Boy I’m Hungary

Tag: Boy I’m Hungary

We’re #22!

MedalsEvery two years sportscasters around the nation and around the world keep track of Olympic glory by reporting the medal count.  Currently, the Netherlands leads the pack with 17 medals, with the U.S. and Russian Federation close behind at 16.

But is that really a fair comparison?  The U.S. has almost 20 times as many people as the Netherlands and therefore 20 times more citizens who could potentially excel in dancing on ice, skeet shooting, curling, or bandying (?).   It would be like measuring economic development by total GDP rather than per-capita GDP (wait, we do that, too).

That’s why it’s refreshing that the good folks at are keeping it real for us, taking the total medal count and dividing by the population. “Olympic Glory in Proportion” is their motto, and I couldn’t agree more.

With that adjustment, tiny Norway with just 5 million people (fewer people than in Wisconsin!) is in the lead, with the Netherlands falling to fourth.   Slovenia, with a mere two million people, has racked up five medals and is in the second spot.  The U.S. is a distant 22nd place.  Owie. 

They also weight medals based per dollar of GDP, which really shakes things up.  With this adjustment, Latvia, Slovenia, and Belarus are completely dusting the competition.

In case anyone was wondering, Hungary has yet to medal in these Olympics, so the per capita adjustment doesn’t do much in this case.  Indeed, the proud Hungarian nation hasn’t had a medal in the Winter Games since the indomitable Krisztina Regőczy and András Sallay took silver in the ice dancing back in 1980.

I guess since it was a silver medal they were somewhat domitable.

Two more reasons…

That creative new strategy to spur FDI almost had me convinced, but I felt I needed perhaps a little more evidence. Maybe… a video? Why, I am glad I asked—there is one.

But still—that’s only one reason. Is there another? But of course, why didn’t I think of that: my father-in-law could ask me, not to mention my psychotherapist (with a father-in-law like that, I might need one).

Still, I wasn’t quite sold… until I saw this barrage of reasons. Obviously, a great many have already invested heavily in Eastern Poland; I suppose I might have already missed my chance.

I suppose I’ll just have to invest in Hungary, where all the important things were invented, and therefore many more important things are clearly going to be invented. (This video follows the great Hungarian tradition of claiming inventions as Hungarian even if they were made abroad, for foreign companies, by Hungarian-born immigrants…)

Goulash capitalism?

The Hungarian version of Soviet-style economy was often referred to as “goulash communism“—it was a more permissive, generally more prosperous variant than what existed in several other Warsaw Pact countries. If the unique capitalism that Hungary is creating is to be “goulash capitalism,” it’s going to be a low-fat version. This will give yet another reason for some older folks wistfully to declare that “at least in the good old days, goulash used to be goulash.”

Brings to mind some of the happiest moments of my childhood… thanks, NYT!

(This seems like a good time to point out that goulash is a soup, and a very good one. It has beef, potatoes, paprika, sometimes beans, and other things. It is not some kind of a stew, or, worse yet, ground meat with some sauce.)

Hungary rarely gets on the front page of the New York Times, but the new Hungarian tax on fatty, sugary foods was such a bold step towards a healthier Hungary that even American journalists took notice. While the justification for the tax is the national need for a leaner populace, the real reason is probably the government’s need for a fatter treasury. Those of you taking Comparative Economic Systems are probably crying “soft paternalism!” right now. Or “hard paternalism.” As to the financial consequences: if the tax really cuts down on the consumption of unhealthy foodstuffs, not only will there be little revenue generated form the tax, but the very low Hungarian life expectancy will rise, costing the state more in health care expenditures.  Continue reading Goulash capitalism?