Agi and I talk a lot about how communism was simply terrible for Hungarians. No country or economic system is perfect (market-based capitalism has many problems) but communism was horrendously flawed mainly because it was fundamentally unfair. Hard-working, talented, productive people were not rewarded for their excellence while mediocre, unproductive people thrived. The slackers basically lived off the superior efforts of the good workers by re-directing money to themselves--although this was characterized as giving resources to "the people." You can immediately see why--with these incentives--a country would quickly become unproductive. However, there were still rich people under communism. The rich people were the communist party leaders and Orwell, in Animal Farm, summed up their hypocrisy brilliantly: "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."
Having this context in mind when living here is crucial to understand why the government is still very inefficient, many "re-habilitated ex-communist" leaders are still corrupt and incompetent, and many Hungarian workers (especially those in their forties and fifties) still adhere to the old communist philosophy: I'll pretend to work while you pretend to pay me.
And yet this post has a happy ending because I mainly wanted to highlight that things ARE changing for the better. An excellent case study for this is Agi's brother's wife's dad: Bela. Bela is a great man who has been a fantastic father and who has built up a company that operates with exceptional integrity. Ever since the Wall fell, his company (which builds office buildings and houses) has done great work and his reputation for excellence has grown. He tells each worker that if something isn't perfect, the worker needs to tear it down and start over. He also only hires guys that don't smoke (because it's truly amazing all the smoke breaks that people take...) and he's been a mentor to many of his young workers regarding how to be a better husband and how to invest their earnings and save up.
Under communism, Bela could not thrive as he is now. It's encouraging when you see good people rise to the top. And Bela recently congratulated himself with one of these.