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15 Things I'd Do If I Were Supreme Almighty Leader of Romania

I've already written a bit about my hopes and dreams for this country. I truly believe that a lot of it has to do with each and every one of us who lives here, if only from the point of view that we are many and 'they' are few. But it's starting to look like a Zombie infestation. Ordinary Romanians, kids even, are infected with the "fuck this country, I'm just gonna make money any way I can" bug. The biggest irony is that if every Romanian were to magically become a billionaire overnight, I'd be willing to bet my billion that the country would be just as messed up this time next year - maybe worse.

On my last trip to Bucharest, I started a conversation with my seat neighbours, a group of high school kids around seventeen or eighteen. I asked them what they think of Romania politically and what they would do to help change it. The girls were shy, but the dude with them, a really extroverted clown, started telling me that he doesn't give a shit about this piece of crap country and some more impolite things to that effect.
"So wait, you don't care if it ever gets better?" I asked him.
"All I care about is that I can do what I want, make my money, fuck everything else."
"Man, what's wrong with you, don't you realize that if it's better for everyone it'll be better for you too?"
"I am good, you don't know me, I'm doing good!" He was swelling up like a peacock-pigeon hybrid.
"I'm not talking about you, but people in general here. You should be ashamed to talk about your country like this."
"I'm not ashamed, why should I be, nothing's good about this place."
"With that kind of attitude it never will be. But let's say you were born in Canada, would you still say this kinda of crap?"
"Umm, probably not."
"So don't you want to feel like that about Romania?"
"Fuck it, and fuck the fuckin politicians, I don't care." And then he turned around in his seat. I shrugged and looked at the girls.
"What do you think?" I asked.
"She wants to know where you're getting off." One of them said pointing to her friend by the window.

Here's the thing though. Us smart, well-intentioned, and hard-working people. Our goals never seem to include a desire to take on leadership roles. It's like we know all about how the country should be run, but we don't want to think about shouldering that responsibility. Not me though, I'm not discounting becoming the guy who eventually takes over Dumitru Dragomir and Mircea Sandu's job(s). I would turn Romanian football around in two years and make this a top five league in Europe in ten. That's another story though. For now let's just imagine I took Victor Ponta's dream job: 

1. Kick out every single ex-communist. No ifs, ands, or buts. I'm not talking about functionaries in the Ceausescu regime, but Securitate officers, informers, high ranking officials, etc. You're fuckin out!

2. Electronic government forms. Online applications for everything. Plate renewals, health care, permits, whatever. Don't mail us anything and don't wait in day-long  line-ups.

3. Fire half the government. Seriously, I'd be doing most of these people a favour, all you need to do is meet a government functionary to know they really don't want to be there. Not to mention they're mostly incompetent anyway.
This is how most of them behave (but some banks and private institutions are sadly the same):

4.  Audit everyone, collect those taxes. I want taxes!! Not talking about new ones, just collect on existing ones at least.

5. Use the taxes. Business taxes to go into business and enterprise growth initiatives. Public taxes into education and infrastructure.

6. Enforce a culture of measurable results in every ministry/institution. ie. You miss the mark, you get fired.

7. Execute anyone who takes a bribe. Okay, just kidding, but I would ruin them. Also change any laws that incite bribes, such as losing your license for running a red-light. A stiff fine will do.

8. Make the singing (or at the very least playing) of the National Anthem mandatory in schools daily.

9. Overhaul education in general. Take out any poem memorization out of the curriculum, instill a practical approach to teaching by abolishing the current method of grading students based on how well they've memorized the contents of a text-book. 

10. Institute a College system where post-secondary students can choose to study a specific trade/skill instead of having to choose between university or work. I realize that this sounds like the old "Scoala Profesionala" system, but it's not. I'm referring to a system where, after finishing high school, students who are not able/willing to go to university can pursue a very focused program in a skilled/techincal trade ie. Java programmer, chef, graphic designer, mechanic, etc.

11. Encouraging various sectors (IT, Agriculture, Tourism) to collaborate with peers and to form professional associations to promote their interests to the government.

