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The Siemens Connection
by Thanos Kalamidas
2008-02-06 09:41:17
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Reading the financial news for the last few years I get the strong feeling that fraud and scandals have become the most common issue between big companies and I suppose that’s another sign of globalization. Coming to globalization, putting aside the theoretical prospects, apart from the gap between rich and poor widening and a series of scandals with the poor and the employees of those companies as victims I haven’t seen anything else.

The involvement of political scandals with private capital is not something new and it started a long time ago in the Athenian democracy when, to become the first of the first, you needed to have the necessary finance to support – sometimes even buy – the necessary votes and in Roman times the involvement of the money became more obvious. Nowadays you only have to check the funds behind the candidates to understand this involvement. The amount of money used by the candidates in the US elections is mythical and enough to feed some countries for months.

Apart from that, over the last few years we have watched a new phenomenon among politicians, young men and women, who never worked in their life after they became involved with politics, have become richer than they ever dreamt of and it is like there is an international conspiracy to cover this reality. The latest economic scandal that starts from Germany but expands to the whole continent, with some in the USA, is the perfect example of this odd relationship and it includes the company Siemens and a few European governments.

The story with Siemens has gone on for more than a year and according to a key witness there has been a number of secret accounts in Switzerland and Austria with one and only aim, to pay bribes and the amount goes up to 200 million euros. These funds have been moved to those accounts before and around 2004 and what was the event party for all the big private companies that period? Athens Olympics! The investigators have found a sum of 100 million euros was linked to Dubai through Caribbean shell companies and from there to a high executive of Siemens in Greece.

According to allegations, this executive used the money to make sure that Siemens was awarded lucrative contacts in conjunction with the Athens’ Olympics. The word ‘in conjunction’ is right since it was not only the stadiums and the Olympic buildings but it was a whole country undergoing remodelling through that period, a communication system made in the mid-fifties needed remodelling and modernized and in some cases rebuilt with Siemens handling the job and getting billions of euros. If the amount of 100 million is right then be sure that it was included in the final …invoice the Greek public had to pay!

What a scandal like this will mean for the Greek government or better all the Greek governments since 2004, both socialists and conservatives were governing at this time period, will be devastating and that’s why I don’t believe that whatever investigation will happen whatever depth it will reach will ever find a member of any of the governments guilty. Worst case scenario: a low official and a high member of the Greek Siemens administration will come out and serve a couple of years in prison but the trust to the politicians will have been wounded once more. You see what I just wrote is exactly what most of the people thinking.

I brought the example of the Greek involvement with Siemens’s million but is not the only one, as I mentioned before the Greek government is not the only one involved and it seems that the tentacle of corruption has reached more countries from Greece to USA and what happened in the Athens’ Olympic is just the top of the iceberg and lets see in the next few months how many European governments will feel the ripples of the scandal.

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Emanuel Paparella2008-02-06 11:59:15

Santayana was right. Those who ignore their history are condemned to repeat it. In ancient Rome, the beginning of the end can be identified at the point when people began discussing virtues and vices. Nietzsche makes a similar point in his Genealogy of Morals. Those who possess virtue do not talk about it. To philosophize about virtue is already a sign that it is slipping away. Enter Machiavelli to reduce Plato’s Republic to a chess game of power grabbing and retention. Inevitably Nietzsche’s “will to power” will replace Aristotle’s “will to truth.” The cycles repeat themselves and the gods return. If the return is eternal the competing sign to the cross which ultimately saved what was salvageable of the Roman Empire will become the crooked cross of the swastika wholly immanent and closed within itself. What may be arriving may make the Holocaust look like a picnic. What did Yeats say about the beast “slouching toward Gomorrah”?

Emanuel Paparella2008-02-06 12:04:36
P.S. Actually it slouches toward Bethlehem to be born.

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