Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Government bribes its way out of responsibility

Fires are still burning in parts of Greece, but thankfully the government has a plan to stop the fires, its called the Ionian sea. The fires have made their way across the Peloponnese and now only the coast is in its way.

A while ago i mentioned that the New Democracy party is not about fiscal responsibility. Well last week we saw it again in action. The ruling party implemented a financial bail out of those affected by the fires. 3000 euros for those who lost their house, x amount for livestock etc. All well and good but so they can wash their hands of the guilt of not dealing with the fires, no proof was requested when handing out the money. After one day, 24 million euros were handed out, by day two 72 million euros was handed out. By then many local residents were heard complaining because they were seeing non locals receiving money. Since no proof was requested people had come down from all over Greece to receive the money. False Identity cards were being sold for 500 euros and for those who were illiterate, they could purchase the services of someone to write out their application for 250 euros.
New democracy politicians had also set up their own booths and were handing out the money, cementing in the mind of the locals that ND hands out money for nothing.

Of course they could have followed the lead of Germany and allowed the local councils to distrubute the aid, as was done when Germany suffered from the flooding. But they didnt because of two reasons.

  1. They wanted to be associated as the guys who hand out money (like a doting grandmother who hands out cash to her grandchildren).
  2. And they are against the local councils because it was implemented by the PASOK government, and everything they did cant be allowed to succeed.
And that in a nutshell is what the government and party is about. We are the ones who can give you money. Sure its corrupt and many people are benefiting illegally. But its by implicating as many people in this corrupt system that they hope to win, if everyones hands are dirty and is able to benefit somehow, its in their interests to keep these guys in power.
Unfortunately the EU is giving financial aid to Greece, i say unfortunately because without fiscal responsibility this money will be wasted. Maybe tough love would be better, let Greece struggle through this so it can learn from its mistakes. Maybe that way these mistakes won't be repeated.

2 comments:

Andrew Livanis said...

I think that you are correct in invoking the German example as model for the appropriate distribution of funds. It is unfortunate that the Greeks are not emulating the Germans.

It appears that ND will take a page out of the rulebook of the Republican Party here in the US; namely, it appears that their rhetoric screams of recalling the horrors of the fires, sending kudos to the Greek nation for uniting in the face of the crisis, and reminding us all that ND helped out when the cards were down. As the Republicans were helped by every human interest story of 9/11 widows, so ND can be helped by the Kathimerini article detailing the hopelessness that the high school children in the area are feeling.

Interestingly, PASOK will take a page out of the Democratic Party in the US. That is to say, they will jump up and down while they whine about how wrong and bad Karamanlis is.

And, nothing will happen

The sad part about the whole process is that there will be no plans for the prevention of forest fires and other natural disasters ( http://undertheolivetree.blogspot.com/2007/09/hope-for-un-sexy-solutions-after-ashes.html ). For instance, there is some (but not enough) talk about plans for what will happen when the fall and winter rains come (Does anyone in the dry eastern part of Greece realize that it rains almost continuously in the western half of Greece from September to March? - where will that water go and what will it do without the tree and shrub roots to hold it in place?)

The Economist printed an article a few issues ago detailing steps it has taken in Idaho and Montana to lessen the effects of environmental and ecological damage from forest fires. Can something like that be done in Greece? I don't know, but there are probably hundreds of people in universities dying for the opportunity to try something out...

While the individuals need to be compensated in a just and due manner, the area needs to be dealt with IMMEDIATELY or, Greece will need to deal with an issue that it most likely has never faced...flooding.

Maybe then, they might look to Germany for a model....

Vassili said...

Well it is a good thing that rains are predicted and its election time, in my neighbourhood their is suddenly frantic construction of storm water drains in preperation for the floods.
One sad thing is that many greeks that i talk to at the Bus stop and on the streets all say 'We Greeks have this illness, we wait for the tragedy to happen and then we prepare preventative measures"
And you are right, their are many people with the knowledge here, but there needs to be a willingness to USE that knowledge, and apparently these Public work programmes are just seen as a way of garnering political patronage instead of DOING something