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March 23, 2023

The patrimony of… corruption

The acting minister of Labour recently unveiled a so-called “secret”: there are 8 million beneficiaries of social assistance in Romania, of which at least 2 million are frauds. This means they are not entitled to receive the benefits, which they still get by corruption. And this is not some kind of ordinary corruption; it is an “electoral” one. The local mayor – we are told – proposes recipients the following kind of deal: “You vote for me, and I take care of you!” This made it possible to have in Romania “blind” people that own a car and even drive it themselves. Other recipients own villas, farmland and other sources of income, but they pretend they are very poor, in order to receive the benefit. There are countless cases of this kind.

Equally, there are many opposite situations: people stuck to bed, which do not receive social aid, because “they can verbally communicate with their families and seek help.”

As a consequence, they are deemed by “specialized” inspectors as unfit to receive social benefits. The Labour Minister was asked on TV about these cases, but he blamed it – as well as the other 2 million “mistakes” – on corruption, which was preponderantly perpetrated by the mayors of the opposition.

Such blatant infringements of the law, which situate their country high in a top of corruption, are nothing new for Romanians. So, the recent “revelation” of the Labour Minister unfortunately is a usual reality, which requires the full attention of law enforcement institutions. This, however, should not cast a doubt on the difficult life of most Romanians. The electoral corruption that made its way into the system that grants social benefits must not hide, or minimise the widespread poverty that exists in Romania. Poverty has an endemic character in Romania, same as poor health, school abandonment and discriminating access to culture. The economic and social crisis of Greece is much more serious than in Romania, but the minimum guaranteed income in the Balkan state is 3-4 times higher than in our country. Meanwhile unemployment in Romania is significantly higher than reflected by official figures, at a level similar to Spain. So, what can be done?

The problems encountered in the social benefits system, unemployment, Health and Education, and all the other embattled sectors must be analysed and solved of a complementary manner. Only by reaching a nationwide agreement can we solve Romania’s serious problems today. In contempt of this fundamental truth, our rulers – regardless of their political affiliation – strongly reject the ideas of “complementary,” “organic” and “national.” The chaotic decentralisation adopted in Romania is the very expression of this contempt. By laying too much emphasis on “local” and “individual,” the “whole” and “organic” character is undermined, and the national strategic interest suffers.
A consequence of this false groundwork is the uninominal vote, whose result can be seen in an increase of corruption. A mayor elected in a “uninominal” ballot sees himself as almighty in his locality; even his own party should think twice before reprimanding him, as he might migrate to another party. Enforcing the law – the only move that could restore the order – unfortunately follows this non-democratic evolution, because the uninominal vote diminishes to the maximum the democratic character of elections.

In a biased society, the uninominal vote diminishes to extinction the significance of principles, of doctrine orientations and long-term goals, which should take precedence over the versatile behaviour of the person elected to a leading position by uninominal vote. The corruption that affects the distribution of social benefits proves the discretionary emphasis laid upon fragment and exception, to the detriment of the whole, organic and national character.

The first element of the national patrimony is represented by people – rich or poor, healthy or ill. Given the mimicry of transforming healthy into ill and the other way around, as we encounter in the sphere of social benefits, the first affected is the national patrimony as a whole, with its both human and material components. It is not by chance that, under the pressure of dwindling moral standards, we have witnessed – over the last two decades – criminal thefts and destruction of the historic patrimony. These acts debuted with the foolish decision made at the end of 1989, which opened the borders of the country to the theft and “export” of a large part of the national art patrimony. And this continues even today, when criminals dug the Sarmizegetusa sanctuary by bulldozer, in order to steal inestimable archeological values, and transformed the area into an ignoble parking lot. In a separate incident, precious items have been stolen from the memorial house of poet Mihai Eminescu, in Ipotesti.

The acting Labour minister blamed the corruption of the social benefits system mainly on the mayors of the opposition. But why does the acting Minister of Culture condone the corruption in his field of activity? Why are the Sarmizegetusa sanctuary and the other historic monuments – including the Eminescu memorial house of Ipotesti – deprived of basic protection means? Why does he willfully ignore the fact that UNESCO will admit to its patrimony only the monuments that are in good physical condition?

For any country, the values of its human and material patrimony represent the cornerstone of the process of development and defense against any impediments. Preventing, countering and overcoming all the crises that threaten Romania starts here, granting a responsible and correct treatment to the values of the material and human patrimony.

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