12. Hire professionals in the government. If they work for the ministry of infrastructure, they should be trained as engineers and be on top of the trends and practices in the industry.

13. Encourage work and volunteer experience from a young age. Marks are just a number, work experience is the real education.

14. Give tax breaks to companies who are starting out, encourage more small business initiatives.

15. Encourage expats to come back and participate in various institutions - and even in the private sector. As long as they put their non-Romanian ethics to work in this country, we're already progressing.

I could go on and on, but I guess what I'm describing is basically giving the people of this country a swift kick in the ass. Who am I to do that? Well that's just the thing. Nobody special, but if I can put together a list like this in a matter of minutes, clearly there are problems that needs fixing with a kick. As Supreme Almighty Leader, I would no doubt be vilified by some of my people. But many of those are the very parasites who've encouraged the system we've had the past twenty years. I agree that pensions are horribly inadequate and that teachers and doctors are grossly underpaid, but there is no disputing the fact that the government is too big and inefficient and it is not spending money where it needs to be spent. In any case, most problems in this country have much less to do with money than they do with the attitudes and mentality of the people who live here.


  1. AnonymousJuly 28, 2012

    We, the people of the Romania planet, salute you, being from Mars. You forgot to mention though, the minute you'd fire the ex securitate chaps, you'll end up rather bad, or at least, new ones will replace them.
    I learned 2 years of special maths in my 5 year university period, so I know how you feel. Right now I'd do a masters degree in HTML or something, no can do, there isn't any. Feel like chatting? cristi [at] turboprinz [dot] de

    1. That's the good part about these dream exercises, no new Securitate chaps to replace the old ones, I'd take care of them all.

  2. Sounds a lot like Brazil, where I live! But with President Dilma, who is having to deal with the load of crap her popularly venerated predecessor left for her to clear up, i.e the World Cup, the Olympics and 39 Ministries run by Lula's cronies, the worst of whom she sacked last year and still regained overwhelming popularity, you may have a pointer as to what needs to be done at your end. Incidentally, her father was Bulgarian, but settled in the city where I live at a fairly early age and married here. Any questions?

    1. Well, Lula is someone I can't help admire for his hustle, it's under him that Brazil finally emerged as a powerhouse in BRIC and a much more dynamic country with the semblance of a middle class. The Olympics, World Cup, and massive government, you're right, it's typical self-aggrandizing pageantry that usually ends up doing more harm than good.

  3. I think you have a handle on the situation there. Everything needs to change and you have compiled a great list! The only thing I would change on your list is #13. I have been around quite a few younger people in Buc and I would make # 13 some sort of mandatory 2 year program of volunteering. Many of the young people need a swift kick in the arse to learn that there is more to viata then party, party, party. They need to learn the value of hard work and helping those less fortunate. Otherwise your list is minunat and get the former Commies out acum and not wait for them to die off!

    1. Yeah Gary, making it mandatory might be the only thing that would mobilize these people. I was thinking along the lines of creating an American style mentality where although it's not mandatory, it becomes very tough to go to good schools and get good jobs when you don't have a track record of solid extra-curricular activities.

  4. Agree with Gary! Don't forget, back in Canada volunteering was mandatory to complete our high school diploma. Hospitals had a 3year waiting list for volunteers. That's the kind of culture we need in order to shift the Romanian mentality from a personal gain focus to a common good focus. Which would subsequently solve so many other problems!

    Awesome list. I'd vote for anyone whose political platform resembled it!

    1. Running for office, hmm...I always wanted to see what I look like with white hair, maybe not this early though.

  5. Matt, you and others like you are the future of Romania! It's the same in the states, but different. It takes younger people that care more about their country and what is correct. There are people that care more about correctness and not about money and power! If I could I would round up all the rich chuckleheads and clowns and send them to an area where they can do nu harm and they can continue to fight amongst themselves. Desigur this is just dreaming, however, it will take younger non-communists to actually turn things around in Romania......the states? A lost cause, the system is just too big....Romania? There is a chance I think:)

  6. I just came across this piece of news and it reminded me of your article:

    1. Da, am vazut si eu ca s-a trecut aceasta lege. Bun start :)


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