The Roman Empire, the British Empire, America, Facebook, bartering, the banking system…
What do they all have in common?
They did not or will not last forever.
The experience of Cyprus, in going for the big bucks (ie, entering the euro) rather than concentrating on a moderate yet working profit shows us this. And Poland is a good counterpoint. Here is a nation in Central Europe, which realised the potential of the euro, but decided to focus on the value of its own currency.
Ultimately, Cyprus paid the price for putting money above all else. Poland, still a poor nation, has a reputation as a ‘Green Island’ in Europe.
This is a lesson that is not being learned by enough foreign investors in Poland. It may be cheaper to do business there, and labour may be scandalously cheap, but ultimately there has to be a value to anything that is sold, and that value has to be more than money.
Amongst the worst offenders in Poland are the foreign media companies, which think that it’s okay to pay a Polish native speaker to produce poor English copy for public consumption. Clearly, this is a case of going for profit over cost. If Google likes your product, it doesn’t matter what the content is like, or even whether it is legible.
But what happens when the inevitable happens? When there is no Google, when there’s no Facebook, when the only value that your company has is in the service or goods that it produces?
Considering the current crisis in Europe, there’s a good chance that this will happen in our lifetime. The value of a company always lies in the value of its offerings, and offering rubbish in order to increase profit will ultimately unscrew everything that those companies hold dear.
It’s offensive too. Any non-Polish business in Poland that does such a thing is, from this particular perspective, saying that Poles are too stupid to notice the mistakes, but will continue to pay up for amateur promotion that ultimately makes them a laughing stock. It’s especially annoying when the British, Commonwealth and American businesses in Poland make such assumptions, because there would be no Britain, America or Commonwealth if the Polish hadn’t rescued them in the second world war.
This isn’t about money as a means of security – look again at Cyprus to see this. It’s not about ‘the market’ either – which is ultimately a nicely wrapped expression for greed. It’s about the true meaning of ‘the market’, which so many companies operating in economies lower than their own completely miss – which is, that the market is ultimately about value.
Picture: Screenshot from one of the many Polish media outlets run by native English-speaking foreigners who really should know better.