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To what degree we are ready for the Everlasting Trials Period
Are your aware that the process we are in has an everlasting period? Barack Obama, new US President explained what this period meant in the best way possible. A few days ago, he spoke: "In brief, the issue is this: We will do whatever heals the wounds. It will take time to shape all details of the complete plan pertaining to the steps to be taken. Moreover, some parts of the plan must be reevaluated and revised. Then, we will try it. If one measure does not work, we will try another one." The words of Obama are highly in harmony with the words Franklin Delano Roosevelt used in 1930s as the latter also liked to state that his economic program composed of "brave and insistent trials". So, is this depressing? No, it is not. Accepting the reality rather than fighting against it is the prerequisite for the solution. Those navigating in non-mapped waters should know that they have to try new options continuously. Obama, as the first President of the Star Trek generation has to know what "going to places where no one has dared to go before" means. And now, this is exactly what he will do for the economy. In fact, not only Obama but all of us have to "try things which no one has ever dared to try before". Nowadays, the reality of life is that the one that comes up the solution first will get more benefit. The one that comes up with the solution first will be the one that tried the most. But, to what extent Turkey is ready for this period of continuous trials? Not ready at all... Let us see why.
The everlasting trials period perspective is quite useful for acknowledging what is going on around us. Otherwise, we would be willing to think that we are surrounded with failures and that all step taken delays the solution. However, this is not the current reality. Yesterday, we were living in an atmosphere we recognized and tried before. Now, however, things are different. We first have to adapt to the new climate and adjust with the environment. In this context, it should be admitted we, in a trial and error process, will acknowledge first the fundamental dynamics of the new period and then learn how to control them. Currently, the realities are controlling us. However, after we acknowledge the essence of the period, we will take over the control of the reality. So, the issue is; we would better come to understand that we are in a new period, as soon as possible. This is the first point. If you consider this period as a normal extension of the previous one, you may argue that continuously being erroneous is wrong. However, the process of continuous errors is at the same time the process of insistent trials and a continuous learning process. If we change our point of view, we might be more optimistic in the new period. Why? Because, those trying more will succeed the first while those not trying at all will face trouble. This is the second point.
Think about the first month of Obama at the office. The President is supporting not only the banking sector and the corporate sector. At the same time, measures to protect those in need of protection are taken. For instance, the scope of the health insurance for children is expanded. Regulations aiming at equal wages for women are introduced. The system providing financial support to university students is strengthened. Measures to support those having hard time in paying housing loans are taken. In addition, expenditures to improve the energy efficiency for automobiles are supported. Railway investments are promoted. So, what is being done in a broad sense? In the trial and error process, systematic steps to support the people whose consumption capacity will be affected negatively are taken. An intentional public expenditure program is designed. Not only the corporate sector is supported, but attention is paid to maintain the consumption level. The administration tries its best not to disturb the public conscious by the steps taken. And this is the third point.
So, why does Turkey not seem to have a chance in this period? Because of three reasons. First, the public sector in Turkey does not have a solid policy design skills. What does this mean? We do not know how to measure exactly the purpose of a precaution taken, in advance. The "regulatory impact analysis" introduced during the period of Former Prime Ministry Undersecretary Ömer Dinçer upon a highly to-the-purpose diagnosis, lost ground and unfortunately failed to achieve a concrete settlement. Second, right because of this reason, it takes months for us to understand that we did a mistake so that the mistake cannot be undone. And this is exactly what lies in the core of the "the crisis missed Turkey", "no, it did not miss Turkey yet" issue. When we make a mistake, we cannot acknowledge the seriousness of it until everything is over. Third reason is more political: the AKP (Justice and Development Party) administration performs well in implementing already-tailored policies but fails to develop new roadmaps. The administration does not give the impression that it has acknowledged the creativity requirement imposed by the period.
Turkey was not prepared to the everlasting trials period we are in. Let us hope that it is going to be possible to make the preparations on the road.
This commentary was published in Referans daily on 05.03.2009