Recipe for change – first steps
A good mate of mine, Boyan Benev, just posted this note on his thoughts for how to take the first steps to change. I liked it, so am re-posting it here, along with my own addendum about transparency afterwards!
Opportunity to for change:
- I don’t believe that change will come from protests [only].
- Real change comes from sequential action – we need a spark but that spark alone can never carry change through to the end.
- If people really are interested in change [and not pure idealism] there’s a need to put together a series of aims we want to achieve… and then doggedly chase them.
- These should be realistic, achievable goals rooted in what’s legal, possible and positive for the long-term future of Bulgaria (Steve’s edit: or any other country!)
Only when we stand up and take responsibility for our discontent can we really expect to see change in any real form. Personally what I want to see is the following:
- The best way to deal with corruption is by removing information barriers.
- We have the technology and the understanding of how to apply this: let’s remove as many barriers as possible to information on how our country works on a national, regional and institutional level.
- When EVERYTHING is out in the open and publicly accessible, debate and action on what *is* corruption, and how to deal with it, will be far easier.
- We need more highly-qualified people in modern fields and disciplines; not just now but in years to come (e.g. Additive Manufacturing, Biotech.)
- This is a case of lifelong education reform: starting from an early age and learning throughout our lives.
- We have some great things going on in BG already – let’s build on them over the coming years. (Steve’s edit: we need to find and highlight the areas of success within any country or organization; this is a great way to show people around us that positive change is not only possible, but happening.)
- Bulgaria is not Sofia – we cannot let the country develop at two speeds. (Steve’s edit: this applies to any country – great disparity amongst any country or organization creates problems. Closing the gap promotes much healthier growth and harmony amongst the community.)
- The capital will always be ahead, but let’s focus on policies which will encourage regional development (based again, on education reform).
- We need a MUCH leaner government, state and administrative apparatus.
- So many of the barriers to citizens and business come from a bureaucracy which is in no way modernising at the pace it needs to.
- Let’s seriously reduce the size of these institutions, improve pay and the quality of the remaining workforce and work towards a model which gives the people what they deserve: the opportunity to build a better life for themselves via either private enterprise or a steady career.
Action only happens through action – it doesn’t matter whether we fail in the short run!
Note on Transparency and fairness of salary
Those of you who have heard me speak frequently know that I’m an adamant proponent of transparency – believing that within a workplace, for example, there should be no secrets.
In the sense of Boyan’s post: government and public institutions, transparency for me is a fundamentally important tool to eradicate corruption. I really wonder: most people I meet are upset about corruption: yet unfortunately, endemic corruption has persisted for generations. It seems that many people, when they get into government, simply perpetuate the corruption. Someone recently mentioned to me that “government can’t lead the people, but rather follows the people” – which i found to be a good insight. Government *is* the representation of the masses. Sadly, one of the problems is that we’re so used to corruption as a society, that it seems when people get into a position where they are exposed to the “opportunity” of corruption, they take it – thereby continuing the cycle. We’re stuck in a mentality of accepting corruption as “standard”; believing it’s just the way things have been done, and how things need to be done… It’s once again back to being “stuck” in what I’ve come to call “Inertia Thinking.”
So it seems that to stop this, we need to simultaneously emphasize the point on “well-paid” government employees. PAY A GOOD SALARY for important government positions! Other countries have figured this out (presidents, senators, representatives: they all get a upper-middle-class range of salaries, so hwy not in BG?) If we provide a good salary, this reduces the incentive for taking bribes or participating in corruption in the first place.
Combined with transparency, this seems a reasonable means to carry forward some basic reform in the system, and a great first step to rooting out the culture of corruption, and the subsequent inefficiency corruption causes.