The state and citizens
There might be various ideas on the issue. State or citizens: Who comes first? Do states exist to serve citizens or do citizens need to serve for the prosperity of their states? This is probably a very difficult philosophy problem beyond my capability to provide an answer. But in this country, the state has always been sacrosanct and the citizens, by and large, consider the state either as a their “father” or something to be scared of.
It is difficult to ask the state: “What are you doing? You said you would collect taxes for a period on mobile telephones to prepare the country against quakes. More than 20 years have passed, we are not only still paying that tax, but it was aggravated also.” Lately some people dared to ask what happened to the money promised to be collected at a quake fund and help to finance improving the housing units in the country, particularly Istanbul where a major quake is expected to hit any moment. Such people were condemned as traitors.
The attempted coup was a major trauma. Hundreds of people perished, thousands suffered injuries and the country decided to launch an assistance campaign to provide some financial assistance to the coup veterans. Years passed and that money has not yet been forwarded to the veterans, and the minister responsible for the affair said her ministry was making best use of the money and it would be transferred to the veterans, definitely.
After attacks on the police, people were asked to make donations. Where did the money donated go? To the state’s coffers. Did the former finance minister not say the government used the money to finance those double-roads?
Naturally, the state collects all taxes to its treasury and the treasury spends according to the budget law. Even if a tax is collected specifically for a purpose, unless that or a lower/higher amount is allocated in the budget for that purpose, it cannot be spent. If the state administration considered something more important, the funds collected might be used for some other purposes. Yet, if a certain amount of money is collected with donations of the nation in a fund, the aim the money was collected for and the aim the fund is for used must be the same.
The state is sacrosanct. Most Turks may willingly sacrifice their lives for their state and the nation. Yet, there is a strong resentment as well that the state keeps on demanding donations for some good reasons, but each time spends the money for some other purposes. That is why there have been so many complaints about the state, unlike toward many European and the American governments, rather than allocating funds to offset some of the loses of the small enterprises or compensate for the lost incomes of wage earners, it decided to ask people to make donations.
Naturally, like all other nations, Turkey has to come out of this crisis – and the subsequent economic crisis we would all have to embrace once the pandemic is over – within national solidarity. This is not a time to engage in party politics. The government and the local governments must embrace the entire population without making any discrimination.
Probably, for a change, the administration of the new donation program and the fund to be established must be an accountable non-political authority. Then people will feel comfortable in making their donations that this time the money collected will go to the specified goal.