Corruption is in our brain

Corruption is in our brain

Yesterday, I was talking to a Ukrainian public figure who is dealing with the issues of the fight against corruption.  They spoke about the fact that the law on illegal enrichment cannot have a retrospective power, and the officials who “ate” for 25 years have already millions of dollars, they, let’s say from January 1 next year may not steal and enjoy already  stolen.  My interlocutor countered to it that the man who has plundered for 25 years will not be able to stop from January 1.  He will continue to aspire to new wealth, new pleasures and enjoyments.  Even if he decides by some miracle, however, not to steal then anyway new-and-new millions will be needed to service their own yacht, the car worth of 200 thousand and the 4-storey house.

Hence, according to my interlocutor, there is no need for the retrospective power of the law: the corrupt official will not change his behavior, and if desired, it is possible to make him face the court.

Here, it seems that there is no place to argue.  Another thesis seems to me disputable in the case of Armenia.  My interlocutor is sure that if a corruption scandal arises on this-or-that official, then regardless of its outcome, it will cause such a harm to his reputation that this person will no longer be able to work in his office and will not be able to be elected as a lawmaker.  First, it is possible in the country where the public opinion has a significant impact on being or not being a deputy or a minister.  Armenia is not among those countries.  But this is not the most terrible thing.  There is much worse thing, the public opinion may be on the side of the illegally enriched person, “yes, he is stealing, yes, he does not pay taxes but he cares about people, is standing next to the people, is a philanthropist, a patriot, has built 5 churches, consequently, he is also a God-fearing.”  In other words, corruption may also not hinder the “popular admiration.”  Well, when stealing official is perceived in the public in the same way as let’s say the pedophile is perceived then here the official will think over ten times before stealing.

… Immediately, I pictured the regional meetings of the Prime Minister which at first glance has nothing to do with the above-mentioned narration.  Karen Karapetyan is talking about investments, innovations, and creative approaches.  The village mayors are sitting with unsociable looks, are not able to answer the most elementary questions and are thinking, “I wonder whether I can grip some money so that I will also live better and will take care of my village people better.”  They have still remained in the status of a collective farm which grips “funds” from the secretary of the regional committee.

I think that the “old-fashioned” mentality underlies the bases of corruption as well as many other negative phenomena.

Aram ABRAHAMYAN

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