OPINION

‘Crude capital’

The crashes of three emergency rescue helicopters in two years has, once again, catapulted a structural problem of Greek society onto center stage: Greece has allowed room for business activity which is alien to fair competition and closer to a strong-armed concept of profit-making. Faced with bureaucratic obstacles and entrepreneurial perils, productive capital innovates in order to strengthen its market position. It thus creates wealth, new jobs and contributes to national growth. «Crude capital,» on the other hand, reinforces its position by bypassing the rules of healthy competition and resorting to political and business entanglement. Having secured protection, «crude capital» is soon taken over by greed which, in turn, pushes it to engage in opportunistic tactics, such as quality discounts, that put human lives in danger. The case of Helitalia, the Italian company that operates and maintains Greece’s ambulance helicopters, is no exception. The builders of the National Road in the Peloponnese, which was seriously damaged after the recent rainstorms, also belong to the same category. When such incidents occur, organized propaganda tries to convince us that we are dealing with an accident. The committees which are presumably appointed to examine such cases are mere window-dressing. It is no accident that it took a third crash to crack the protective shell of political and business entanglement and to dictate drastic measures. Such incidents, of course, are not accidents. They are the statistically unavoidable effect of stinting on quality in making and maintaining the works. The tangled interests which squander public money face no such problem. There is no blood associated with their activities. They merely use up the surplus money which could be invested to upgrade people’s quality of life. There are many examples of dubious contracts and project assignments. We will only mention the case of gaming systems operator Intralot, which was ordered to pay millions of euros in compensation to soccer pools lottery firm OPAP for earnings lost after OPAP failed to introduce horse-racing and greyhound betting games which Intralot would have developed. That cut no ice with state officials, though it has been an open secret for years that state-owned OPAP was essentially controlled by Intralot, enabling it to sign lucrative contracts.