Illogical and dysfunctional

Nikola Popovski

We are constantly confronted with the many decisions that are made in society at the micro and macro level, and often for many of them we cannot understand their logic or efficiency. So it is with a series of decisions made by public authorities and institutions. They often seem confusing and vague, and often end in failure, whether immediate or noticeable or gradual, in the long run and inappropriate but with far worse consequences. Our country has long been dominated by the latter.
We are all probably wondering why this is so, and we find fairly accurate but insufficient answers for ourselves. These answers often include that our country is corrupt at all levels and that in such conditions the decisions that are taken have a corrupt rather than public interest. Furthermore, it is clear that institutions at all levels are becoming weaker and more inefficient, burdened with everything, except with the works they were entrusted to do. The reasons for this have long been detected. Some of the objective factors are among those that our society is dangerously disintegrated on many grounds – class, ethnic, religious, political, ideological and other. But some of the reasons for the awful inefficiency lie in some quite other factors. Even when processes that are not under the stroke of corruption, for which we have at least basic institutional capacity and lack some serious class, ethnic, religious, political, ideological divisions, we simply cannot make an efficient and logical decision or solution.
There have been a number of such examples in recent years, and in recent days and weeks they have multiplied. They are a direct consequence of some strange decisions of public authorities and institutions. It is very likely that there is something very wrong and systematically misplaced that keeps repeating over and over and bringing society into a state of constant error. Not only are such examples bad, but they are so obviously illogical that we all wonder what it is to constantly reproduce them.
In the past few days have witnessed that the Government of Macedonia announcing an increased level of job vacancies and job ads for the already overburdened public sector employees (usually in publicly funded public sector institutions), but at the same time adopting or preparing legal solutions with which the surplus employees of the same public sector are offered a transfer to private companies and institutions with a range of benefits, one being that the new private employer should pay only the net salary of the old-new employee, and let the country pay for the employee’s public duties (read budget). That same budget that is the sole financier of all the new jobs being advertised in parallel. On the one hand there is a “surplus” of employees that we need to get rid of with partial state subsidies, and on the other hand there is a need for new jobs with full state subsidies. Very logical. Even efficient.
At the local level we are no different. The City of Skopje, after a long time, returns the Public Transport Company (JSP) ticket for a single ride, but decides that the ticket cannot be bought anywhere other than the bus driver for the price of 40 denars. It’s a bit too expensive right? This will discourage citizens from using public transportation. The majority of families in Skopje own cars and it makes sense because without cars it is quite difficult to live and work in the capital. Suppose those who use their vehicles, sometimes with exception and when possible, want to avoid driving on their own and not bother with parking, but use public transportation to get to a location in the city. A return bus ticket would cost 80 denars, or as much as the fuel the person would use by driving. Why would they then ride a public bus and waste time waiting at bus stops? Let me remind you that Skopje is a highly polluted city and one of the most polluted in the world that is allegedly struggling to reduce pollution for which car exhaust is one of the most important factors. Is the city in the service of the public interest or the JSP as a public entity? Or why the city plans to close down the busiest street in the city center and turn it into a pedestrian zone (let’s not get into the justification of that solution) while at the same time turning the pedestrian quay near Vardar into a street from the Holiday Inn Hotel to the Macedonia Square, can you drive along the pavement where pedestrians are allowed to walk?
There are and will be many more such illogical decisions. One of the serious reasons for them is that the authorities, whether central or local, do not distinguish between what is public good and what is private good. That basic economic concept that substantially affects the way in which economically, legally, politically, and in any other sense is governed by a society is somewhere completely lost and long gone. When the authorities do not differentiate why and when a service or material good in society should be public good and financed by public means, thus becoming accessible to all under the same conditions, and when it should be private and should be left to the public individual consumption decisions, then, should not be expected to be effective and logical even when they are free from corrupt, class, ethnic, religious, political, ideological and other grounds. We have such problems with the numerous decisions on various subsidies that the government constantly approves of private economic entities. By doing so, they and the goals for which they are founded and existed turn at least into occasional or permanent mixed private-public, and often pure public goods. The most frightening thing is that most of the private sector “got hooked” and now requires the state and the government to subsidize their spending on everything and every day, to fix their market failures or to free them from the duties that have towards society. It is similar to its completely lost compass and total behavior in other sectors such as the one regarding the health of the whole, and in particular the public health system, which shows serious signs of collapse.
It seems that such problems in society, and especially in government, cannot be easily or quickly remedied or rectified because there is no prospect of a comprehensive, effective and enforceable plan for how government should behave towards society and its individuals in modern times without being pressured by their current impressions or ideas that are not only captured by the past but also totally ignorant and even dogmatic. As a consequence, it is not excluded that the sinking will not accelerate.

Views expressed in this article are personal views of the author and do not represent the editorial policy of Nezavisen Vesnik