A democracy without values easily turns into open or thinly disguised totalitarianism – St John Paul II, Centesimus Annus, 46.

As a nostalgic octogenarian, I yearn for the time when we had a civil service headed by directors, comptrollers, commissioners, etc. who had started their long journey to the top through an open competitive examination. This system owed its origin to the UK Civil Service Reform of 1854.

John Stuart Mill had this to say: The proposal to select candidates for the civil service of government by a competitive examination appears to me to be one of those great public improvements the adoption of which would form an era in history. The effects which it is calculated to produce in raising the character both of the public administration and of the people can scarcely be overestimated.

It has equal claims to support from the disinterested and impartial among conservatives and among reformers. For its adoption would be the best vindication which could be made of existing political institutions, by showing that the classes who, under the present constitution, have the greatest influence in the government, do not desire any greater share of the profits derivable from it than their merits entitle them to but are willing to take the chances of competition with ability in all ranks: while the plan offers to liberals, so far as the plan extends, the realisation of the principal object which any honest reformer desires to effect by political changes, namely, that the administration of public affairs should be in the most competent hands, which, as regards the permanent part of the administrative body, would be ensured by the proposed plan, so far as it is possible for any human contrivance to secure it.

But 1854 is a long, long time ago, 167 years to be exact. And, as narrated in the First Book of Samuel, ‘Israel’ desired a king, prompted by the failure of Samuel’s sons (8:3). So our new ‘king’ must give us swashbuckling CEOs (euphemistically recruited as persons worthy of trust) to take charge of public administration: while all dead wood was to be thrown into the scrap heap.

Efficiency and merit become the latter-day clarion call. But it so often happens that “we may appear great in an employment below our merit and often appear little in an employment that is too great for us” and,  consequently “we should not judge of a man’s merit by his great abilities, but by the use he makes of them” – François de La Rochefoucauld .

Summing up quote: “I don’t like a man to be too efficient. He’s likely not to be human enough” – Felix Frankfurter.

Are our modern-day yuppies human enough?

Louis Spiteri - Mosta

Gozo: what is the current reality?

Victoria. Photo: Shutterstock.comVictoria. Photo:

A Planning Authority which continues to pigheadedly refuse to meet and discuss with the island’s united cross-party cohort of mayors who are all seriously concerned about the now-close-to-total loss of the island’s traditional and tourist-attracting rural character.

The Gozo Tourism Association in a rare wise show of awareness of what it really is that makes Gozo, Gozo: again, its essential rural character, what some barbarian idiots describe as being “efforts to keep Gozo a crib”.

The ever-increasing number of permanent (not philistine weekend visitors) Gozitan residents who are now fully realising that, sooner than they know, their formerly beautiful isle will be no different to the now definitely PA-uglified Malta.

That, at long last, communications will be vastly improved as a result of the introduction of a fast ferry to Malta, and, hence, there will never be any necessity for a much more expensive Malta-Gozo tunnel which, at the current situation of the country’s finances, is simply unaffordable. That having a fast ferry, more normal ferries for the Mġarr-Ċirkewwa route, an efficient Mġarr-Valletta Grand Harbour ferry, plus efficient bus services at both Mġarr and Ċirkewwa whenever the ferries berth, all of these put together should simply put a stop to the Gozitans’ grumbling and bleating about what they funnily call “double insularity”.

That any self-respecting Gozitan voter should, silently but definitely, be now (and not when an election campaign would be well under train) keeping a good attentive watch to all of these elements before casting his vote in the now not-very-much-longer-away general election.

John Consiglio – Birkirkara

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