Bad habits die hard

Whatever happens in this country, you can at least be sure of one thing: Political party armies will always be fighting for a place inside the state apparatus.

It?s the same old routine: Party acolytes like to hang around the party offices and rub shoulders with deputies and other officials in a bid to prepare the ground for some future placement.

The supposedly postmodern administration of PASOK?s George Papandreou was no exception. While the former Socialist premier was heralding his much-hyped open government platform, some faceless politicos at the Maximos Mansion were busy placing the most unsuitable of individuals in charge of public hospitals and other state corporations.

Everyone knew that these posts were extremely crucial. Greece?s fiscal derailment was after all to a large extent owed to the health sector?s spendthrift managers. But their profligacy didn?t matter, because the managers were the politicians? own boys.

The damaging habit has not been broken, which shows that with or without the crisis, some things never change in this corner of the world.

Some of these officials may indeed have the qualifications to go after such a post, but who can assess them and judge them without personal or partisan criteria?

I hope that the current prime minister and the political leaders involved in the power-sharing administration will seek to defend the state?s vital functions from such practices. Forgotten party cadres and all sorts of hangers-on are eyeing a post on the board of state sector companies.

Our politicians must realize that the cost of a political bribe, a preferential appointment or simply a wrong placement will eventually be passed onto them.

By handing out favors, politicians may manage to please the party base in the short term, but at the same time they end up putting off a much larger number of voters.

In the end, we will all pay the price because we have repeatedly witnessed what happens when one of our own boys is appointed regardless of his or her qualifications. That?s how we got into this mess in the first place.

Let?s hope that the government of Antonis Samaras will choose to take a different path.

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