Next to Harvard, where everyone apparently is a genius and gets perfect scores so the admissions office won’t be embarrassed by having allowed in someone who can’t figure out Fermat’s Last Theorem, no place is grade inflation greater than Greece.
It starts in the schools where most students get either 20 – which is 100 in the U.S. – or close to it because teachers are under pressure to get even dolts out of the classroom and don’t want to be considered mean or inegalitarian.
A high school student could start a fire in the classroom (they have) or use it for a toilet (they have) and someone in a committee of teachers charged with disciplining them would urge the others to look the other way, the most frequently used direction in Greece.
Not to be outdone, alleged managers in the Greek Civil Service system give perfect marks to all their workers – at one point more than 800,000 people were graded perfect even if they were always late, didn’t show up at all, set their desk and hair on fire, sat around smoking and drinking coffee and sleeping and shot their manager. Maybe Harvard could learn something here.
Greece’s international lenders, the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central (EU-IMF-ECB), which put up 240 billion euros ($317 billion) in two bailouts noticed this, along with an unequal pay system in which workers with the same jobs but in different ministries were paid whatever someone decided.
Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who studied at Harvard and Stanford, is in a battle with unions and recalcitrant Leftists from the major opposition SYRIZA party who are opposing a plan to evaluate workers for real.
“Evaluation is one of the most useful administrative tools,” he said. “For many decades it was a useless tool in Greece because all public servants would get full marks.”
Greek worker evaluations, like Greek report cards, have been exercises in futility because no one wants to take responsibility for pointing out that some people fail and that’s just the way it is.
What’s complicating his dilemma is that his New Democracy Capitalists, now led by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, and its partner the PASOK Anti-Socialists, for decades packed public payrolls with stooges, flunkies, lackeys and sycophants in return for votes and now are charged with getting rid of thousands of them.
Mitsotakis had promised that there would be evaluations before people were fired but he exempted Parliament workers and friends of politicians while dismissing lower-paid workers such as cleaning ladies, teachers, school nurses, crossing guards and janitors, putting his credibility at risk.
Compounding his error, he then set a quota that 15 percent of all workers evaluated would be deemed to have failed, even if they didn’t. The problem with that is that the people who would have been failed would have been those without political patrons and not on their merits.
He’s now had to backtrack on the quota and after more than 20 mayors and SYRIZA’s Rena Dourou, the newly-elected Attica Regional Governor, refused to implement the evaluations, saying it was a cover for mass dismissals.
It was, of course, but the mass dismissals are needed to get rid so much deadwood that you could light your fireplace for the next hundred years with it. That gives Mitsotakis a contradictory problem because he wants to do the right thing the wrong way.
Dourou’s failed argument was that the evaluation scheme is unconstitutional and “serves the demands of Greece’s lenders” for more civil servants to be sacked.
“The aim should be to create an evaluation system that makes public services better and more effective,” she said. That could be done first by not hiring flunkies and then by getting rid of people who don’t work.
But SYRIZA, which has taken a growing lead in polls over New Democracy after Samaras did a flip-flop to support austerity he had opposed while out of office, senses it will come to power and, if it does, the party will hire so many of ITS friends that Greece will make the earth tilt to the Left.
That’s the way life is: people say they want you to be fair but what they really want is to be fair to them and screw everyone else they don’t like.
That’s rule number one in life: it all depends on whose oxe is being gored: if it’s someone else’s, that’s fine, but not if it’s mine. A SYRIZA Administration would be like a New Democracy or PASOK Administration.
Mitsotakis said he’d prosecute balking mayors and municipal officials and there has been a move to do that. Bit in Greece it takes so long to get someone into court, unless they’re muckraking journalists, everyone forgets why they were there in the first place.
Mitsotakis took a shot at Dourou who is leading the mutiny. “How can she talk about legality when she refuses to enforce a law passed in Parliament?” Mitsotakis told Mega TV. “Law abidance cannot be a la carte.”
It always has been in Greece, especially for New Democracy where Samaras ignores court orders he doesn’t like, so people need to check their facts before popping off.
But there’s no doubt Greek workers need to get report cards, as long as it’s not from the teachers who said they were perfect in the first place.