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Enough Already!

Most exceptional editorials and essays are produced during times of social upheaval, citizen angst and polarity among conflicting ideologies. On October 2, the Las Vegas Sun carried three separate editorials written by New York Times authors Paul Krugman (Rebels Without a Clue), Gail Collins (Congress Cracks Up) and Charles Blow (The Captain Ahabs of the House). All were blunt, scathing reviews of the current idiocy taking place in Washington D.C. and, even though each had a different prism, the overriding theme was that the epic level of dysfunction is totally irrational and horrifically stupid. And, of course, it is the American public and global business community that will bear the brunt of the various ripples that are sure to come.

Poignant rhetoric aside, an even more interesting fact is that there are many, many other forces at play on the planet and all deserve attention.  Nicholas Kristof wrote a recent essay celebrating that human mortality due to AIDS is finally being reduced, especially in sub-Saharan and South Africa and other stricken areas. And, through the efforts of many governments, the World Bank, various NGOs and the United Nations, we are seeing a substantial reduction in worldwide poverty, disease, illiteracy and isolation. Mostly through the efforts of non-governmental agencies, such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, we are witnessing enormous progress in disease prevention and education, both of which are leading to revolutionary growth in grassroots entrepreneurs and neighborhood businesses. Good things are happening…they just aren’t happening due to the good work of the U.S. Congress.

It seems clear that the American public must collectively rise above petty political ideologies and seek a deeper understanding of what good government should entail. We have elected representatives who virtually always ‘re-center’ once on Capitol Hill. Good intentions are quickly replaced by positions driven by power and political control. The calculus of a broad and sustainable American vision then becomes about near-term struggles for position, assignments, and illusory ‘proof’ that elected representatives actually meet constituent expectations. The record will show that, on the small stuff, each state gets a share of earmarks and pork. But on a grander scale, this country is on a slippery slope greased by greed and senseless jousting. At a time when our leaders should be fully engaged in collaborative efforts to address water issues, create a long-term economic plan, and address infrastructure decline, incarceration levels, immigration, educational performance, public safety, and uncontrolled health care costs, they default to a childish game of chicken. As stated in previous Blogs, no business or local government leader could afford to act as foolishly as politicians, because nothing would ever get done and their operations would quickly fail.

These are troubling times. While many good things are happening around the world, U.S. leadership has become a sad joke. Regardless of rationales concocted by party ideologues, we need decision makers, thought leaders and visionaries who focus on the long-term development of this nation. We are tired of foolish wars and police actions; we are tired of high unemployment; we are tired of resource dependence; and we are tired of hearing how the U.S. ranks far below many other countries in educational performance. But mostly, we are tired of a juvenile, self-serving, and egocentric Congress that can’t plan, manage, decide or implement.

jfl-pic-blue-shirtyellow-tie1.jpgWith over three decades working in and with federal, state and local government, John Luthy understands public agencies.  Known for his real world, straight talking style, he is a leading futurist specializing in city, county, state, and federal long-range thinking and planning. John is the author of Operations Planning: A Guide for Public Officials and Managers in Troubled Times, and The Strategic Planning Guide, both published by the International City/ County Management Association (ICMA). Reprints of his book, Planning the Future – A Guide to Strategic Thinking and Planning for Elected Officials, Public Administrators and Community Leaders (2010) has sold out three times. An innovative and dynamic presenter, John is frequently asked to speak and consult on how to prepare public organizations and communities for emerging challenges (public futures at http://www.futurescorp.com).

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One Response

  1. Lack of leadership hits the nail on the head. Too many elected officials seem driven by love of self, position, prestige, and power rather than love of country.

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