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Meritocracy vs."Bloodline Law":How to draw inspiration from American history for a future in Romania

Dumitru Buzatu, a prominent figure in PSD, was caught red-handed, specifically with a sizable bribe of 1.25 million lei. To add more to the picture, the Buzatu family seems to be everywhere: Gabriela Crețu, his ex-wife, is a PSD senator, and their son, Tudor, is a state secretary.

But let's not be mistaken. We're not just talking about an isolated case but rather a "tradition" that seems to be flourishing in Romanian public administration.

Okay, with that in mind, let's take a step back and see how others have solved this problem. In a successful business, the vision, mission, and values are not just words on paper; they form the foundation on which an organization builds its strategy.

But what happens when at the governmental level, these values are overshadowed by family ties and connections?

Before offering a possible solution, let's first understand where the inspiration comes from. America, two centuries ago, was ensnared in the "spoils system," a mechanism whereby government positions were distributed as rewards for political support or sinecures, not for competence. This led to corruption and inefficiency. Then came the Pendleton Act in 1883, which changed everything. It introduced competitive exams for public positions, thereby promoting competence over political connections and blood ties. This fundamental shift in hiring and promotion was a cornerstone in America's exponential growth, allowing the country to progress rapidly and become a global superpower.

Now, looking at Romania, the parallels are evident. We can argue that we are in a stage similar to America's 200 years ago. However, we have an advantage: we can learn from their history and accelerate our transformation. Like America in the 19th century, Romania needs to readjust its compass. This means prioritizing competence and merit over political connections or family ties. Of course, we've been bombarded with these grand expressions so often that we might not truly perceive them anymore. But, if we adopted a law inspired by the Pendleton Act, with transparent procedures, hires strictly based on merit, and rigorous checks conducted by independent experts, we could truly change this harmful paradigm.

PS: In "The Psychology of the Romanian People" by Daniel David, we discover that the trust of Romanians is firmly anchored in the family. Period. We cannot expect an intrinsic transformation given this cultural foundation. A 'nudge', like a new 'Pendleton-like' legislation, might be the catalyst for change.

PPS: Do we learn from history or repeat the mistakes? Who will be Romania's 'Pendleton'? Civil society? An unexpected think tank? Brussels? Or perhaps the source is closer than we think...


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