Friday, January 11, 2013

Teutonic shift

If anyone doubts that the world is going to the dogs, they must cast another look at Germany. Since the eurozone crisis broke out a few years back, the intransigence of the German government has often been explained by a cultural peculiarity – Germans would never ever cross a red line, even at the cost of much personal or collective misery. In Germany itself, the problems of Greece and the troubled Mediterranean flank of the EU have similarly been attributed to a proclivity to cheat and evade sacrosanct rules. As it turns out, though, the word “verboten” seems to have lost much of its traditional punch in Germany itself – or at least its medical establishment.

A criminal investigation into transplant centers has revealed that senior medical personnel has allowed scores of patients to jump the line and receive priority access to donated organs in exchange for bribes. These corrupt transactions have depriving others in Germany and other European countries of the organs they might have needed more urgently. Which raises a troubling question: if “the Germans” can no longer be counted upon to stick to rules intended to institutionalize fairness in such a sensitive area, who can?