Monday, May 24, 2010

Corruption? That's a Greek problem. Would never happen here.

Following Greece's descent into economic crisis much was made of the fact that corruption is part and parcel of Greek public life. Many newspapers abroad woke up to the fact that much of the country's ruling political class is both venial and corrupt and that irrespective of what ideological colours they profess to wear bribe money speaks louder than either Adam Smith or Karl Marx when it comes to how they wield power.

It was the perceived endemic corruption of both PASOK and New Democracy that lead to their previous electoral defeats in the last three general elections. The widely held idea that politicians are untrustworthy and easily bought was one of the main factors behind the massive protests that have taken plac recently in Athens and other Greek cities. When hundreds of thousands of citizens chant, "thieves thieves" outside parliament then even the most hardend advocate of the present system has to admit that public trust in the current political system is at an all time low.

It would be very easy to see the problems as a purely Greek one, the result of local pathologies and which do not apply further afield. However, today a story broke which shows that corruption and influence peddling are just as easily practiced by those abroad as those inside.

The British tabloid The News of the World has broken a story which could have been written especially for Greece, yet this time the person invoved has a far more aristocratic pedigree than any politician here. The news that Sarh Ferguson, the ex-wide of Prince Andrew, son of Queen Elizabeth II had been filmed eliciting money in return for ensuring access to her former husband shows that money still talks whoever you are. The newspaper set up a sting operation in which Ferguson was filmed pocketing $40,0000 in cash from a reporter posing as a foreign businesman, part of a half a million dollar deal that would supposedly allow him access to the prince.

Of course I'm sure there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for taking the money after all, this is England and not some backward Balkan state. Ferguson is royalty and not some grubby politician who demands wads of cash in return for commercial favours. Not the same at all, is it?

1 comment:

konstantinos said...

It seems that corruption is in human nature, a feature of our character that we must try very hard to overcome;if we care at all to do so...