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Cutting the Corruption Tax in Greece

Aug 2010
Policy Brief
By  Paul Romer
Many of us take it for granted that government officials will obey the law. Here in the United States, news that the police department in New Orleans committed and covered up crimes like rape and murder reminds us that this needn’t be the case. It also reminds us that living with the lawlessness of a weak state might be better than living under a strong state that officials can abuse. Many nations live with a weak government because people fear that a strong government will abuse its power. This fear is particularly acute in a country like Greece, where people can still remember the time in the late 1960s when military officers seized control of the state and brutally suppressed dissent. Unfortunately, the current economic crisis in Greece is too serious for its weak state to manage. In New Orleans, the mayor and community leaders asked the federal Department of Justice to intervene and reform the city’s dysfunctional police department.1 Like the city government in New Orleans, Greece needs to reach out for help.