OPINION

Cost of corruption

Over the past few days, many have expressed their supposed concern over the stock market and the cost to the economy of the revelations and the charges brought against business mogul Socrates Kokkalis and, in this way, have tried to overlook the burden of the vested interests he has nourished over the last 20 years. None of those concerned, however, has tried to assess the long-term cost that this political and business entanglement has already accumulated. These things, however, are concrete and visible to the naked eye. The result of entanglement can be seen by the public on a daily basis. The cost is high: The dangerous roads and unused materials rusting in the storerooms of state-run corporations are all a result of this entanglement, to which many turn a blind eye. And so are the useless weapons piling up in the armories of the army, putting a heavy financial strain on Greek citizens. Business and political entanglements have given rise to the poor computer systems in tax offices which bedevil thousands of citizens every day. This obscure network that has promoted an illusionary growth in the economy is responsible for the 1999 stock market crisis, for the losses and the improper use of European Union funds, as well as for the numerous investments which have blocked the country’s growth. It is this entire system which has shaped an atmosphere of overall counter productivity, and is responsible for the poor state of Olympic Airways, the social security issue deadlock, the degeneration of public administration and fiscal shortages. It is this same system which is responsible for our lagging competitiveness and the country’s stagnation. It is this system that threatens to turn convergence with the EU from a great success into an illusion. And what have we inherited from this network? A misleading gambling scandal and newly rich socialites who go shopping in the expensive shops in Kifissia and Kolonaki, underscoring, in a most provocative fashion, the reality of an unacceptably unfair distribution of wealth which took root during the years of Socialist rule. Unfortunately, this is the true picture of our entangled economy which some are at pains to defend. A country with huge inequalities, a divided country, with the northern suburbanites leading lavish lives and those, below the river, living in poverty. This situation can no longer be tolerated; and those who fail to realize this are either accomplices or fools.