Greece and the perception of corruption.

There is a line going round in various reports that “Greece is more corrupt now”. That is simply not true and let me explain why:

  • Corruption is measured on ‘perception’.
  • As decades worth of scandals are breaking out one after the other, this inevitably goes up. In a few months we’ve found out that the most powerful media owner in the country hasn’t filed tax returns for a decade and his business is bankrupt, political parties had accumulated hundreds of millions of debt to banks and it goes on to pharmaceutical companies, judges, civil servants and on and on and on. The two party system worked as guarantee for these to be kept under wraps. Now everything is exploding at once.
  • Syriza may be many things but even their adversaries can’t accuse them of embezzling funds etc, let alone the pharaonic sums previous govs did. That money doesn’t even exist anymore.
  • You might ask why I believe that embezzlement thing. It’s simple: even if they wanted to, they don’t know the mechanisms yet. PASOK and New Democracy worked them out over decades, Syriza has neither the mechanism nor the backing of corrupt civil servants to do this. The future will show on this, but for now I simply cannot find something to accuse them of in that sense.
  • Syriza has been accused (and this is correct) of appointing party members here and there, as advisors on committees etc. This is true, but I don’t know of any country where this doesn’t happen. Worse for me is the fact that not all Syriza MPs and officials are exactly transparent as far as their tax arrangements go and some irregularities have been found there, especially with people who were wealthy prior to entering politics.
  • On the ground, low level tax evasion is lower than before (at least tax receipts say so). But tax avoidance is rife and lots of people work off the books. This is more due to sky high levels of taxation and insurance contributions rather than outright corruption. Paying taxes etc and surviving is simply not possible for a lot of people.

These are only a few things from the top of my head. Will write more in the next few weeks, whether I want to or not. Peace out.

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