OPINION

Offspring of improvidence

Here is one view of how to govern: Chart the places at high risk for flooding (250 in the capital, according to a count by the Athens Prefecture), map the pileups on national roads, and, during the summer fire season, note the high-risk zones that lie next to legal garbage dumps – or illegal dumping sites. And then, satisfied with this predictive work and exhausted with so much mental labor, we wait to see if there really will be floods where the map is marked red, whether the pileups will do their deadly work, and so forth. Mapping, of course, is a responsibility of the state (in all its forms). But its obligation does not stop there, unless we accept that ministries, governmental bodies and local authorities are entitled to behave like a breakfast TV program sounding off about «problems,» and giving vent to narcissistic, populist rage. The state’s work is not simply to predict but also, especially, to prevent, to reduce the number of high-risk areas, to lower their number from 250, to 200, to 100, and even to eliminate them altogether. It seems that we are quite unjustified in taking pride in our descent from the Titan Prometheus (the provident one). In reality, the only area where one can see any providing being done is in the purchase of military hardware, or at any rate, where the state deals with businessmen, Greek or foreign. Everywhere else, improvidence is the rule; everywhere else, thought runs to catch up with deed or the evils we will incur in the shape of a wholly predictable flood or equally predictable vehicle accident. We map the danger points and then, like explorers who get their hands on an old map only to become confused rather than enlightened, we fatalistically wait for our forecasts to come true when we should be trying to ensure they are never realized. We remain permanently the descendants of Epithemeus, the improvident.