Thursday, July 15, 2010

American Polity and Politics

My facebook page has been the home of some wonderful debates about our nation and our President. I would like to offer some thoughts about some fundamental "truisms" that seem to be at the core of the challenges we face today.

My overall point is that the majority of Americans oppose big and growing government. They oppose high taxes to support big government. Why? Because we value freedom and competition.

1. America is a capitalist and consumerist society. People make choices everyday in a very competitive marketplace for the products and services they want and need. In my lifetime, competition has exploded in every industry -- transportation, food, technolgy, financial services. As consumers and capitalists, the majority of Americans do not believe the federal government provides good value for money. To be very clear, the majority of Americans do not believe that the taxes they pay are effectively nor efficiently spent to provide services they need and want. Indeed, if I were to write a full paper on this subject, I would create a "hierarchy of needs for government services" which would clearly show that citizens appreciate "direct" services like the police, fire department, roads, water/sewage, trash collection. They tolerate military expenditures because they are effective, but not efficient. Hence we run out of patience for the cost of wars like Iraq and Afghanistan...not because we are losing, but because they are expensive. When we move towards "indirect" services, meaning Energy, Eduction, Health and Human Services...we begin to see that Americans don't believe they are well run nor worth the money being spent vis-a-vis taxes. When we move farther afield towards Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, Welfare, most citizens understand what they are but don't think this is an ideal system. It is bloated, wasteful and uncompetitive.

2. The United States federal, state and local governments are large and have a self-interest in maintaining and growing their place in our society. I have yet to meet a politician or career civil servant who does not know that my first point is true. But they are not going to voluntarily quit their jobs. It is only under duress that governments furlough (notice I did not say fire) workers. Indeed, we should all be thankful for the AMERICAN voters resolve to pass balanced budget laws in 48 states. These force governors to cut spending, or as is the case in Washington State, raise taxes, which will most likely lead to voters ousting the party in power this fall. If we had a balanced budget amendment for the federal government, which INCLUDED entitlements, then we would see the type of appropriate cuts that have been forced upon Greece, Spain and Ireland.

3. What all Americans demand of the President of the United States, as the highest ranking, most powerful and completely responsible CHIEF EXECUTIVE of the nation is outstanding GOVERNANCE. The Executive branch of the USA EXECUTES. It does not LEGISLATE and it does not ADJUDICATE. Those tasks are for the other two branches of government. We demand that the President be the world's best CEO. He has to tell us where we are going, and how we will get there. Then he has to perform as an Executive. The most successful US Presidents have well understood that they must enforce the balance of power against the other two branches. The Executive Branch is the only one which can government my 2nd point, and respond to my first point. The Executive Branch must cut waste over the departments it runs. It must improve the services it provides. Look at the Internal Revenue Service; it has completely remade itself into an effective and quite frankly friendly and useful part of our federal government. The US President must govern the passions which are inherent both from the Legislature and from the Civil Service. That is her/his job.

4. So why do a majority of Americans not support President Obama today? Well, the answer is simple -- we don't like where he is telling us we are going, and he has not proven to be an outstanding Chief Executive. To be clear, he has succeeded in his LEGISLATIVE agenda. He has passed health care, financial reform, and economic stimulus. He will LEGISLATE changes in Education and Energy. He will continue the policy of withdrawal from Iraq and upscaling our efforts in Afghanistan. So why don't we support him? BECAUSE HE IS NO LONGER A LEGISLATOR, and what we all see is that he believes in big government and higher taxes. We don't want that. We know it is not efficient nor effective. That is not where we want to go. The majority of Americans are aware that our spending is out of control. We see that the because citizens refuse to pay for more government spending with taxes, the government borrows money to pay for what they provide. This is not market competitive and is not sustainable. This is where Obama has lost us. On the second point, we fear that he is not the world's best CEO. We are becoming concerned that he is no more capable than George W. Bush.

This is not about communism nor socialism. This is about the majority of Americans NOT believing in big government nor higher taxes. This is about the majority of Ameicans demanding great leaders and executives in the White House.

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