A new consultation: This time on social issues

I assume you all remember that about two weeks before the new constitution was voted on 8 million questionnaires were sent out to every adult over the age of eighteen asking them twelve meaningless questions. Apparently 900,000 people returned the questionnaires, the rest didn't bother. The answers ostensibly supported the government's notions about the constitution, but some people doubt that anyone even bothered to take a look at them. Since the body that was responsible for sorting the material was not independent, the government could say anything it wanted about the results. Anti-government forces found this newest method of "governing" primitive and unethical. But it seems that the government must think that pretending that its decisions are based on the public will is a useful political tool because it is back in the "questionnaire business." This time people will be asked ten questions about social issues.

The format is the same as that of the first questionnaire, where the questions began: "There are some who think that…. Others say that … What do you think." The only major structural difference between the two questionnaires is the size of the audience. It seems to me that the government has already decided to lower the voting age to sixteen because in order to be eligible to answer these questions one must be sixteen or older. A move that might help Fidesz at the next elections. Or Jobbik?

The government's aim is to cut back on social services or, as it is often described, "revamp the system of social transfers." It is fairly difficult to pose questions that would prompt people to heartily agree, for example, to cut unemployment benefits. But this is exactly what the government wants to achieve with this latest questionnaire. 

The first question concerns something called "protected age regime," which means that a worker older than 55 can be dismissed only as a result of disciplinary action. The question asks whether Hungary should introduce legislation concerning this issue. The problem is that the protected age regime already exists in the current labor code.

The second question asks whether the state should limit the utility companies' private interests and prohibit them from collecting extra profit and thus making utility bills impossibly high. Or perhaps the state should constrain utility charges only for small consumers and the needy. Or, the state shouldn't intervene in the utility companies' pricing. What do you think the answer will be?

The third question is really a doozy. Should the country help the unemployed by providing work instead of paying them an unemployment benefit, or is the unemployment benefit the solution to the joblessness problem? Tell me who on earth will answer that the unemployment benefit is the solution to joblessness.

The fourth question returns to this government's favorite theme: children. The question is whether people with children should receive higher pensions than the childless. The second possibility would be that only those who also have logged the appropriate number of work years as an entitlement to pensions should receive higher pensions for raising children. Third, raising children shouldn't be recognized in the amount of the pension. My comment here is that Hungarians will be happy if the state will be able to pay adequate pensions as it is. Most experts claim that in the not too distant future there might be a collapse of the current system unless it is reformed.

The fifth question concerns social assistance. Should it be given only in kind, mostly foodstuffs, or should part of the assistance be given in money and part in basic goods. The third possibility is that assistance will be given only in money, which is the current situation. That is a hot question in Hungary because many people are convinced that those living on assistance spend the money on cigarettes and liquor and therefore the assistance should be only in kind. Liberals in Hungary are dead against this because they consider it discriminatory.

Questions six and seven are concerned with loans in foreign currencies. The first question is whether the state should provide help to anyone who cannot pay his debts. The second question inquires whether foreign-currency loans, which at the moment are forbidden, should again be made available since lately everybody has become aware of the risks. However, the vetting should be much stricter than earlier. The other choice is: foreign currency lending should remain banned. I might add here that the government already announced that it wants to permit mortgage lending in euros again, partially lifting the ban on all forex lending imposed last year.

Question eight is also interesting. It goes like this: "Drug company lobbies 'must be broken'–they shouldn't be allowed to force higher-priced drugs on patients for the purpose of generating extra profits." Or if one doesn't like this answer one can choose this one: "There is no need for the state to step up action against the drug companies to protect patients' interests." What do you think the answer will be? One thing is sure: Hungarian doctors are exceedingly reluctant to prescribe generic drugs.

Question nine is so complicated that I don't think too many people will be able to answer it. (1) The number of years spent working should serve as the primary basis for the calculation of old-age pensions. (2) Old-age pensions should be defined in proportion to the future pensioner's income. (3) The number of years spent working and the size of a person's income should be taken into account equally when setting the size of the pension.

Question ten involves the financing of education. (1) The state should use public funds to support primarily that kind of education which leads to landing a job. (2) The education system doesn't need to be adjusted to economic realities. This is a tricky question. Most likely the preferred answer is (1), but this may mean that students who choose "useless" majors like art, literature, history, or philosophy will have to pay a hefty tuition whereas students who want to become engineers or lawyers will get a free education. I find this an extraordinary proposition and highly discriminatory.

