The Ten-year Experience
Edited by Lucjan T. Orlowski
Chapter 11: Welfare state reforms in post-communist countries: A comment on Barr
¬ Stanis¬awa Golinowska My comment is an attempt to supplement assumptions and explanations presented by Barr, and rarely to verify them. I look at these issues from the Polish perspective, which probably resembles the views of colleagues from other Central European countries, and possibly the Baltic states. It is possible that colleagues from other former Soviet Union (FSU) states would have different comments on Barr, as the transformation of the welfare state in these countries comes hand in hand with a decline in economic growth. WHY DID THE EASTERN BLOC SOCIETIES REJECT CENTRAL PLANNING? From the economic point of view, the answer to this question is straightforward. It was an inefficient system, and the consequences of its inefficiency became transparent, taking a heavy toll on the everyday life of the society. From the social standpoint, the answer is much more complicated. The socialist welfare state gave everybody a sense of security and peaceful existence within the community of an enterprise, which despite low wages managed to satisfy the emotional needs of individual workers. Competition among employees was basically non-existent and the enterprise demonstrated a great deal of understanding for human weaknesses and failures (Narojek, 1991). However, a low appeal of manufactured consumer goods coupled with shortages and long queues contributed to the rejection of this perceived peace. In addition, the lack of a proper motivation system that rewards responsibility, effectiveness and creativity resulted in either acquired helplessness or group selfishness and a ‘swim with the tide’ attitude (Marody, 1988). Eventually,...
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