blindly relinquishing authority to spiritual forces. Free will requires you understand the idea of yourself as a rational agent who is not subject to deterministic action preordained by fate, the stars or any other nonsense. Your liberally abuse of the word ‘understand’ when you basically only understand what you want to hear. You and your spiritual guides are clearly very selfish and opinionated people who use subjective mumbo-jumbo to justify your arrogance and ignorance. The ‘dogma’ you refer to is called rational objectivity – something that helps us all get along and provides you to live in a society that tolerates idiots like you.

Spirit
Guest

@ vandorlo
you have a primative understanding of Spritualism, sadly you dont even see the symbols which are clearly within Orthodox religion, Zodiac and Sun worship is within many religions.
Your understanding of Free will is to learn the forces behind various belief systems, not fear them , these forces once you are familiar with them cannot harm you once you have the holy spirit within. They are only created to control you and manifested within your mind the Ego, once you illiminate the Ego that will do anything to survive, then you will trully be free.. Spirit of God generates True unconditional love, that is more powerful then the beings from the lower dimensions..

Adrian
Guest

I just had to summarise my teaching hours for weeks 10-18. In a nine week period we had 9 non-teaching days.
An extra week’s holiday would have been more productive than these continous interuptions to the working week.

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