Yesterday I was listening to four political commentators talking about this new questionnaire and they all agreed that it would be wise for the Orbán government to put an end to these endless, phony "consultations." More and more people are also complaining about the expense involved. Each such "consultation" costs 800 million forints–this while the government is begging for contributions from citizens to help pay down the national debt. 

 

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Paul
Guest

Many years ago I was involved in designing questionnaires and analysing the results as part of my job. Before starting this work, I was sent on a questionnaire course, which mostly concentrated on the design of the questions – these had to be: a) unbiased/unloaded and b) phrased so as to return meaningful data (both a lot more difficult than they sounds).
At the beginning of the course we were given poor examples real-life questionnaires to analyses and criticise, some of them incredibly badly designed. But I wish we’d had this one to work on, none of them were as bad, or as bizarre, as this.

Kirsten
Guest

I actually would find it quite interesting to get the true answers to such questions. Of course some are biased and some are entirely in line with the Fidesz world of government intervention, protection of some and punishment of others. But could be interesting to know whether people have thought about that already and what their ideas/expectations are. But I guess that Fidesz have the answers already. For me the main message is that there will be fresh austerity measures quite soon, and this after five years of nearly constant austerity and budget consolidation efforts. In some sense this could be called brave. But whether this will be more acceptable to people because of this consultation, remains to be seen.

An
Guest

@Kirsten: Yes, it would be interesting to know what people think on these questions… but not through badly designed surveys full of loaded questions. This won’t show anything.
There are social research institutions that could actually do a decent job of such a survey.
This is just for show, so that the government can claim they “consulted” with the people.

Member

I am afraid that by asking the questions, they are already loading the whole social issues with things they want to talk about.
Also things like “protected age regime,” which means that a worker older than 55 can be dismissed only as a result of disciplinary action.” means nothing. The only thing that will happen tat instead of dismissing someone at 55 or after, they will dismiss them at 54 and a half.
About question ten. I am not sure how they will decide what is worth it, and what is not. THe problem is not with the amount of doctors, but that doctors do not want to work in small villages, so without a comprehensive portfolio that does not stop with a diploma would be needed, but at this point Fidesz is not known about in-depth analysis of the bigger picture.
By the way were the results of the Constitution Survey have been published somewhere?

kozgazalumni
Guest

“The second question asks whether the state should limit the utility companies’ private interests and prohibit them from collecting extra profit and thus making utility bills impossibly high.”
“Extra profit”? What is it?
Need to close Corvinus (University of Economics). No need for people who haven’t learnt about it.

kis fiu
Guest

Eva, it would be great if you could do a post about Corvinus… one day the government says it should close the next day maybe not. What is going on?

Johnny Boy
Guest

When did the government say it should close?
Please show the source…

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Kirsten: “For me the main message is that there will be fresh austerity measures quite soon, and this after five years of nearly constant austerity and budget consolidation efforts. In some sense this could be called brave.”
Well, they tried to avoid it but couldn’t. The austerity measures are far too harsh most likely because they spent a ton of money in the last year and mostly for wrong things.
I’m convinced that if Bajnai remained the prime minister today Hungary wouldn’t be in such a state and there wouldn’t be demonstration after demonstration and most likely soon strikes. And the budget would be in better shape.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

kozgazalumni: “Extra profit”? What is it? Need to close Corvinus (University of Economics). No need for people who haven’t learnt about it.”
This “extra profit” talk is all over in the media and it irks me to no end and I’m not even an alumna of Corvinus.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Kis fiu: Eva, it would be great if you could do a post about Corvinus… one day the government says it should close the next day maybe not. What is going on?”
I wish I knew. According to rumors it was Orbán’s personal wish to eliminate Corvinus. He is convinced that the university is the hotbed of liberalism. Perhaps some of the professors think that Matolcsy is an idiot which wouldn’t too far from the truth. In any case, dictators’ wishes are rarely ignored. His enablers immediately act.

