You can read the previous post in this multi-post commentary here.
Our world seeks change. And it is ours to drive that change – a change that leaves the world a better place than the world which we received into our servant hands. Change, however, must begin with our refusal to be complicit in wrong-doing.
And that’s no easy thing to do.
In the case of Realitatea-Catavencu v. The Romanian People, the complicity of Romanian journalists and media agencies in downplaying the investigation of fraud and tax evasion is nothing less than a betrayal of the people’s trust in main stream and new media.
The irony is not lost on me when journalists who decry the failure of the Romanian government are complicit in corporate schemes of tax evasion that disable the Romanian economy.
This is not unique to Romania; it happens everywhere for one reason or another.
As Jeff Jarvis, Director of the interactive journalism program at City University of New York, has noted on Twitter and elsewhere, main stream and new media (a la AOL) increasingly conspire with governments, corporations and powerful interest groups. For profit, obviously. Despite the messiness of citizen journalism, Jarvis believes that the truth is out there.
The list of the complicitous, unfortunately, goes beyond the mainstream and new media. In the case of Realitatea-Catavencu v. The Romanian People, it begins with legislators and tax code authors who came up with a way for businesses to game the system.
It doesn’t matter how much cash they got under the table; what matters is that they were willing to sell out the common good for their individual advantage. It doesn’t even matter that the legislators and tax code authors failed to realize their misdoings undermine the Romanian government’s capacity to fund basic services. The problem is that they are not committed to what business consultant and co-author of In Search of Excellence Tom Peters describes as excellence.
Excellence, as Peters often described, is all about service. Excellence is not about self-serving.
Beyond journalists and legislators challenged by a conflict of personal and public interests, the reach of complicity extends to the halls of justice. In the case of Realitatea-Catavencu v. The Romanian People, the proceedings at the Romanian Anti-Corruption Court reveal profound disinterest in both the crime and the prosecution of the crime.
Romanian anti-corruption investigators avoided pursuing hard evidence and clear answers. The interviews with former and current employees were brief. There were no requests for banking transactions regarding the salaries or other payments, no questions about what percentage the intellectual compensation accounted for the “salary”, and no interest in whether or not the employees understood they were conspirators in the fraud.
Ergo, the Romanian anti-corruption court is itself complicitous. But we need not give up all hope as the sign says at the entrance of Dante’s inferno.
The broad and long reach of complicity recommends to us that we, the people, must hold the institutions of democracy to higher ethical standards. The Press, Legislators and the Judiciary must also be subject to investigation, supervision, judgment by peers, and, yes, disciplinary action for the failure to execute their duties according to the public trust.
24 February 2011
About Stan Faryna
Mr. Faryna is the founder and co-founder of several technology, design and communication companies in the United States and Europe including Faryna & Associates, Inc., Halo Interactive, and others.
Stan Faryna served as a Global Voices author and translator. Global Voices is a non-profit global citizens’ media project founded at Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, a research think-tank focused on the Internet’s impact on society.
His political, scholarly, social and technical opinions have appeared in The Chicago Defender, Jurnalul National, The Washington Times, Sagar, Saptamana Financiara, Social Justice Review, and other publications.
Mr. Faryna also served as editor-in-chief of Black and Right (Praeger Press, 1996), a landmark collection of socio-political essays by important American thinkers including U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
Copyright 1996 to 2012 by Stan Faryna.
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