Crazy, capable and clean

Crazy, capable and clean

Greece has reached the point of needing people who are crazy enough to hold down crucial public administration posts but clean enough to do the job properly if we are ever to become a “normal” country. When we talk about being crazy, we don’t mean people who spend their days hobnobbing with wheeler-dealers taking care of their own interests, but dedicated individuals who are on the job 24/7. They won’t care if they get flack on some website or rub certain unionists the wrong way. They will create teams of younger police officers, zoning officials and inspectors that they can inspire with pride for the job and jump into the fray.

These individuals also need to be clean because there’s a lot of money at stake and temptation runs high. There’s always someone asking for a “subsidy” of some kind, a gift or a favor for a family member. Everyone is afraid – and rightly so – of becoming the target of a character assassination campaign or even actual physical violence. You need to be superhuman, even, perhaps a bit cocky to take on the kind of missions Greece needs right now. But you also need to be above reproach.

Does the vital core of the Greek state mechanism have such crazy, capable and clean individuals? Of course it does, which is how this chaotic state continues to survive and function. We saw them at work at the Evros border in 2020 and in the case of the archaeologist who was attacked for shedding light on serious zoning violations on Mykonos. These are people who are underpaid, yet love their jobs and have a strong sense of duty. At great personal cost, they refuse to fall into the usual two categories: the slackers who couldn’t care less and the wheeler-dealers who have made a career of trading favors, feathering their nests and cozying up to politicians. The problem with finding good people is that it takes a certain amount of guts to choose them over candidates who are entrenched in the system and also to let them get on with their jobs. This means making them secure in the knowledge that their phone won’t ring with demands to turn a blind eye to a certain crony’s shenanigans or to let some other matter go.

Our politicians, unfortunately, prefer people who are malleable to those who are determined, so they end up appointing people who need a map to find Omonia or Syntagma to top jobs in the police. They prefer the pushovers because they have constructed a system that is intransparent and chaotic, where every decision and action ultimately relies on the politicians’ say-so. But when crisis strikes, they discover that the pushovers are great until they fail, together with the entire system, to the politicians’ detriment. 

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