Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The corruption problem

A few weeks back, my wife took our youngest girl to the kindergarten she goes to. As she was walking home, she saw a woman she recognized as being from our building. She fell in with her and struck up a conversation. Since my wife had just left off our daughter, she naturally asked this woman what kindergarten her daughter went to. The woman named one that we had tried to get into, a kindergarten that had some reputation in the area. The reason we could not get in is because the director told us there were no places. We ended up taking her to another school a little further away.

So my wife was interested in knowing how this woman got her daughter into that kindergarten. My wife said to her, “They told us there weren’t any places.” The woman responded, “Of course there weren’t any places. When I went to talk to the director, I took $200. $100 I put in my pocket. The other $100, I took in hand. I then told her I wanted my daughter to go to that kindergarten and handed her $100. All it took was the $100. I didn’t need any more.” My wife said that the woman spoke with the air of someone who had made the best deal of her life.

The problem is that all the kindergartens are government schools and it is illegal for the directors of these schools to take bribes. It was that way before Yuschenko came to power and it is still that way.

Makes me wonder who she voted for. Yuschenko campaigned on eliminating corruption. That she might have voted for Yuschenko she would not see as inconsistent. She was looking out for her own interests and that was that. But the problem is that corruption here is not limited to the oligarchs nor to Kuchma nor is it limited to those in power. Everyone has been involved in it to some extent. That was and still is how people got and get by.

During the election, Yuschenko said that corruption was eating away at the Ukrainian soul. That is an all encompassing statement not limited to Kuchma and to the oligarchs. And he was right.

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You are absolutely right on regarding corruption. I was reading about Finland - considered the least corrupt country in the world - and "The indication from Transparency International's research is that in smallish, well ordered countries, such as Finland, corruption among officials and politicians is less likely to flourish than in poor or transitional nations."
The Finns have even identified the reasons for honesty
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