People often ask politicians: «Where the devil did you find this guy you appointed? Couldn’t you come up with anyone better?» They usually get an automatic response: «Do you want to take the post or, perhaps, find someone who is better for the job?» A recent premier’s right-hand man used to complain about his trouble filling key state posts. He started out by getting a list of the qualified candidates but when he actually tried to ring them up for the job, they would decline, saying that they’d rather «stay out of trouble.» So after many rejections, the right-hand man had to deal with the usual suspects – has-been politicians, deputies’ sons and some people who were simply not fit for the job. These last would kill for the post, would always show up at party gatherings and did all sorts of political favors. That’s more or less how we end up with incompetent pension fund chiefs and the like. Every prime minister, regardless his party background, faces the same problem. He finds the various public corporation functionaries hard to trust because the tide of populism has swept with all its sense of hierarchy into the state sector. One of the greatest blunders of the past 50 years was the abolition of general directors at ministries. In the absence of a reliable state apparatus, the premier is left looking for a man like Vourloumis, Athanassopoulos or Veremis. In other words, looking for successful men who would never be tempted by murky dealings, people who actually take pleasure in a bit of bashing from the unionists and populist press, people who grew up with the romantic belief that «at the end of the day, you must give something back to your country.» It’s an endangered species that our politicians must protect.