Are the Czechs Cheapskates?

Eva Střížovská 9 2012 Aktuality English

When I visited Chicago many years ago, I learned that the Czechs in the area are referred to as “cipaci”- the word comes from “Czechenglish” and is derived from the English word “cheap”. In other words it refers to people who are tight-fisted, penny pinching, niggardly or extremely parsimonious.

It is true that when the Czech immigrants came to America they were not rich. Usually they came with nothing and had to work very hard to survive. Many of them were skilled and willing to work and thus they became successful entrepreneurs and many obtained academic degrees. I have heard that there is not a single institution of higher learning in the United States that does not have a Czech person on the faculty.

But when they are asked to subscribe to a magazine- which costs about the same as a restaurant meal- they find it to be a problem. I know what I am talking about. Four years ago the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affaires (before it got irritated by ”rude” editorials) used to buy the journal Czech Dialogue and send it to various embassies and organizations. I often received letters saying: …” I found a copy of your magazine by chance…’. Often our subscribers made copies of certain articles so that they could show them to their friends. In short, our people like to get things cheap or for free. Much has been written about this characteristic in many papers.

But we are not talking about Czechs abroad only. Why do the various chain stores that “attacked” our little country after 1989 make so much money? They offer sales and more sales and advertise them on television, on streetcars, and right in the stores where the sales are called Akce- Actions. You can buy yogurt for 7 instead of for 10 crowns on sale. Who would not buy it? Let’s buy at least ten of them right away. And in addition many other things that we do not need – and thus the stores make lots of money.

Last winter we published the last printed edition of the Czech Dialogue and we explained that we would continue on the internet. We did it for financial reasons, even though internet journals are rather “trendy” these days.

Our magazine has always been done by volunteers, predominantly by females. We do not get paid anything, but we have to pay rent for a small office, telephone, water, electric and-surprise, surprise- even the webpage is not for free! (Yesterday I had to laugh at the news about the Ministry of Finance- they are going to have new web pages which will cost hundreds of thousands of crowns. Our pages cost about a hundred times less, but even those have to be paid for…

From our former subscribers only a few good people contributed so far- as many as you have fingers on one hand and a half. My colleague ing. Fialkova is trying to get businesses to pay for advertising in our magazine. However, when I compare the energy that she had spent to do so with the result from the business cheapskates… I almost want to forbid her to continue and quit publishing the magazine even on the internet. Why should she ruin her nerves getting together a few crowns during the best years of her life ( and have no time to finish her interesting book called Talks without Borders), and why should I ( a retiree with a mini-pension) spend my time with articles for a magazine- while having written several books about our countrymen that are ready for publication?

Does anybody have some good advice? Let’s have it- write to us!

Vydavatelem Českého dialogu je Mezinárodní český klub

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