October 18, 2021

Biology Reporter

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Government manipulation.  In 2020, we made fewer ads

Government manipulation. In 2020, we made fewer ads

TVP’s “manipulation” and “Wiadomości” have become virtually inseparable in recent years. Manipulations and lies, disguise of party narratives as information – all this can be watched every day at 7:30 pm on publicly funded television. Everything is subject to one goal – that 2-3 million viewers of the program per day see how the PiS government cares about all Poles and how the “total” opposition is trying to destabilize Poland.

In theory, everything is already done, and in theory we are used to it and treat “news” as a curiosity and an anti-press paradigm. However, from time to time there is an example of manipulation so brazen and multi-story that it is worth spending a few minutes on it.

‘News’ about greedy nurses

Why did the health spending issue come up even in Widomochi on Monday, June 7? It’s the nurses’ strike. According to the author of the material, nurses earn a lot, but they still have little.

News viewers were supposed to see the graph (about it in a moment) and think the government is giving way too much money for health, so they don’t have to worry.

Let’s pause at this point for a moment, and let’s be frank: government-controlled television distorts the facts in defense of the deeply feminine workforce in the public sector struggling for better wages.

During the Warsaw protest, one of the nurses said:

Today, the average age of nurses is 53, and in 2030 it will be 60. Most of us will be retired and retired. The pandemic has shown how much we are missing from sick beds. If we do not encourage young people in working conditions, 272 hospitals will disappear in the coming years. Not because the walls would collapse, but because there would be no nurses and midwives.”

We write here in more detail about the strike and the problems of nurses.

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Outline from the book Manipulation

We will not know who “Wiadomości”. The material is supposed to leave us with the impression that nurses are greedy because they demand higher salaries, and the government gives a lot of money for health.

How exactly does public television manipulate this? Let’s take a look at the graph that appears on the screen. It is supposed to display healthcare spending as a percentage of GDP.

We have a number of problems here:

  • The height of the bars is adjusted so that the PiS years look like a stronger increase (axis s starts from 4%)
  • In the timeline during the PO-PSL base we have one bar per year, and in the PiS era we cut the years 2017-2019, then 2022, 2024-2026. Thanks to this, growth “thanks to PiS” seems to be faster;
  • Expectations of the future cannot be treated in the same way as real ones, and on the graph the future and times of PiS have one color (in this Poland, from the imagination of TVP – it is clear that PiS wins the upcoming elections and rules until 2027) ;
  • Although the data sources are the Central Bureau of Statistics and the Ministry of Health, the data were calculated and put together in a questionable manner, which will be discussed shortly

The government is proud that it promised in the Polish newspaper Lada that in 2023 it would donate 6 per cent to health. GDP, and in 2027 – 7 percent. This is basically nothing new. In 2018, the government pledged that it will reach 5.8% in 2023, which is not much more. 6 percent was supposed to be in 2024. However, these are essentially still promises and cannot be treated as data that is actually comparable to civilian platform times.

creative accounting

And we have another problem, which is government accounting. Here we go beyond the “news” and their creativity.

The government uses GDP from two years ago to calculate how much GDP is spent on health. So health spending in 2019 relates to GDP in 2017. This might have some justification at the time of planning – say, it’s 2018, we only have solid GDP data from 2017, and we have to plan for next year. But you can, for example, use the forecast for the coming year, which are usually very accurate.

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On the occasion of the resident doctors’ protest, the law required the government to pay 6 percent. GDP in 2024. At the time, this accounting treatment meant that instead of 4.9 percent. Indeed, in 2019 the government stated that less spending was planned – 4.5 percent.

At the time, these were just predictions, but today’s OECD data seems to confirm that. According to the statistics of this organization, in 2019, Poland spent only 4.3% on health. gross domestic product. There may be two reasons for the difference. First, using GDP at purchasing power parity rather than nominal values ​​- this makes it easy to compare this data between countries. Second, this is still preliminary data, so it may be subject to a slight revision. If we calculate the percentage of health spending in 2016-2018 in the same way, it is almost completely in line with the OECD data (the only difference is 4.6% in 2016 instead of 4.5% in the OECD database).

According to OECD data, in 2019 Poland ranked fourth in terms of spending on health. Only Mexico, Turkey and Latvia are behind us. We have 33 countries. And in 2019, he magically disappeared from the TVP chart.

Magic tricks

Let’s go further. In 2020 – as Wiadomości boasts – Poland spent 108 billion PLN on health. This is the total amount of the NHF budget and money from the state budget. According to the Central Statistical Office, the gross domestic product for 2020 is estimated at PLN 2,324 billion.

This means that in 2020, Poland spent 4.6 percent on health. gross domestic product.

According to the chart from “Wiadomości” – 5 percent. If we relate PLN 108 billion to GDP from 2018, we have 5.1 percent. But 106.6 billion is planned in the 2020 budget. This was 5% of GDP from 2018 – perhaps this is where TVP got its problematic figure.

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If we take the forecast of the World Bank, according to which the Polish economy will grow in 2021 by 3.8 percent, instead of the 5.3 percent presented on TVP, then the planned amount of PLN 120 billion for health will give 5 percent. gross domestic product. On the other hand, if we compare it to GDP two years ago, that is, as of 2019, we get – as you probably guessed – 5.3 percent. What is the purpose of linking spending after the crisis and epidemics to the GDP before the crisis and epidemic? Only the government and its loyal comrade, Telewizja Polska, know the answer to this question.

Apparently, all subsequent data is generated the same way. This roughly means that six and seven percent loud ads are also worthless.

Jacob Chemzak
Jacob Chemzak

A graduate of history at Jagiellonian University, he studied Arabic at Adam Mickiewicz University and the Polish School of Journalism. Published, inter alia, in Res Publica Nowa, Kontakt Monthly, Znak and Tygodnik Powszechny. At OKO.press he writes about economics and social policy.