OPINION

Wiping out low-level graft

There must be a way forward. Just when we though we had hit rock-bottom, we see that the bottom is even further down. Constant whining is certainly not going to lead anywhere. The fact is that in Greece we are accustomed to making a big song and dance about every big issue. We think that statements and aphorisms will banish the evil of corruption, while what we are actually doing is convincing the average citizen that nothing is ever going to change. The issue of corruption is vital, crucial for Greece. It is what makes us look like a small developing nation rather than a developed European one. So, how do we solve it? The first kind of corruption, which can be dealt with the easiest, is that which arises from ridiculous state mechanisms and structures. If the government decided to simplify legal procedures on matters such as, for example, the designation of archaeological areas, its would dramatically decrease the low-level anonymous corruption that plagues us all. More succinct building laws would close a major wound. Clearly defined forestland would free a lot of hostages. We may have strict laws on paper, but in practice we have a very corrupt country. The only ones who would lose out in such a sweeping change would be those who, in the name of protecting our archaeological legacy, the forests or zoning order, are filling their pockets or enjoying wielding their power over their citizens/victims. If the laws are simplified, all those lawyers/blackmailers, and those who serve them, will be out of work. We have to understand that overly impressive solutions usually bring about the opposite result. Now, you may say, «Is that all corruption is about?» Of course not. But I know that this low-level, anonymous graft is like a termite eating away at our foundations every day, opening new holes for greater things to enter, things from which we may never recover.