It’s not brain surgery

The people of this country need to see their politicians start producing real, tangible results. One of the leading factors behind the anger and frustration felt by so many Greeks toward the political system and the civil service is that they pay so much in taxes yet feel that they are not provided with even a minimum of the services and benefits that they have a right to expect.

Just imagine how differently people would feel about the public sector and the political system if they were to walk into a hospital and see that is properly staffed, well run, organized and clean. Or if they knew that their children were at public universities that were not filthy, badly managed and in the grip of student groups affiliated to political parties.

The only part of the civil service that seems to be working today is the police force.

The fact is that most Greek politicians make very lousy managers and they also tend to pick the absolutely worst people for key administrative posts. What they need is training and a new mind-set that will help them envision projects and bring them to fruition. Nothing would make a bigger difference than a few pilot projects that would illustrate that things are changing in this country. The prime minister’s office, for example, could pick out two or three hospitals to overhaul and to present and models on which other overhauls will be based. Foundations and the private sector could also contribute to such efforts. I am certain that with some decent management and a bit of ingenuity, we would start to feel the difference in no time at all.

That said, given the usual obstacles that always seem to crop up in this country, the only way this could work would be for political parties to put their partisan interests and personal animosities aside.

By the same logic, it would be a real achievement if the coalition government succeeded in rebuilding the state broadcaster as one that was not governed by party interests and was staffed by capable people. This is a perfect opportunity for our politicians to prove that beyond imposing cutbacks and handing out favors, they are also capable of building new institutions based on meritocracy and rationality.

It’s not rocket science. After all, Greece has an abundance of smart, talented people with the skills to help rebuild the shattered public sector.

All the politicians have to do is realize that their job is not about granting favors to their cronies or protecting the privileges of those cronies who already have it made.