First steps for governmental change

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!
[hr_padding]

Boyan’s post:

Opportunity to for change:

[list type=check]

  • 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!)

[/list]

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:
[hr_padding]

Transparency:

[list type=star]

  • 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.

[/list]

Education:

[list type=star]

  • 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.)

[/list]

Regional Development:

[list type=star]

  • 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).

[/list]

Bureaucracy:

[list type=star]

  • 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.

[/list]

[pullquote align=center]

Action only happens through action – it doesn’t matter whether we fail in the short run!

[/pullquote]

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.

[pullquote align=center]

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.

[/pullquote]

Is Bulgaria Ready for Change?

Are we ready for change?

For those of you not aware of what’s going on in Bulgaria; the month of February 2013 is sparking wide-spread protests against many things – in particular the way that Bulgarian utility companies are operating, as well as endemic corruption.
[pullquote align=center]
Amidst all these protests, I’m wondering one fundamental question: is the average Bulgarian citizen *ready* for change?
[/pullquote]
There is a significant difference between protesting against something specific (e.g. like a very high electricity bill which is a large % of your monthly salary), verses protesting for systemic change. Additionally: there is a difference between simply protesting (don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to see the people take a stand!) and having an action plan for change!
[hr_padding]

BULGARIA-PROTESTS_CS_Monitor
[hr_padding]

What needs to happen is reform in the government system from top to bottom: total eradication of the mentality that feeds corruption, complete transparency, massive elimination of waste and red tape, and a focus on government *serving* people: meaning implementing processes that *help* us live and work easier: NOT implementing policies that hinder, confuse, or frustrate us.

System change is also about incorporating a sense of personal and social accountability into ourselves, and in particular the people chosen to run our government, to use our tax dollars wisely. The closest model I can think of is the Swiss model – a government that most Swiss people I talk to seem pretty happy with (at least more so than most other governments)!

Without such systemic change, any new government is just a repeat of the past. If the previous party that just resigned returns to power – or whomever wins again – and conducts a little ‘re-shuffle’ of people, combined with some new ‘populist’ promises to lower utility bills, well… nothing really changes, besides 1 or 2 quick fixes. But the underlying issues remain.
[pullquote align=center]
Are we actually READY for real improvement? Do we, as the MASSES, really understand and embrace the need for systemic reform? Are we not just FED UP with corruption and inefficiency, but ready to ACT for change?
[/pullquote]