OPINION

Unworthy of assessment

unworthy-of-assessment

What does lack of assessment imply for a country? Does the absence of any evaluation process impact solely on the state sector, or does it have more far-reaching consequences, affecting civic life in general? Is the concept of evaluation reduced to a system of assessment that improves the performance of state employees and rationalizes the use of staff, or does it concern society at large, by shaping social criteria and individual consciences?

Kathimerini this week published a feature on the country’s much-hyped public sector evaluation scheme titled “The reform that never was.” The report told of bills that were never submitted to Parliament, fruitless consultations between government ministers and union representatives, and strong opposition from government officials, not to mention voters.

Neither politicians nor the people like rules, reviews or comparisons because these represent an obstacle to the dominant patron-client status. Evaluation is frowned upon and this is reflected in the choices of the electorate as well as the language of Greece’s leaders.

In Alexis Tsipras’s televised address on Thursday, in which he announced his resignation as prime minister, opening the path to snap elections, the leftist leader once again turned to the “sovereign people,” saying, “Who can best negotiate debt relief and how? Who can make the certain and steady steps in the direction of the reforms which the country needs and how? You, with your vote, will be the judge of all of us.”

This convenient alliance between two evaluation-free parties is the foundation of the fragile contract between the people and politicians ahead of every election.

Our voting preferences are mainly driven by self-interest. Farmers tend to support those politicians who pledge to make sure they get to keep their tax breaks. Similarly, property owners vote for those who promise that the ENFIA property tax will (once again) be temporary.
In other words, voters are used to not being subject to any process of evaluation whereas political officials deem that the popular vote is, in fact, a process of evaluation.

This delusion was maintained until we went bankrupt.

The crisis did not make us wiser. Instead, we became poorer and more mistrustful. Evaluation is more than a procedure. It is a state of mind which helps us judge, compare and elect not just the politicians who massage our egos, but those who challenge our beliefs as well.