Hungary’s desperate prime minister has an offer many of his countrymen would seem unlikely to refuse: Make more babies and never pay income taxes again.
Like many developed countries, Hungary’s number of births has dropped below the replacement rate. That, combined with emigration, has created a severe labor shortage across that land.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban has tried several incentives, including free university tuition to those who promise to stay in Hungary.
Now, comes his sexiest incentive yet: Have four children and be free of income taxes — for life.
In a state of the nation address last weekend Oban said:
We are living in times when fewer and fewer children are being born throughout Europe. People in the West are responding to this with immigration. Hungarians see this in a different light. We do not need numbers, but Hungarian children.
Unlike, say, Germany, Hungary under the conservative Orban has resisted the urge — rejected might be a better word — to admit thousands of immigrants of any kind.
But that’s especially, you know, immigrants from the strife-torn Middle East as in Muslims, who’ve demonstrated a fervent resistance to assimilation in other lands. Hungary for Hungarians.
Last year in a speech Orban made his strong feelings clear:
The results of gradual mass population movement that we see in Western European cities comparable in size to ours hold no attractions, I must admit. They hold no attractions, despite the claims of some egghead or other that diversity is an asset.
Diversity is not an asset, but a characteristic: an asset is something different, meaning something else….
We must not allow the ground to be cut away from under our feet in moral or ethical debates, because we must defend Hungary as it is now. We must state that we do not want to be diverse and do not want to be mixed: we do not want our own color, traditions and national culture to be mixed with those of others.
We do not want this. We do not want that at all. We do not want to be a diverse country. We want to be how we became 1100 years ago her.
You may have gotten the sense from those words that a rainbow Hungary is not his plan. To accomplish that, he’s adding even more incentives to his birth uncontrol plan.
Four or more kids and bye-bye income taxes forever. Then, parents will also see their car and mortgage payments reduced.
Oban says he’s also going to build more day-care centers, create new programs to ease family loans and even allow grandparents to share in generous maternity leave provisions.
The 55-year-old Oban is no hypocrite though. He and Aniko Levai have already done their part. They have five children.