A mat­ter of life and death

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY NIKOS XYDAKIS

There are two is­sues oc­cu­py­ing the minds of nearly ev­ery Greek in the coun­try to­day: the bar­rage of new taxes to be im­posed as part of the gov­ern­ment’s midterm aus­ter­ity pro­gram, which will mostly hurt the mid­dle and work­ing classes, and the rev­e­la­tion of the gang in­volved in the soc­cer match-fix­ing scan­dal. Both of these is­sues concern the peo­ple in a painful way: On the one hand, the midterm deal with Greece’s in­ter­na­tional len­ders will lead the peo­ple through the pur­ga­tory of a bleak re­al­ity like a her­ald to the hell of bank­ruptcy – a good scald­ing will save us from burn­ing. The match-fix­ing scan­dal, on the other hand, has yanked the pos­si­bil­ity of reach­ing par­adise through gam­bling out of the peo­ple’s grasp, as par­adise is now seen as the con­struc­tion of a bunch of gang­sters who liked to gloat over their win­nings from their VIP seats. All that the stunned masses have left now is the cold com­fort of con­tempt: see­ing soc­cer’s dons in hand­cuffs or shak­ing in their cleats. This kind of es­capism can only be short-lived, how­ever. What good can it do to the peo­ple who re­cently lost their jobs or saw their busi­nesses close down? Nev­er­the­less, the is­sue has in a way con­trib­uted to a re­turn to moral or­der. This is a fact. But wouldn’t it be much more com­fort­ing and ben­e­fi­cial to democ­racy to also see the ar­rest of tax dodgers, which is con­stantly touted and never put into prac­tice? Tax dodgers have con­trib­uted to the de­cline of the coun­try just as much as match fix­ers have, like those who deal in vast amounts of un­reg­is­tered money, like those who have cached their cap­i­tal in tax havens, like those driv­ing 100,000-euro cars and run­ning off­shore com­pa­nies. How many tax dodgers have been found, and how many have been pun­ished? The god­fa­thers of the bet­ting game, known for years from tri­als and con­vic­tions – and known also as the friends of politi­cians and myr­iad celebri­ties – were traced by the Na­tional In­tel­li­gence Ser­vice (EYP) through wire­taps. Track­ing down tax evaders and the barons of the black mar­ket re­quires a lot less tech­nol­ogy than that avail­able to EYP. All it takes is po­lit­i­cal will power and the ap­pli­ca­tion of the law by hon­est and ca­pa­ble pub­lic ser­vants. This act of jus­tice, of very ba­sic equity is a mat­ter of life and death for be­lea­guered Greece and a mat­ter of honor for our democ­racy.

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