Monday, August 29, 2011

Congressional Cost Cutting Obsession is the Tail Wagging the Dog.

When will the bean counters acknowledge that deficit reduction should only be one element of a national economic plan? Nothing would be more slipshod than to create a cost reduction plan without careful attention to how it affects a national economic recovery plan. The trouble is, after over two years of recession, the US has never built a national economic recovery plan. What our congress is doing with this single minded devotion to cost cutting is similar to only studying seat covers while trying to build an automobile.

We do need a comprehensive plan but it should be for economic recovery. It should address all sectors that impinge on the economy such as citizen employment, expanding the manufacturing sector, correcting the trade imbalance, protecting our science leadership, restoring financial integrity and a general return of the principles of the American dream. Obsessive bean counter concentration on cost cutting without understanding the consequences on the rest of the economy will lead to disaster. It is discouraging that this nation is being managed by leaders who do not seem to grasp such a simple principle.

The lack of basic management skills had created a Congress that is badly failing the country. Americans realize this. The current Congress has no creditability with the citizens. The latest Gallup poll shows that only 9% of independent voters support the way Congress is handling its job while 84% of all voters disapprove. These are disastrous results.

What can the citizens do? What can be done to restore the citizens’ faith in its governing institutions? In spite of these failing ratings I have not heard of a serious proposal for extensive reform of Congress from either party. If these polls haven’t energized them what will?

The Constitution makes no allowance for the early termination of an existing Congress. We will have to wait until 2012 to exert our voting power. Unfortunately, unless the situation changes, our choice of candidates in 2012 will come from the same process that created the current gene pool.

The known solutions of letters, emails, and calls don’t seem to be providing the driving force for the level of reform we need. We definitely must open the election process to have more choice in candidates. In fact it may be time for that risky street-driven movement that says “Don’t vote for an incumbent.”

Friday, August 19, 2011

Starbucks CEO Loses Patience-Withholds Political Party Contributions

Howard Schultz ,The CEO of Starbucks. has called for corporations to boycott contributions to political parties until Congress and the Administration agree to work together to address the real problems of the country. CBS News presents the elements of his proposal and contains a link to his letter. A Forbes article “Washington Losing Credibility Among US Business” offers more detailed analysis. The New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ have mailed his letter to all of their listed CEOs.

This is a big time effort to compensate for the lack of confidence in Washington that is retarding our economy. The citizen’s approval of the job by Congress by citizens has dropped off the chart to only 13% . Congress went on vacation at that point and does not intend to return until September.

The two articles and his letter present a realistic analysis of the actions to counter our inept elective government. The conclusion is that current Washington will not create a solution to the sluggish economy. They cannot be counted on to set aside their ideologies and special relations for a solution that is best for America. For the long term good of the country American corporations must actively step up on a bipartisan basis and demand confidence- building results. This is true even if it will sometimes means a hit to short term profits. The boycott of contributions is until decent reform is reached.

In contrast to the hot air politicians who have unproven ideologies they would like to try on us Starbucks has created over 135,000 jobs in the US alone.

It will be interesting to see how many companies join in. Shultz was very careful to say that he is making no comments or influence on policy. He asks only that the parties have their elected members working hard on solving America’s problems and stop viewing election at the national level as a personal and party-based business opportunity.

This is a distressed attempt for reform of our political parties by a practical American business. There is always the possibility that other companies benefitting from today’s confusion and ineptness will increase their contributions to maintain this situation. Good investigative reporting and close attention to those companies by well informed voters is the only counter to these actions.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Performance of Congress Reaches Point of Complete Breakdown

After months of self induced wasted time on the deficit while ignoring the crucial need for energizing the national economy Congress ended up on Tuesday with a bean counter solution for the national credit ceiling. The market immediately gave us its analysis of the legislation by going into free fall, with the Dow losing over 512 points on Thursday.

On Friday, for the first time in its history, the credit rating of the United States was lowered form AAA to AA+ by Standard and Poor. An explanation of the reasoning shows that the primary basis was the deteriorating legislative performance by the Congress, which after months of pathetic effort came very close to causing a default in the country’s’ credit.

Meanwhile Congress left town and won’t be back until early September!

Thus ended several months of record setting self afflicted elected government incompetency, while millions of Americans remain unemployed, our infrastructure crumbles, and our economy remains broken.

Naturally the citizens are irate at this performance. The latest NY Times/CBS poll shows that 82% of the US population disapproves of the performance of Congress. Everyone I know double disapproves. I have yet to meet someone who is a member of the approving 18%. No company would consider a management team as incompetent as the ones we have picked to run our country. I maintain that the root cause of the current pathetic level of performance is closely related to the undeserved power we have given our two political parties.

I specially blame the Democrats because they claim to be the party protecting the average American and have failed. The Republicans openly favor wealth and privilege interests and aggressively protects them with all its political power. In spite of their vast resources the Democrats, by contrast, show only weakness as they fail to confront the Republicans and the bean counters destructive and one sided policies. These policies have been very destructive to middle America. There is no third party to pick up the fallen flag of the American citizen.

Although our Founding Fathers did strongly warn us of the harm they could do, political parties are not mentioned in the Constitution. The current two parties have had over 150 years to legislate themselves into a very powerful position. We have let them capture both our electoral and legislative processes. They have established laws and procedures that make them very difficult to replace. We have only the election process established by the Constitution as a tool. We must very carefully use it in the 2012 election.

Our theoretical limit for Congress is to replace the entire House of Representatives and one third of the senate each national election. We must be careful, however, that the replacements are an improvement over the incumbents. This will require having real research about the candidates.

To get my vote the candidate will have to survive the following evaluation:

Be fully aware of the disaster to the American dream caused by the special interests driven government elite -- and be dedicated to correcting it

Have absolute loyalty to the United States and its people, not to a political party

Not be a one solution-solves-all ideologue.

Advocate revising congressional rules and privileges to be closely aligned with those of the average citizen.

Move the US toward a productive and creative economy by preparing and implementing a comprehensive national plan to restore our economy at all fronts.

Insist that we aggressively use all means available and eliminate the negative trade balance.

Runs a campaign that is faithful to truth and reason. Rejects the usual dodge and lie techniques.

Will treat being elected to congress as an honor and responsibility, not a position to be exploited
There are a few in congress that could pass these requirements, We must support them and drastically increase their numbers in 2012. Then we may have enough for real reform.