All in the name of the game

The annual family photo showing the 300 members of Parliament beaming as they hold up their source of income statements («pothen esches»), was shot from a different angle this year. Not because there were any significant differences in the declarations from previous years, but because persistent rumors and allegations about politicians and links to dirty money have heavily tarnished the credibility of the political body as a whole. But were we to take a closer look at this snapshot, what we would see is savings accounts, real estate and other assets that are way beyond the level of the average well-off citizen. How this wealth was accrued is not told by the photograph. Small arrows in different colors were used in the publication to explain the exceptions: a handful of MPs who have always had money and another smattering of those who never have and still don’t. Most of the rest seem to have either changed teams under very lucrative terms or made some quite significant financial investments. This rather shady and ineffective (because of the way it is carried out) means of monitoring what public figures make and how much they are worth throws less, rather than more, light on the entire issue, not to mention the questionable ethics of the entire process. The only question, after all, that needs answering is: Why are our politicians so unmoved by and so deaf to the people’s despair, rampant corruption and the erosion of the social fabric? Why do they close their eyes to it? Why are measures to modernize and democratize the country’s financial, administrative and educational sectors, to cleanse politics and make it more transparent, always put off for another day? As long as the sources of our politicians’ wealth remain in the dark, as long as the provenance of their money cannot be established, the annual statement is nothing more than a game of Monopoly, where we don’t question where the players’ money came from but just accept that it is necessary for the game to be played.