Why ex-politicians have it so good? 11

It's truly remarkable how Latvian ex-politicians land well-paid jobs, usually on the boards of state-owned firms. Former prime minister Kalvitis (People's Party) just got a place on the board of at Lattelekom, a telecommunications giant that is partially state-owned. Prime Minister Dombrovskis (New Era Party) just said this was one of the conditions for forming the coalition with the People's Party. This appointment can be hardly called a "job" as Mr Kalvitis has little, if any, experience in telecommunications. But it's a very generous reward for his disastrous performance as a prime minister.

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He is not an exception. Here is a lovely one from LETA (emphasis mine):

"MURNIECE DISMISSES LIELJUKSIS. Latvian Interior Minister Linda Murniece has decided to dismiss Interior Ministry state secretary Aldis Lieljuksis, appointing to the post deputy state secretary Ilze Petersone.

The minister has offered Lieljuksis a pro-rector's job at the Latvian Police Academy, saying that while holding the post of State Police chief Lieljuksis made several grave mistakes and there are no guarantees that he will not repeat them."

All in the name of providing good education for Latvia's future policemen, I suppose.

But seriously, why are ex-politicians rewarded with political jobs, even if their incompetence made them a liability to their political parties? This is not a trivial question. These "political appointments" are costly to the parties - I am sure the voters don't take this lightly. Thus, there has to be a benefit to rewarding ex-politicians, even the failed ones. I will leave explanations like comradeship, friendship, etc. to sociologists and focus on the ones that work from individual self-interest. I think there are two such explanations.

First, it is a signal to existing and potential members of the party that they will not be abandoned even after their career is over. "We look after our own", or something like that. However, this introduces some bad incentives for the party members. After all, if they expect a nice retirement package no matter what their political performance is, why invest effort in performing well? It's more optimal for a party to offer a package like "We will look after you, if you do well, if you screw up - you're on your own." That's not what we see. So maybe we should look for another explanation.

So here comes the second, and a more sinister explanation. If an organization operates in the shadow of the law, its members may possess sensitive information. In other words, they may "know too much". In this case, to ensure the interests of the group, you either (i) physically eliminate ex-members, or (iii) provide them with a sufficient reward so that they keep their mouth shut. Then, the prevalence of political appointment for ex-politicians may tell you something about the way in which political system works.

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Komentāri (11) secība: augoša / dilstoša

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Oracle 22.05.2009 19:45
Eleven ways to think like a post-crash economist:

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Andris 17.05.2009 21:33
Yet another indication that the USSR did not have fighting fascism as its first priority - almost nonexistent Soviet support for the Warsaw Uprising in 1944.

Even British planes, who wanted to ship supplies to the insurgents, had hard time negotiating refueling their planes at Soviet controlled airports. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warsaw_Uprising for details.

We should gradually come to a consensus - that the USSR was one of the aggressor states in the World War 2, and was a state that started the hostilities together with Nazi Germany. We can justify that, of course. But then we can justify anything else - just as Hitler's book Mein Kampf explains the German grievances and interests before the war. Speaking of grand imperial designs (either German or Soviet), but disregarding human costs - it's no longer mainstream liberal-democratic politics.

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Andris > AK 16.05.2009 17:27
All the humanity had won over fascism - there is a reason to celebrate the victory everywhere.
====
But what if there is no victory at all? Two thoroughly unpleasant regimes jointly started a war in 1939, then one attacked another; the whole fuss ended 6 years and about 50 million lives later. Latvia for 50 years did not regain independence. Does not sound very exciting.
Perhaps for a hard-core nationalist in Russia it would be enough justification to sacrifice all those millions of people so that they can keep Kaliningrad oblast, Kuril islands, Karelia and small pieces of territory annexed from Estonia and Latvia. Maybe it is worth those many millions of victims - even though I doubt that Russian development has been seriously hampered by the lack of territory.

And shoud we be looking at this from the Russian empire-building perspective? Where is the moral responsibility for attacking Poland and Finland? Supplying Germany for the first two years of the war?

