Why I intend to vote "no" in the referendum on EU entry - I.Article published at "Neviditelny pes"
My efforts to ventilate my opinions in this way from time to time (despite my lack of training or education in this particular area) were inspired by three people..
The first of these is Ondřej Neff, whose publication Neviditelný pes makes an almost daily appearance on my computer screen and brings me much more reading pleasure than the press-agency-sourced news that show up in our printed newspapers.
The second is my father, who has been longing since the mid 1990s to have his own newspaper column titled "Another Thing that Made Me Mad Yesterday" (in fact he used a somewhat more colorful expression which probably is not suitable for publication). I am too lazy and too resigned to things to spend each day complaining about all the unfairness in the world, not the least because I have to earn a living somehow, so I will only be writing on an occasional basis.
The third is (presumably Senator) Vízek, who publicized his views in Neviditelný pes on several occasions, immediately putting to rest any fears I may have had that no one would read or, God forbid, publish the misguided ravings of an individual espousing opinions far outside the mainstream.
Merely reading the politically incorrect heading of this article will probably be enough to cause supporters of EU entry to rise from their chairs. I apologize to such people for my politically incorrect opinions, but I cannot help feeling this way.
Those who are in favor of EU entry and those who are against all have their (occasionally publicized) arguments. However, so far I have been unable to completely identify with any of the arguments being presented.
Perhaps the most frequently mentioned argument for the benefits of EU membership points to the subsidies and development programs that would become available. I am not modest by nature and if someone wanted to stuff some money into my pockets, I would immediately try to equip myself with clothes that feature a greater number of pockets than my existing garb. Nevertheless, perhaps it is the result of a bad upbringing or some genetic mutation, I am not thrilled by the idea that someone will be contributing through their taxes in order to enable me to acquire something that I should be able to obtain through my own efforts if I worked harder or smarter. I have two good hands, as well as a functioning brain (at least I'd like to think so), and so far I have not had to resort to lying down in front of a church with a tin cup in the expectation that those passing by can surely be expected to give me something.
As a country, we are in a similar situation. To be sure, there are much richer countries in the world, countries at whose wealth we look at with envy. At the same time, however, we should keep in mind that some 90% of the world's population would gladly change places with us in an instant.
My question is – are we making sufficient use of what we already have to improve our situation? Couldn't our country get by without performing a number of activities which the state shouldn't really perform anyway, and shouldn't the government instead concentrate on doing well those activities that are part of its "job description", so to speak ? An ineffective court system is something most Czechs take as more or less a given fact of live that we need to resign ourselves to. We hope that we won't need to call on the police since after several hours spent at the police station, all that the officer will do is write up a report and after several weeks have gone by we will receive a notice that the perpetrator of the crime was not found, or that the act committed does not meet the definition of a criminal act. We grumble on about the army, which has one civilian employee for every soldier and which (as most people probably suspect) would be unable to defend us against threats more serious than an attack from a band of hostile knights brandishing weapons from the middle ages. On the other hand, we seem to have a governmental office for addressing every conceivable problem (and in cases where we don't, we will promptly create such office); every citizen has experienced first-hand the competence and helpfulness of our bureaucrats.
If the government made an effort to cut back on expenditures that are clearly unnecessary, perhaps we wouldn't need so many subsidies...
One thing that I find completely unacceptable in this regard are the spineless threats that have been raised with regard to, for example, the matter of agricultural subsidies (as everyone probably knows, agricultural subsidies that support the growing and subsequent export of unnecessary crops, form the bulk of the EU's budget). How can we possibly allow a situation where our Czech farmers would not be able to get the same amount of subsidies as their European counterparts? And if such subsidies caused a Czech farmer's wage to be several times higher than the average wage in the Czech Republic? Doesn't matter, the main thing is not to allow ourselves to be shortchanged by those rich countries, to make sure we get everything we are entitled to, right?
Our country is known for its excessively generous system of benefits for the unemployed, a system that does not motivate people to look for higher-paid work or to (God forbid) improve their work performance or relocate to find a job, a scheme that systemically (how else, since it is a system) encourages the less well-off to become professional applicants for government programs that can be "pumped for some more benefits". In the area of agricultural subsidies, we can also expect that public institutions will end up employing professional (and this time they really will be professional) applicants specializing in seeking new ways to "pump" even more from the EU budget. EU bureaucrats are just like any other bureaucrats – the more money that passes through their hands, the more subordinates they will have assigned to them. This will entitle them to ask for a higher salary and will make them hunger for even more power.
So why am I against EU entry, since the Czech Republic is likely to get more from subsidies that it has to pay out?
Because the government will stop looking for ways to save on expenditures in order to have more money available for necessary projects and will instead look to obtain more and more in taxes from me.
Because I am not at all certain that the people in the EU that will end up paying for the subsidies through their taxes will be in any way pleased about the fact that they have to contribute so that I, a person with capable hands and a functioning brain, can have a higher standard of living.
Because I doubt that anyone will ask the citizens of the existing EU countries questions such as these in a referendum: "Are you in favor of the Czech Republic joining the EU? The amount that it would end up costing you in taxes would be this…"
Because I am not sure whether the citizens of a country whose annual contributions to the poorer 90% of the world's population amount to less than the amount paid to Mr. Kavan as compensation for his post at the UN will be pleased when another EU candidate approaches them with the words: "Pay up, rich guy, we don't have as much as you do and, after all, we are in the same union together!"
Because I doubt that after we become EU members anyone will call a referendum to ask me: "Do you wish to remain in the EU?", or "Do you want such and such new country to enter into the EU? This is how much it would cost…."
So these are my reasons why I will not support EU entry in a referendum, no matter how many subsidies we would stand to get from this. I also have some other reasons but let's leave them for the next time, now I have to go earn some money.