OPINION

Creative math

Greece’s notorious exclusiveness, so often utilized as a catch-all interpretative formula, apparently also applies to maths. In particular, the maths applied on Greece’s public works seem to obey the rules of extreme relativism, as they disregard even the supposedly inelastic multiplication table. Euclid was a Greek, but that does not mean his descendants have to follow axioms that bind their imagination. After the trailblazing so-called mathematical formula which was to be used in the assignment of costly public works to disguise favoritism as objectivity, we are now told that according to «contractor maths» we may have the same dividend and the same divisor but still get a different quotient, depending on whether the division is made in Athens, Turin or Madrid. In Turin, for example, if we divide 600 (million euros) by 9.6 (kilometers of metro line) we shall find that each kilometer costs 62.5 million euros. However, the same division in Athens produces more than double that figure, as in Greece (more specifically, in the extension from Monastiraki to Aegaleo), 4.3 kilometers cost 700 million euros, making 162.5 million for every kilometer. One would assume that the extra 100 million euros per kilometer is the result of geography or generosity (of which there is never a shortage when it comes to public money). The truth is that in contractor maths there is a partisan coefficient, a parameter also known as «political will» which makes budgets skyrocket immediately after their approval. Because of a wide range of reasons, whether genuine or fabricated (urgency, antiquities, shaky ground) and because of all sorts of imaginative practices and bureaucratic obstacles we always seem to move from one budget overrun to the next. Needless to say, it’s always for the good of the country and its people.