COMMENT

Pandering to bad behavior

By Angelos Stangos

One of the main reasons why the Greek economy went to pieces and the country experienced an overall decline is that it has always operated at the service of bad behavior. What this resulted in was an incredible web of distortions from which it cannot extract itself, in a state that is ineffective if not incapable, in mountains of red tape and in a prevailing sense of impunity. It was this that created expectations that could never be realistically achieved and the mind-sets that feed off of these and into these. What’s worse is that the country has still not changed tack.

When we talk about pandering to bad behavior, we are not referring to compromises. This is a foreign notion in this country, especially when it comes to compromises with reality or between political parties. We mean all those perpetual policy changes and amendments that are aimed entirely at getting someone off the hook, getting someone a cushy appointment or contract, or allowing someone to get away with shoddy work and shady dealings. This is why the laws that are voted through Parliament are almost never succinct and almost always require a whole list of clarifications and explanations. Even then, they allow the executive arm of the state to implement them or not at will.

Another interesting point is that these amendments, changes and alterations almost always benefit individuals who for many different reasons have either failed to make good on their obligations, have broken the law or have violated ethical and moral standards, who have misled the people, have flaunted deadlines and have taken advantage of their position. Every so often, for example, there is a discussion about how to alleviate the burden on owners of illegal buildings, people who trespassed on state-owned or even protected land and who are demanding immunity from having their property demolished. Taxpayers who have failed to declare their incomes or who fear a visit by the auditors are so often the subject of clemency, as are borrowers who fail to pay off their loans and hide behind those who really cannot afford to do so. Every wrongdoer, from the guy who runs a stop sign to the civil servant who presented a false high school diploma to get appointed, feels entitled to special treatment, feels they have the right to complain, justify their own bad behavior and then demand relief.

The state has always and continues to put its protective arm around all of them as public dialogue is almost constantly dominated by the problems of the whingers. There is also the fact that Greek politicians have absolutely no idea about the concepts of rule of law, order, equality before the law and meritocracy.

And so we have come to a dead end and keep hitting our heads against the same brick wall, believing that this is how problems go away when the opposite is true.

Online