This article first appeared on El Mostrador on August 01, 2020.
For years in Chile there have existed the “winners”, those who manage to circumvent the system to obtain benefits, skip a step or evade payments, who then boast about how easy their triumph was. And, at the same time, they have been celebrated by society, given their incredible suspicion.
But there is nothing praiseworthy about being a “winner” and, on the contrary, it represents one of the worst faces of Chileans. In this, the fault is not only of the one who wants to break the rules, but also of the one who allows it.
A clear example is at the supermarket: How many times have you been shopping and the cashier asks you ‘receipt or invoice? In that question alone, you have the option of passing off personal expenses as business expenses, which is obviously irregular. And there are many examples that characterize a “winner”: such as skipping the line, passing through the berm in the middle of a traffic jam, accessing a charge for pituto or borrowing a password to access a particular service.
The latest National Transparency Study (2018) on citizens’ perception of corruption – conducted by the Council for Transparency (CPLT) – uniquely investigated the levels of tolerance to “winner” attitudes, revealing the broad rejection (83%) at the national level to these behaviors. However, the survey also indicates that rejection of these attitudes increases if they are perceived to directly affect the respondent, versus if they harm a third party.
The examples are endless and are the order of the day, even more so in this period of emergency, where loopholes abound to circumvent the rules. We have already seen it with the companies that have changed their line of business to continue operating in a pandemic and disguise themselves as essential, which even caused an amendment to the Criminal Code, incorporating an article to the Law on Criminal Liability of Legal Entities, which punishes employers who force their workers to perform on-site work in the midst of quarantines.
It is incredible that in the midst of the worst health crisis in recent times, a law has to be passed so that some people stop being “winners” and violate the system. In fact, many of these companies that changed their line of business would continue to operate as if nothing had happened, if it were not for anonymous complaints.
In this regard, it is worth mentioning some unusual cases such as the workers who were found inside a gymnasium of the Pacific chain in Providencia, after the company used the construction and real estate line of business to obtain the Single Collective Permit or the use of collective permits under the category of security used by several companies.
Companies should set an example, because part of the social crisis that the country has experienced is linked to the loss of trust in public and private institutions.
People’s tolerance has been exceeded and, for this reason, it is so important how we do things to achieve our goals. In this, the entrepreneurial role must play a leading role, since not incurring in these acts is as important as condemning them.
Since we were children we were taught to “stay out of our own business”, but in the case of “winners” companies we should care, because unfortunately a company that “goes too far” stains the whole sector and I assure you that, if there was social punishment, we would have much less “winners” going around.
The one who skips institutional steps, no matter how bureaucratic they may seem, is not a bigger crook or a bigger crook. On the contrary, doing so is an act of corruption that, in the long run, will affect us all. Today, the world demands from us more tidiness and ethics to generate greater equality and justice and, therefore, the culture of the “winner” must be eradicated among all of us, promoting doing the right thing and not the easiest.
By: Susana Sierra