Final Word from Monday, January 2, 2012

In his New Year's address yesterday, Václav Klaus came closer than ever before tothe kind of "blood, sweat and tears" speech that Czechs have needed to hear for atleast the past decade. He said that fundamental changes are needed, esp. in terms ofthe feeling of entitlement and the habit of living on debt. Otherwise, he said, therecould be very painful repercussions. It's hard to disagree with this so far, but it's whatKlaus didn't say that is the most important. He criticized unnamed "pressure groups"(presumably labor unions) for pushing their own agendas, but he made no referencewhatsoever to the industrial and financial groups that have been the main cause ofthe rapid rise in the national debt. When he said that our success or failure stands orfalls primarily with the performance of each of us, he was telling only half the picture.It also depends on what the "godfathers" and oligarchs decide to do in 2012.

Glossary of difficult words

blood, sweat and tears - from a famous speech by Churchill on May 13, 1940 ("I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.");

entitlement - the fact of having a right to something;

repercussions - unintended consequences, esp. unwelcome ones.

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