Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Casino Royal? Reminiscenses of my childhood

This blog tends to be quite boring, I must apologize again, but instead of the announced posts on Romania or Germany (later, later...) I felt an inspiration to share my views on another funny personality from Hungary. The pretext to focus on his deeds is an announcment from last week that his construction company will establish a huge complex near Pratislava/Pozsony with hotels, a casino, a spa etc. The plan is grandoman one, although not without precedents, Hungary was somehow a favorite location - at least tehoretically, as no plans were realized yet - for companies to build a European Las Vegas. One of these attempts is under investigation after the company was accused to manipulate with the swap of territory with the state, another one is allegedly on its way to realization, suprisingly quite close to the place where this new complex is planned. Anyway, casino and the turist flow awaited from such an enterprise seems to be an object of desire for many entrepreneurs. In this case 1,5 billion euro is the invested amount.
It is strange to see the extent of reverence this businessman is treated. As if he would be a genius. This time the announcment was covered with a badly hidden feeling of disappointment and loss, with sour remarks to the Hungaian burocracy and environmental movements because they are blocking the realization of similar plans in Hungary, without any doubts regading its use or viability. If Demján embarks on this project it should be a kind of Eldorado, imply these recations. Not to speak of an alleged 30000 new employee and a 5% rise in Sovak GDP. Obviously, it was also unavoidable to read some sentences on the superiority of the Slovak tax system and state policies, especially as the manager of the planned construction works emphasized this factor behind their decision.
This small and in itself not really significant story is a very good illustration of the lack of critical approach and a servient and self-submissive stance in the public. Demján is treated as an economc genius, Slovakia is the object of our desires and every statement of a construction company - clearly biased - is accepted at face value. The general mood resembled a disaster. (The ironical side of the story is that one of the newspapers, Népszabadság, a couple of days later published a report from Bratislava/Pozsony infroming the public of the doubts raised in Slovakia itself...)
However, Demján was never an economic genius, at least not in the sense being a good economist. Hew grew influential as a manager of a state run chain of deprment stores and later he represented a Canadian businessman from the field of construction, Peter Munk. (Maybe the company usually described as his is still owned by Munk...) It is hard to escape the impression that he never has risked his money and got rich using someone else's. But it is simple jelousy, I wont deny. The real paradox of the story that Demján for some years advocates a strange economic policy for Hungary. (As he is accepted without doubts as an economic oracle he had a lot of opportunity to explain it...) To get rid of every "non-productive" sector and focus - i.e. support it with every possible means, subsidies, tax cuts etc. - on industry! And no one ever asked Demján why is he building instead of producing? Why is he inclined to establish a casino when he could have establish a factory? No one ever became curious of this strange contradiction. Apart from the reality and the reasonability of such proposals it recalled a very old - and as I believed outdated - notion of (vulgar)marxist concept: the comprador bourgeoisie. A social group subordianting everything to the interests of foreign capitalists and making gains as the representatives of it...

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