OPINION

What a twisted morality

The settlement of outstanding taxes, as it is being conducted by the government in such a rushed and worried manner, is the subject of much criticism, and rightly so. The objective is to get some much-needed cash fast in exchange for letting tax dodgers off the hook. Those who have paid their taxes as well as those who have not, those who are honest and those who are thieves, all will wind up paying the same amount and end up with the same clean slate. Even those who have issued fake invoices will benefit from the tax debt amnesty. Tax fraud will be penalized a few thousand euros and will then appear as if it never happened at all. The amnesty basically boils down to the fact that no distinctions will be made between those who have performed their duty and those who have not. Instead of showing regard for legality and the rule of law, the state is rewarding lawlessness. This reversal delivers a serious blow to the credibility of the state as a mechanism whose role is to ensure the rule of law and equality among citizens. The issue goes even deeper because what the amnesty tells us is that the state, finding itself at risk of bankruptcy, not only is failing to push through reforms and deal with corruption and tax evasion, but is admitting its complete inability to keep in check those who are supposed to be keeping everyone else in check. It is telling us that it cannot compel its employees to find tax dodgers and make them pay their dues. It is confessing that it cannot crack down on corruption. Basically, the government is telling us that it cannot govern. Yet, it is this government that has taken on the task of applying Draconian austerity measures and reforms the magnitude of which the country has not experienced since the end of World War II. Sure, austerity measures are being introduced but they have sunk the country into a recession. And what about the reforms? Where are they? Where is the just and effective tax-collection mechanism? Where is the restructuring of the state? What is being done to combat illegal business activities and black markets? Is the government applying the same base morality to these areas as it is to tax dodgers? Is it allowing crooked state officials to get off the hook and rewarding the thieves? The disappointment of those who have lived their lives by the book is growing, and soon will be terrible to behold.