Procrastination Delays Faster Development
Many people believe, as does a friend of mine, that if a job is done too quickly, the persons for whom it is done will consider it's too easy to perform and therefore much can't be charged for it. According to many, something done too fast loses value. That's why to get things done when you need them, or not too long later, you generally have to prod the doer and keep at it.
In a poll taken in November 2001 by the firm Demoscopía for the daily La Nación, the 1200 Ticos interviewed expressed the good and the bad about the Costa Rican nature and behaviour. While many said their countrymen were hard workers, friendly, solidaristic, hospitable, and peaceful, others considered them to be deceitful, conformists, irresponsible, hypocritical and lazy. I recall that at one time in the 1950s, when the country had to make a big import shipment of rice from Nicaragua, one of the sacks had a note on it: "Vagabond Ticos, get to work". The note was of no surprise to Ticos who feel other Central Americans envy them because of their better developed country.
In previous pages I mentioned the expression "a la Tica" (doing things the Tico way). Julio Rodriguez, a very prestigious journalist of La Nación, in one of his excellent columns, expanded on this expression and wrote: "it's a style, a mentality, a dimension of our culture and psychology which should worry us". And I'll add, it's an attitude of letting things fix themselves without much effort and of not giving serious national problems the attention they require for their solution. Doing things "a la Tica" could hurt the country in the future if events such as globalization and international competition in trade are continued to be taken lightly by much of the population.
In March 2002, the government took a hand at trying to lessen the problem of procrastination, at least in its own and the semi-autonomous state offices, by issuing the so-called Citizen's Protection Decree. It's designed to protect citizens from an excess of requirements and administrative procedures. One of its provisions is that an institution must complete its review of any paperwork within the time limit specified by the decree. Generally it's one calendar month. If not, the citizen can assume his or her application or permit is approved. Any official who doesn't comply with the new roles could lose his or her job. Ex-president Miguel Angel Rodriguez Echeverría, on one occasion while still in office, showed his true knowledge of his fellow countrymen when he said that "when a Tico says yes, he means maybe, and when he says maybe, he means no. Ticos don't like to say no outright". This is another case of wanting to get along well with everyone and hurting no one.