We live in Latvia - during 2nd World War our country lost 2% of its teritory (Abrene), lost some 15-20% of the population as war victims and emigres, lost real independence for many decades afterward.

Commemorating May 8 and May 9 dates with due respect, honoring the veterans and the wartime dead is not a problem. Victory-kind of interpretation may cause a problem. If we can celebrate that as a victory, then we can celebrate any other mass killing "accomplishment" by Soviets, Nazis, Pol Pot or anyone else.

Right now May 9 celebration (in the grand Brezhnev style - as a victory, and "saving the mankind from nazism") is helping to consolidate quite many Russians and Russian speakers in Latvia - so it serves a useful purpose. But eventually you (the political parties PCTVL and SC) will have to deal with whatever consequences such jingoism can cause. Especially, if you are surrounded by people, who will never celebrate anything on May 9.

>>> Or do you wish to forbid celebrating of the common victory of allies (without RL - but with LSSR)?
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I am in no position to forbid anything. If someone wants to be a Soviet or fascist sympathizer, it is his/her right under free speech. But it does not make good partners for a stable political coalition though.

Regarding the legitimacy of LSSR, perhaps the easiest way to refute it is the decision of 1940 Saeima to join USSR. It was contrary to Satversme Article 77 (changing such things would have required a referendum, so joining USSR was definitely not in a competence of Saeima). In the context of 1940-ies we can safely assume that LSSR was just an administrative region within USSR - annexed without due procedure in the presence of hostile troops. It did not have any sovereignty of its own - even as a regime of collaborators.

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AK 16.05.2009 16:21
our country has not been either on fascist side or on anti-fascist side - there's no victory to be celebrated
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1. All the humanity had won over fascism - there is a reason to celebrate the victory everywhere.
2. Russians, Germans, representatives of other nations also fought on both sides - however, there is a reason to celebrate for anti-fascists and a reason to mourn for fascists anywhere.

Individual Latvians did participate in wartime activities on both sides, but their country had ceased to exist by that time
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Country didn't cease to exist - only the regime was changed.

yes, you may celebrate victory by France, Britain or even USSR, but you cannot celebrate victory by Republic of Latvia
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Does somebody actually claim that RL had won?? Please give reference to these strange persons. Or do you wish to forbid celebrating of the common victory of allies (without RL - but with LSSR)?

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Andris 16.05.2009 15:25
>>> Besides, if a person has another view on history or future of Latvia, it doesn't mean he isn't loyal.
=====
It's all quite easy - denounce the Latvian occupation by USSR in 1940, recognize that it was USSR which started World War 2 together with Nazi Germany.


>>> if you don't consider that to celebrate a victory over fascism is awful
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I think it has been explained over and over again - Latvia did NOT win victory over anything in 1945. BTW Republic of Latvia in 1939-1940 did declare a neutrality. So our country has not been either on fascist side or on anti-fascist side - there's no victory to be celebrated. Individual Latvians did participate in wartime activities on both sides, but their country had ceased to exist by that time. So, yes, you may celebrate victory by France, Britain or even USSR, but you cannot celebrate victory by Republic of Latvia - because it was not even restored as a result of this war.

I can live with people commemorating May 9 or any other war-related date for that matter. But any glorification of Nazi or USSR regimes (especially related to their most bloody expression - the warfare as conducted by Stalin and Hitler) I consider totally tasteless by state politicians. Such politics may even be popular (and even come to power), but it inevitably suffers from the Jörg Haider syndrome - many people will shun this, and won't ever come to terms with such

It is not my business, but I even doubt, if 1945 is a victory even from Russian perspective. About 23-27 million lives were lost. And based on what can be seen from statistics, Russia has not quite recovered yet. 1970 was about the time, when Soviet infrastructure and labor productivity came closest to the USA. Since then, it basically stagnated. USSR had already its human resources exhausted by that time. But let the numbers speak (take the Gapminder application and pick "Total fertility rate" on one axis and "Life expectancy" on another). See the demographic perspective of Russia (and of Latvia for that matter as well). Millions senselessly killed just because Stalin wanted to help Hitler to destroy Poland in 1939. This hardly counts as victory. But let the numbers speak.
http://graphs.gapminder.org/world/#$majorMode=chart$is;shi=t...

