The hour of truth

The hour of truth has arrived. The Socialist myth has finally collapsed, as predicted in this column on the first day of the new year. PASOK’s proud boasting about Greece’s «strong economy» have been discredited. The self-congratulations of the Socialist government have ceased. The end of the Olympic Games ripped away the glamorous facade to reveal the painful truth: we must wake up now or else the country is going to spiral into further decline. It’s all around us: a dysfunctional public administration being held ransom by corruption and the burden of patron-clientele relations, unable to offer incentives to industrious workers; an education system that has been brought to its knees because of the excessive number of students, professors, schools and departments. There is a lot of talk about the «democratic privilege» in education, but little attention is paid to the level of student talent, or the quality of graduates and their prospects. The judicial sector is undermined by delays and poor quality and there is no shortage of perjurers in our courts. And let’s not forget our weak fiscal situation and distorted incomes policy. On the other side, meanwhile, we have social groups demanding privileges that they don’t deserve, such as the cotton producers who, instead of using their long-term subsidies to diversify, exploit the weight of their votes – and their tractors – in a misguided attempt to preserve a state of affairs which is no longer sustainable. Faced with these widespread symptoms of decline, our country has no other choice than to implement radical changes, including bold and visionary social reforms. Such changes cannot be realized, however, if the government, which is after all responsible, insists on adopting the old approach of tackling any problem that arises «silently» so as not to incur any political cost. These changes cannot come about if the government avoids telling its people the truth, setting out the situation as it is, to put itself on the line by revealing the difficulties it faces – as has been the case in our country for many decades now. There is no other way. It should be Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis himself who tells the truth to his people – without exaggeration, without any air of impending doom, but also without any hesitation in facing unpleasant realities. The naked truth is the only thing that will put a stop to our illusions and is the only reliable foundation for a collective attempt toward recovery.