Member

Why can’t these morons put these on the Internet? There are free sites to publish questionnaires. Then run a few newspaper and TV ads for a fraction of the cost. Hire a few students in the local library to click through for folks with no net at home.
We should make a parody of this, like
“Do you agree, that we should shower in hot water or would you rather freeze in cold?”

pusztaranger
Guest
“The third question is really a doozy. Should the country help the unemployed by providing work instead of paying them an unemployment benefit, or is the unemployment benefit the solution to the joblessness problem? Tell me who on earth will answer that the unemployment benefit is the solution to joblessness.” Orbán said recently he wants to turn the welfare state into a workfare state. There are plans to “create jobs” by making people, wo have to work “for the community” (közmunka) in order to receive social benefits – for many the only possible way to have an income as there are no jobs for them – available as cheap labor for private enterprises. People on “community” jobs are already put to work in private forests, and the program will be expanded to construction sites and agriculture, see links below. These are no proper jobs for a proper wage, it’s still “közmunka” – for the community. As many Roma people are concerned here, it will be easy to sell this measure to the “Hungarian people” by pushing the discourse of the “parasite of the Hungarian Nation” – “finally they are forced to work for their living rather than living on our… Read more »
Johnny Boy
Guest

I must ask repeatedly, when and where did the government say that Corvinus should be closed?

Kirsten
Guest

Pusztaranger, I had this impression too that the society that Fidesz aims at is close to what authoritarian regimes of the 1930s have attempted. I copied this from the Wiki text on the Portuguese “Estado Novo”: “Salazar was a Catholic traditionalist who believed in the necessity of control over the forces of economic modernisation in order to defend the religious and rural values of the country, which he perceived as being threatened.” “The Estado Novo enforced nationalist and Roman Catholic values on the Portuguese population. The whole education system was focused toward the exaltation of the Portuguese nation and its five-century old overseas territories (the Ultramar). The motto of the regime was “Deus, Pátria e Familia” (meaning “God, Fatherland, and Family).” and also: “The Estado Novo accepted the idea of corporatism as an economic model.” I cannot assess how much this national creed and Fidesz programme have already taken root but from what I read I got the impression that it would be very advisable to have an opinion on the questions that Fidesz asks.

Member

@Johnnny “when and where did the government say that Corvinus should be closed”
Here you go. According to the leaked info the FIDESZ government wants to withdraw support from Corvinus. They were testing the waters or just wanted to warn the “liberal hotbed”. Anyway there will be talks about the “future of the university”. We are not stupid, Johnny …
http://hvg.hu/karrier/20110506_corvinus_bezaras_hoffmann

Questionnaire Questions
Guest

Why not put these idiots on the Internet? There are free sites to publish the questionnaires. Then run a newspaper and television ads a few at a fraction of the cost. Rental of some students at the local library and click for those without home network.

Johnny Boy
Guest

I asked: “when and where did the government say…”
Mutt Damon: “According to the leaked info…”
There you go. I have no more questions.

Member

@Johnny “I have no more questions.”
Always glad to help!

Johnny Boy
Guest

Mutt Damon: you maybe didn’t understand.
I have no more questions because those who treat any “information” leaked by the hostile press as “the government said” are hopeless.

Member

@Johnny You are dumb.

Johnny Boy
Guest

Because I’m right and you are not.

Member

Kirsten, interesting comments about Portugal. Vichy France got rid of the national motto of “liberté, égalité, fraternité” (liberty, equality, fraternity), changing it to “Travail, Famille, Patrie” (Work, Family, Fatherland). I always wonder if this was the inspiration for the Fidesz election slogan “munka, otthon, csalad”?

no prescription needed online pharmacy
Guest
We have a DAW law here in NY but I was given a generic and not the brand name drug my doctor prescribed , due to a false statement the pharmacist made to me in 2009.Last week I found his statement was false and have filed a complaint with his employer- a food chain- because I was told this unfactual statement again from another pharmacist at the same pharmacy. It involved my insurer. I am mad as hell as I feel as a senior citizen I was duped by this pharmacy and have suffered extreme side affects which I attribute to the generic med. I just heard on the scanner that a local 72 year old woman fell from a standing position and has hip and arm pain. It is highly possible she suffered from a side affect of a medication that caused her fall and the resulting injuries she has insure more money is going to the health care system. If I start to feel better on the brand name med I should have been on all along- I am taking action. I don’t know what that action will be. I have testified in writing to the House VAC… Read more »
wpDiscuz