Hans Rosling presenting at TED - http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/hans_rosling_shows_the_be...

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AK 15.05.2009 22:07
one huge obstacle - most politically active Russians are in one way or another compromised themselves - it all revolves with history questions, attitudes towards May 9, Latvian occupation by Stalin's forces, mass repressions, etc. I will not trust guys like Mr.Usakovs, if he actively celebrates occupation of our land - May 9, or even is hesitant about recognizing Latvian occupation by the Soviets at all Do we need to wait for even younger generation of ethnic Russians in Latvia to be loyal to our country?
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It's not about Russians compromising themselves - if you don't consider that to celebrate a victory over fascism is awful. It's about Latvian elite looking for explanations why Russians should not be trusted and this rotten elite should remain.

Also, there is no politician in Latvia - Latvian or Russian - who would deny or glorify mass deportations.

Besides, if a person has another view on history or future of Latvia, it doesn't mean he isn't loyal.

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Rita Našeniece 15.05.2009 20:49
sorry - last sentence has to be as
"Thereby I can NOT share the agitation of author as regards this particular case."

Once again - I agree that in a case of K., yes, it a local malady. And, yes, I have the stand that the state has to use any kind of chance to keep the expertise around.

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Rita Našeniece 15.05.2009 20:14
Actually Lieljuksis is not and has never been a politician. He is a pure water high class professional practitioner. He has not been dismissed on the basis of his incompetence, but in a large extent because the minister considers that the situation has too high demand towards decisive actions. This is more of the personality issues and it happens not only in Latvia. And I have a clear understanding of the intentions of the minister.

It is incompatible to put in one basket Kalvitis who, I am afraid, hardly has any kind of the distinguished professional background apart of being a (failed) politician. Thereby I can share the agitation of author as regards this particular case.

Apart of that - sure, I see the point and it is valid. Although not for the particular case mentioned above.

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Trauts 15.05.2009 14:27
First - it's safe place where to pass the winter in case of non-election.
Second - they are also are generating money by donating it to party.
Third - it's like criminal organization - if you will keep your mouth shut and obey our orders we will grant you nice place after your term.
The question is do we really need these boards? It's been common practice that boards of state owned firms are from party and usually non-professionals and I think their contribution to firm is close to zero.

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Andris 15.05.2009 14:19
What about the third explanation: That even not so successful former politicians have above par relationships with men and women in power, and they posess other human capital as well. Just because of a pragmatic self-interest it is good to reward trusted people, and continue to have influence in crucial enterprises like Lattelecom.

If reliable people in such sinecure posts are a must, and if the choice is between Mr. Kalvitis and "driver's son", "neighbor", "third cousin" of Mr.Slesers, then I prefer Mr.Kalvitis. Because he has at least minimum competence for such appointments, rather than mere loyalty.

Perhaps in the USA the slogan "We will look after you, if you do well, if you screw up - you're on your own." does work. In Latvia we do not have too many people, who are fit for the top posts - our political nation is still young. So we must use whatever human resources we've got.

Certainly, we need to broaden the power base - ruling coalition is not much trusted either by Latvians or Russians. About 20 years ago there were many Russian speakers holding posts of power in large state industries and elsewhere. Many of them are still here; and younger Russians could have excellent qualifications. Whether all people would like it or no - there is objective need to use their qualifications in various posts of leadership.

But currently there is one huge obstacle - most politically active Russians are in one way or another compromised themselves - it all revolves with history questions, attitudes towards May 9, Latvian occupation by Stalin's forces, mass repressions, etc. I will not trust guys like Mr.Usakovs, if he actively celebrates occupation of our land - May 9, or even is hesitant about recognizing Latvian occupation by the Soviets at all Do we need to wait for even younger generation of ethnic Russians in Latvia to be loyal to our country?

Until this happens, it is inevitable that people, who have mid-level manager skills (like Mr.Kalvitis, who would be nice director of a small food processing plant) are taking top level jobs. Just because they are not glorifying Soviet occupation and are trusted by their party.

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