Sunday 25 July 2021

[BLOG] Some Ideas to Effect Change

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Many, perhaps most, expats and locals agree that Costa Rica must effect change in direction in order to reduce poverty, become more self sufficient and improve the quality of life.

Unfortunately all 13 candidates have tip toed or totally avoided specifics yet all sing pretty much the same song with different words. Unfortunately, the presidential candidates simply lip sync their script and say very little of anything substantive. How many people can disagree with their generalities claiming “…elect me for a better Costa Rica?”

Certainly no president or the Assembly are going to tackle the hardcore specifics during a run for office. And, once in office it is time to enjoy four years of benign neglect on all critical and especially controversial issues.

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How about we take common sense to another level?

Like the Philippines, India, China, etc. we are an out sourcing country and so we should be able to out source a reasonable percent of public healthcare right here in Costa Rica. The Social Security (Caja) is a massive bureaucracy and collectively dysfunctional. It can take years for non-essential surgery and months on end to receive critical tests. Meanwhile the patients either give up, or drop dead. However, in all cases they suffer for lack of medical attention and a shortage of equipment as well as valuable medicines.

The proposal is to out source using payment vouchers and permitting patients of the Caja to employ the medical services of approved physicians and laboratories!

There are plenty, perhaps too many physicians running around Costa Rica in private practice who would welcome public healthcare patients, if they got paid. MRI machines and CAT scans, X-ray equipment, blood testing laboratories, etc. can be found all over Costa Rica. Even private hospitals and clinics would benefit since an expensive piece of medical equipment not in use is a cost. With Caja patient vouchers, the equipment or health services would be kept busy, the pressure to perform put on public healthcare providers would be reduced and the critical patient wait time would also be reduced.

Schools! The quality of education has been a question mark even on the university level. I argue that we do not need more schools and especially no more private universities. We have plenty of “private” offerings from preschool all the way to earning an unaccredited doctorate.

The problems are the constant drop out rate and didactic subject matter of public institutions, especially at the high school level. The middle class tends to struggle to provide private education which is extremely costly. On the other hand, lower middle class wage earners along with those in poverty use the public school system and many of those students drop out to seek much needed work in support of their basic family needs.

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What the country should do is to focus on, expand and modernize its trade and vocational schools which train young people and adults alike to work in well paying trades rather than back breaking work in the fields or flipping burgers for a living.

Costa Rica lacks trained automobile mechanics, computer repair technicians, competent carpenters, electricians, plumbers, pharmacist techs, even veterinarian assistants; all of which require a formal learning process and are in demand. The lack of vocational schools is most evident outside of the San Jose area yet that is where most of the public school drop outs occur.

At last count there were 22 different law enforcement agencies. This is just one example of Costa Rica’s penchant for duplication of work resulting in excessive costs and obliterating all lines of accountability.

The answer is consolidation with one bureaucrat at the top whose feet can be held to the fire. It is critical to stop the nonsense of duplication and prevent “passing the buck” which has resulted in exaggerated corruption, limited productivity, substandard quality of work and a mind set which has ignored infrastructure maintenance for 50 years.

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I am sure there are many more ideas to effect change, and they should be expressed. Maybe, just maybe some decision maker will be listening?

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Juan Sebastian Campos
An expat from the U.S., educator and writer in English and Spanish since 1978 with a doctorate in business administrations (DBA) from the United States and Germany. A feature writer for ABC News, Copley Press and the Tribune Group with emphasis on Central America.

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