December 2, 2007

Got a problem? Send a letter to Ahmadinejad.

Nobody expects bureaucracies, especially in developing countries, to work in an ideal manner. When it fails to fulfill its duties, you might resort to the high ranking chiefs as the last possible option. When somebody goes directly to the headquarter to complain and ask for help, a responsible chief should be careful not to undermine the whole system but to use this opportunity to identify holes within the system and repair them. He might sometimes intervene in the process to solve a problem individually, but that must not turn into a common practice. A by-product of this act might be increased popularity of the chief and increasing number of those who directly go to headquarter before trying other options. A stupid chief would let this positive-feedback continue until the whole destruction of system. And Ahmadinejad is obsessed with this dumb idea.

As the mayor of Tehran, he practiced direct-talks-with-people over and over. In these direct talks, people could communicate their problems. And he used to order resolving the problem. Since such orders were usually in the form of writing these things in the margins of the very page a direct-talker brought to his office and finally signing the page, it was briefly known as ‘signing’. Many people warned in that period of time that a chief should remain a chief, not to turn into a ‘signature machine’.

Assuming power 2 and half a year ago, he, aware of the positive consequences of these acts in terms of popularity and more power, continued the practice. In every visit he paid to different provinces, hundreds of thousands of letters were sent to the president, asking him for help. Many people ask for financial support, and very often it happens that they receive a reply from president’s office with about 50$. Since the president is not able to support all his people, such helps are insufficient in amount and random in frequency.

A very good example which shows the deficiency of this practice happened when he was to enter a stadium to give a speech. Before getting there, a disabled person on wheelchair, apparently a causality of Iran-Iraq war, asked the president for help. He needed a car and Ahamadinejad instantly ordered to give him a car. He entered the stadium, offered the speech, but before getting out of that place some of his guards told him that many other casualties are waiting outside the door to ask president for brand new cars... and Ahmadinejad escaped from an emergency door.

Recent developments: Hamed Talebi, a reporter who follows Ahmadinejad closely, reports that if you go near presidential palace these days, you will see some professionals who have pen and blank papers and can write a very good letter for you, a letter which provokes Ahmadinejad enough to solve your problem. At least, this has provided some new jobs for the jobless... got a problem? Send a letter to Ahmadinejad!


Esfandiar Khodaee said...

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