What ordinary Greeks do

Former Employment and Social Security Minister Vassilis Magginas, who has just resigned, resorted to the argument that he had only done what »the average Greek» does, an argument that was echoed cynically by his friends in Parliament and the media. In rushing to defend Magginas, they all resorted to the time-worn excuse that «ordinary Greeks» do the same thing. In their benevolent view, everyone, with the exception of hermits and martyrs, lives in the real world, has real needs and ambitions carved out of hard matter, not out of idealism or other such phantoms, and they all «do the same thing.» Therefore, they contend, it is unreasonable and unjust to stand in judgment of the former minister. As disappointing as it sounds, the fact is that politics and ethics do not go hand in hand. The argument regarding «ordinary Greeks,» however, does not hold, whether one looks at it from the moral viewpoint or from the political-practical aspect. What else, apart from the fact that it suits us, is there is to convince us that «ordinary Greeks» (praised during election campaigns for their judgment and patriotism) are cunning and underhanded beings? Are our politicians using excuses that can be summed up by the idea that politicians are a reflection of their society, forgetting in the process that they are supposed to be setting an example? Even if the «average Greek» did want to use influence to get his child a job without having to go to the trouble of sitting an aptitude test, or to employ workers without paying their social security contributions, or build a holiday house in a forest area and call it a snack bar, imagine how much it would cost him in bribes. As Anacharsis of Scythia said, laws are like spiders’ webs; they catch small flies, but allow wasps and hornets to escape.