OPINION

The pie dogma

A senior government official bragging over his long service in a large state-owned corporation, when asked about his achievement, described the corporation he served as a «big pie.» «The better you divvy it out,» he was fond of saying, «the better hopes you have of keeping your post.» The pie dogma seems to have prevailed for decades, not only in the large state-owned corporations but, more generally, among the political elite. State contracts, big projects, the plethora of assignments have long been the object of bargaining, a basis for transaction between politics and economic interests which, in turn, gave rise to relationships of interdependence, interrelation, influence and mutual support. Business groups secured economic prosperity, politicians gained political promotion and wealth, while parties rallied resources and funds. The above dogma was the old-state dogma, which served the State and protected the economy, lending oligarchic characteristics to the country’s economic system. It was gradually becoming a privileged domain made up of a limited number of political and economic families, undermining the progress of the country, the economy and society, which were clearly deprived of precious funds in order to preserve the system and hide a series of production shortcomings which plague it. As things began to change and the economy liberalized, the aforementioned dogma started to lag behind, it could not harmonize with the new model of the modern state, which is, itself, incorporated into more integrated entities, such as the European and the global one which function according to different standards. New concepts and new morals were also gradually introduced. Competition, the end of subsidies and economic aide, both direct and indirect, and market deregulation shaped an environment which demanded a change in the administration of state funds. The vast majority of businesses started to question the old dogma, the issue of political and business entanglements was raised, Parliament began to openly discuss political money and the mechanisms which control political power. As long as the European model stays beyond reach, resistance to the old dogma will intensify. And the current pressures are nothing but the pains accompanying the transition from the existing oligarchic structure of the old economic system to a new, more democratic one. Despite pressures from the domestic established interests toward maintaining the «divvying-out» dogma, the conditions under which political power is exercised will change in the medium term, and it is to be wished that the country and its citizens will see a more rational environment and conditions that can ensure equal opportunity for all. The Americans are at war and they have no time for the carping, for example, of those who go on about the treatment of Taleban and Al Qaeda captives. Both sides know that the initial photographs of the captives that were released from Guantanamo (in which the men were manacled, gagged and blindfolded) depicted only a brief period during their arrival in Cuba. One wonders then whether the photographs weren’t released by the Pentagon to show the folks in the American heartland that the enemy had been beaten and humbled – and to hell with what others might think? The problem, though, is that this is an interconnected world, and if America loses the moral high ground once, it will leave its own citizens and soldiers open to worse reprisals somewhere, sometime. Hearing critics in Europe should ring alarm bells about what those whom we cannot hear in the dark corners of angry Third World cities might be saying.