Who do you think you are?

d'Lëtzebuerger Land du 26.02.2021

Covid-19 has definitely changed our perspective on the world around us. For almost a year now we have been asked to step back and sit still, while Luxembourg has become trapped in an accelerating spiral that is often too close for comfort. And not just because of the virus.

The recent sour cherry on the cake was OpenLux, the international investigation that targeted multinationals and the ultra-rich but, above all, revealed the opacity of our financial centre and the way it keeps attracting wealth at the expense of other countries. Whatever is not forbidden seems to be allowed! So maybe after Corona this is something our national ethics committee should be having a look at. The journalists also explained that what we have been told again and again, namely that we all profit from the shady deals and elaborate tax evasion schemes, is itself a perfect lie since, ultimately, democracy is being undermined and inequalities are allowed to flourish.

Then, on February 18, Dominique Gros, former mayor of Metz, drew a more than unflattering comparison between Luxembourg and Switzerland in Le Monde with regard to how “frontaliers” and the taxes they pay are dealt with. Suddenly the Swiss are no longer, as Harry Lime put it in The Third Man, the country that produced nothing but the cuckoo clock, but a model of ethical behaviour and fair play, whereas we are depicted as greedy pigs with no nous whatsoever. It seems that our politicians simply keep singing glorious tunes about the Grande Région, while our neighbours across the border are looking on with increasing irritation and resentment.

You might argue that the carefully painted façade started to crumble two months ago with that handful of government ministers going on holiday over New Year, closely following the rulebook of the Grand-Duke and his wife. Once again, whatever is not forbidden seems to be allowed! And, clearly, such patterns of human behaviour are not about to change. Thus, those ministers and the Grand-Duke have recently been topped by the president and the two vice-presidents of the board of the Hôpitaux Robert Schuman. The latter had the Covid jab together with people in tier 1, i.e. with care home residents as well as with health care professionals and staff working in hospitals and care homes. In this context, it is worth remembering that, for the time being, the vulnerable and frail living at home are still made to wait their turn.

I wonder if that gang of three have been hiding behind their designer sofas ever since. Might they not at least have had the decency to apologise? After all, we were meant to be in this together. We were meant to be part of the solution, not the problem. Yet their only move was to send the Schuman foundation’s Squealer (remember the propagandist in Animal Farm?) to explain it all away.

Not surprisingly, it appears that after so many depressing revelations gloom has set in. The various loose strands are coming together and there is no carpet big enough to sweep them under. Far from it. In fact, the next illustration of what Hamlet referred to as “the insolence of office” might be just round the corner via the Superdreckskëscht. A deep irony if ever there was one, but then, yes, dirt will have dirt and you had better brace yourself. A year into the virus, it is by no means all over.

Janine Goedert
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