Uncivil disobedience

As if Greece?s problems were not enough already, the government will soon run into another major obstacle. A number of different sources indicate that a large majority of state sector employees, as well as high-ranking officials, have put down their pens and are refusing to do any actual work.

And that?s not all. Hiding behind Greece?s complex legislation and infamous red tape, they are trying to undermine every supposedly pro-bailout policy. So one, two, or 100 laws may be passed in Parliament, but this makes little difference if the responsible official has decided it will never go through.

?What could these people possibly do anyway?? one might ask. We all realize that the horizontal cuts that have been introduced in the public sector are unfair because they don?t differentiate between civil servants who have worked hard over the years and others who just sit around all day doing nothing, except perhaps create problems for everyone else.

The pressure is great, especially in those departments that have suddenly found themselves with fewer staff and without many of the experienced officials who used to do the bulk of the work. Early retirement, insecurity and other factors have hit a large number of public services hard.

In addition to this, many public employees have naturally gravitated toward SYRIZA or one of the smaller anti-bailout parties. As a result, they like to filter all legal and administrative decisions through their convictions and thus conclude that ?this cannot be done,? or ?this is illegal.? All that makes it extremely difficult for the government to, first of all, fulfill its commitments and, second, to inspire or convince the public sector to reform itself.

Sure, there are many exceptions. Thousands of staff are working hard, seeking ways to improve, or wishing to wean themselves off the system of party and union interests. The government no doubt ought to protect and reward these people. The times call for the public sector to be injected with a dose of experienced staff from the private sector plus a good deal of outsourcing.

That said, no country can be run by a bureaucracy that resists all change and without an elite of decent civil servants who will put the state before party interests.

Greece used to possess such a decent public administration. It can only restore it through hard work. Until this problem is solved, the nation doesn?t stand a chance of getting back on its feet.

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