The price of a paper clip: the government knew, the public did not

The price of a paper clip: the government knew, the public did not
The price of a paper clip: the government knew, the public did not

Associative photo

Recently, thanks to a journalist, the fact about government people spending thousands of tax money that we have paid is not clear to whom and for what purposes. It is simply a decent supplement to the salary conveniently packed into “office expenses”, which is not uncommon for a citizen of the country to live on, while a retiree does not even receive such a pension. It turns out that this supplement did not have to account for how many paper clips were bought or how many letters were written to voters. The authorities knew about it. Society – no.

Only vaping is heard
Neither the Prime Minister nor the suspects themselves have denied such (in)order, which has been in effect until now, and probably more important women and men of the state would not deny either. All we hear these days is just vaping, we hear not for our own needs, all the office expenses – you need to drive to work, you need computers, printers, paper, pens and erasers, postcards, maybe candy. Everything is for the voters, for their benefit, to serve those representatives properly, or at least to please them with sweets if the service is not successful.
Of course, certain additional funds for such activities are not needed for personal use, this practice also applies in foreign countries, because politicians hire their office workers and organize other activities from representative funds. It is not surprising that such funds are available to Lithuanian politicians, but it is not justified when those funds appear to end up in personal pockets.
During the three decades of the free country, while living in several districts of Lithuania, I tried to count how many personal, according to one political classic, ordinary “man from the street” received local council members, and, God forbid, signs of attention from a busy member of the Seimas or some minister. I couldn’t remember receiving paper letters or greeting cards on the occasion of important or less important anniversaries either from my neighbors or from my family (after all, they would certainly boast). Unless, on the occasion of the big annual holidays, “Dear people of the N district” were smeared with some commissioned holiday greeting in the district newspapers. I only remember such a half-funny adventure from my hometown, when the children of a 90-year-old resident asked their mother “greetings from the district” anyway.

Long ago without a conscience
Where the money goes, we wondered only after the problem became public. Maybe those funds are melted by writing letters enticing foreign businesses, investors or tourists, personally serving them organic thyme tea with a classic šakoti, so that only they choose Lithuania, so that one euro spent only for this purpose brings two benefits. But we will not get reports about it. Because they don’t exist. Because there is no set procedure for dealing with the inexhaustible amount of the state budget, so why collect and accumulate shopping receipts and pay honestly if no one asks for it. One minister, in a offended tone, without any twinge of conscience, admitted out loud that this had been known for a long time, as others had done before, as if wondering why those journalists had approached him and his colleagues.
“The feeling of injustice remains,” he consoled the whole of Lithuania on the radio. Unfortunately, such a feeling arises not only for him, but primarily for us, the public, those who pay taxes and fill the budget. Because no one is reckoning with us. And not only. How to feel, what justice to expect for children and youth, what example to follow when the Minister of Education, Science and Sports cannot explain her financial twists and turns. Follow and repeat her activities?

Vežimaitis – to the other side
How can you believe that justice and truth will prevail when the Prime Minister, who at first used a whip because of the situation, only found out what the first stain fell on, immediately got down and turned the cart to the other side. You see, there are so many problems here, and here the funds have been used up so significantly. In defense of her colleague, the Prime Minister added that she herself has never used and does not use any office funds. So you can get by without extra money? The example is good, but why can’t it become an aspiration for others, especially now, when we are talking about the time of financial difficulties and austerity, the ever-increasing national debt? Let’s just imagine how Lithuania would become famous and rich, if everyone who gets enough from the state’s pocket stopped doing so one day. Or if one day it was openly and decisively established that the salaries of the member of the Seimas, the minister, the member of the municipal council and other important public officials are solid and without any clerical financial trickery. Maybe then, in order to earn such a salary, more educated professionals would start applying for these positions, not just managers, good friends or family members. The truth is simple – if the representative government we elect will only earn their bread, then who will be the one to butter them and will we be satisfied with that?
The question that naturally arises as to why nothing is being done to bring order then disappears like an echo in the wilderness. Isn’t it strange that until now the top of the country’s government can’t handle such a simple thing – accounting of expenses? The situation is familiar from the Soviet past, it exists today, probably also in some other former Soviet-influenced country, where it was a matter of honor to “combine” something, “get away with it”. Where conscience and sense of responsibility really was (and still is?) alive, although transparency and responsibility are loudly and pompously declared.

Those who did not get along were threatened with collapse
Society is silent, we are no longer surprised by any intolerable immoral things, because we are overwhelmed by all kinds of problems, we don’t even remember if we are still living in the state of emergency. The pandemic was replaced by war, migrant spiders marched, strong fences were erected for them, we are like suffocating fish entangled in the traps of electrical networks. We are overwhelmed by skyrocketing prices, disappearing essential services, children are distracted by endless reforms of the education system, farmers are lost in all the GAAB (good agricultural and environmental conditions and other requirements), which the Ministry of Agriculture has spread and barely understands its own requirements. The minister of finance, who threw a new tax cloth over the “animal farm”, turns out to be “equal” to those who intend to curb the self-employed and all other “animals” and could not explain in which pocket she could fit a couple of tens of thousands. The president’s adviser hastily put the statement on the table without even explaining it – a universal panic of financial responsibility.
In a strange way, the chairman of the Conservative Party reacted to the “paperclip scandal” by childishly threatening to withdraw from this sandbox, because the game is not going the way he wants it to at the moment. To make it even worse, we, who did not understand, were threatened with the collapse of the Government or even new elections, instead of a promise to solve the problem. When a pedophilia scandal of a different – ​​moral – nature came to the surface, we didn’t get such a stormy reaction as if we slipped on the simplest paper clip. And after all, everything would be simple and clear if the paper clips that were really or supposedly purchased were used for their purpose – to staple expense receipts. If it is so difficult to manage in the office, how about order in the country?


The article is in Lithuanian

Tags: price paper clip government knew public


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