First and foremost, government is civil service. It's an ideology, to devote your mind and energy to improving living and working conditions for your fellow countrymen. As a government official you are not important in who you are but in what you do.
The ruler or leader of a government is not the whole of the government. It's a temporary position at most, regardless for how long. This goes for most of the top layer of government.
The mainstay of government are the workers, the bureaucrats, that hold position regardless of who is ruler. These middle level bureaucrats can stay in their position for an entire working life, anywhere up to forty years or more. While reliability is admirable, ingrained power is not.
Bureaucrats and money, spending
While we all know or suspect government corruption at the top levels, the corruption at the middle and lower levels is often overlooked or underestimated. Unfortunately, this lower level corruption can be the most destructive of all, even if its monetary value is less.
This middle level is a constant drain on resources and often the reason why taxes are continuously increased. It is common practice in many places that yearly budgets are automatically increased by at least 10% regardless of any planned future or past expenditures.
Why? Because it is also common knowledge that if you budget less for next year you may not get any increase the year after that when you may indeed need it.
The result of this typical bureaucratic behaviour is that far too much tax money gets spent on unnecessary, even frivolous items, positions and procedures. Because, unless you spend all of your budget - and declare a deficit - it would again become clear that you are getting too much. As Oscar Wilde said: "The bureaucracy is expanding to meet the needs of the expanding bureaucracy." And it's not a good thing.
Businesses that deal with governments know this very well and equally increase their prices every year for any government department that has a contract with them. This results in huge price differences in what a government department would pay as opposed to a regular business or a consumer. Understandably, government projects are highly sought after.
Some governments install watchdogs that make sure they do not pay more than market value for any goods or services acquired, but this is rare.
In wealthier governments an attitude of "unlimited" money and special interest (let's hire uncle John and split the profits) cost the tax payer amazing amounts of money.
What we need here is serious attitude adjustment.
The right stuff
Should there be tests to determine who is civic minded? There certainly should be some kind of aptitude test to determine who makes a good leader or not.
In a true democratic society we should try and find the best person for the job of leader, not whoever can put out the most cash and who has the most influential friends. In fact, these are two factors which should be considered as a negative when accepting candidacy for the top job.
Is it really acceptable that anyone can become a leader?
Many professions have strict regulations, preceded by years of study and exams before they can call themselves professional and are allowed to practice. Why then are we lacking this trajectory for one of the most important positions in society?
Shouldn't our candidate leaders be subjected to rigorous testing to ensure their qualifications and qualities are suited to the job? Yes, they should be. Then why isn't it done?
Why is the democratic principle of "allowing anyone to stand for office" made a mockery of when reality shows that "anyone" is certainly not able to do so. In fact very few are, or are even allowed in some places. When you have a choice of one, as in Iraq under Saddam Hussein or in Belarus, you cannot speak of democracy.
When you have to bribe or coerce people to vote for you democracy is equally non-existent. When you send out hoodlums to terrorise people at the voting booth this is also not democracy nor is miscounting of the ballots or replacing them.
Most people are not fooled by these fake democracies, "it's so unlike our own". Yet many are fooled by supposedly democratic systems where the choice is to have to choose from the best competent out of a group of incompetents. That's not good enough, is it?
They're not listening
Election time is the only time we actually get to hear what we want - less taxes, less unemployment, cleaner environment, fight corruption, better health care, etc.
Unfortunately, once election is over our opinions are completely ignored until the next election comes around, and any decision-making is completely out of our hands.
Those we elected are supposed to follow up on their election promises because this is why we voted for them. So why aren't they doing so?
Simple, because they never intended to. Except for promising what you want to hear they are not interested and return to business as usual with the only difference is that we have maybe different faces to look at. Political parties and leaders become dynasties with families alternating power and control, as in the case in Greece. In effect, they have become royalty of old and care little for the ordinary citizen.
Shouldn't there be a system of control whereby failed election promises result in jail? Maybe.
What is sure is that our elected leaders certainly need some kind of incentive to stick to their promises.
And why are leaders not required to retire? Are people in their 80's really aware enough of what goes on to be good leaders? No, they're not.
The elderly are not encouraged to drive a car beyond 80, why on earth do they think they can still rule a country?
The elderly make good advisers but are certainly not capable of proper decision-making at the complex and ever-changing level of high office. With a global population of which half is under 25 we need younger leaders, able to understand and react adequately and correctly to a fast-changing political and global environment.
What we need is an age limit on candidates, perhaps 60? At 60 you are still young enough to be active and at the end of your term, which will be between 4 and 7 years later, you have the right age for either retirement or an advisory role.
If everyone else has to retire at around 65, surely we wouldn't want our leaders to be feeble old men?