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Showing posts from April, 2010

The culture of national traits

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Tragic Flaw: Graft Feeds Greek Crisis

Wall Street Journal April 15, 2010
By MARCUS WALKERATHENS—Behind the budget crisis roiling Greece lies a riddle: Why does the state spend so lavishly but collect taxes so poorly? Many Greeks say the answer needs only two words: fakelaki and rousfeti. Fakelaki is the Greek for "little envelopes," the bribes that affect everyone from hospital patients to fishmongers. Rousfeti means expensive political favors, which pervade everything from hiring teachers to property deals with Greek Orthodox monks. Together, these traditions of corruption and cronyism have produced a state that is both bloated and malnourished, and a crisis of confidence that is shaking all of Europe. A study to be published in coming weeks by the Washington-based Brookings Institution finds that bribery, patronage and other public corruption are major contributors to the country's ballooning debt, depriving the Greek state each year of the equivalent of at least 8% of its …