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Bucharest
August 14, 2022
EDITORIAL

Poverty stifles Romania

“Such train of thought can no longer notice that Romania’s demographic collapse, and the consequent aging of its population is an issue more pressing than pollution or global warming. ”

Romania’s government officials are overwhelmed by the current social and economic woes, which are very pressing, and made more difficult by decision makers’ contradictory reactions. This complete involution explains why “providing stability”, the goal that has been sought over the two past years, remains the top priority for the new government as well. Yet, stabilizing the “rule of law” means acknowledging and legitimising the collapse, namely a poverty rate exceeding 40 pc, the highest mortality rate EU wide and a corruption so pervasive it even made inroads in the justice system, all of which amount to a national tragedy.

This tragic perspective is not rooted in the ongoing global economic and financial crisis alone, even if Romania’s government officials usually use the global crisis as an excuse for their own incompetence. A paradoxical excuse, considering that most of the members of the previous and the current government are graduates of some prestigious universities abroad.

Yet, their incompetence is an organic reality rather than a paradox, which is most of the times rooted in their focusing not on long-term issues, but on short-term goals, of which getting rich quick is often a priority. You really need to have heroic personality traits to devote yourself to the wellbeing of the country to the point of sacrificing the lures of personal gain. A sort of devotion and heroism that can’t survive in such plunderous economic climate as ours.

This is exactly the explanation why decision makers in Romania often can’t see the forest for the trees. Therefore, their reaction to the early results of the national census last year should come as no surprise, which shows Romania’s population falling from over 22 million in 1990, to a mere 19 million in 2011. Many of the political decision makers are content with considering the demographic decline and the aging population as a “current reality” in the EU. This way, they think, the percentage rate of hospital beds is on the rise and so are the number of kilometres of motorway per 1000 people. Some “analysts” were even glad at the sharper decline in rural population going to contribute to a lower degree of agrarian property dispersion, which would make “merged “ farming regain its economic superiority, a belief equivalent to a kinship between communism and the plundering capitalism of the day.

Such train of thought can no longer notice that Romania’s demographic collapse, and the consequent aging of its population is an issue more pressing than pollution or global warming. It is exactly this sort of politicking approach scattered to various contradicting directions that explains why none of the newly appointed ministers heard by the legislative commissions made any reference to the demographic collapse. Some of them confined their remarks to social support for mothers with little children, while neglecting the fact that such cases are increasingly fewer and that employers, whether private or public, make the hiring of young women job applicants conditional to their not being pregnant, and their dismissal to the opposite happening. It is therefore to no surprise anymore that over one million abortions are performed annually in Romania, and the infant mortality rate is the highest across Europe.

While it is true that the demographic crisis was noted as early as the 1990s, many of the politicians, irrespective of their political hue, have nonetheless “appeased” the concerns, saying that the trend is similar to that all over Western Europe, as if this could be used as an apology for Romania’s own shortcomings. Other decision makers raised the issue of a ban on the ever increasing divorce rates, and even on abortions, as solutions aimed at reversing the trend. However, such interdictions would only amplify the deficit in human quality, and an would-be demographic redress would not contribute to Romania’s progress.

Multilateral education, too, to give just one example, would suffer, as it is known that a propitious family ambiance is a deciding factor in ensuring educational achievement. This leaves cracking down on poverty, whose proportion is upwards of 40 pc, as the main means of attack against the decline in population and human quality, given poverty is increasing by the year, despite the Romanian agriculture having the potential to feed nearly 80 M people. Should we therefore “become the eminently agrarian country” of more than a century again? Definitely not, as the great Romanian encyclopaedist B.P. Hasdeu made it clear , since “an eminently agrarian country invites a foreign invasion”, a truth fully reconfirmed in today’s Romania. The best solution is therefore to develop a complex, modern and efficient social and economic system relying on the national creative effort first and foremost. And this individual and national creative potential is formed through education. This is exactly the kind of synthesis envisaged by Romania’s interwar slogan “through ourselves!”, which therefore returns as a stringent reality, which is played down today nonetheless. This shows, once again, that ignoring one’s past, its lessons, has sacrificing the future as its flipside.

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