Stormy political seas

If you like what follows, I shamelessly ask you to pass it on.

I’m optimistic the U.S. Government machine can be fixed. Term limits. No earmarks. Flat tax. Privatize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and return General Motors, Chrysler and AIG to the private sector. Less bureaucratic regulation and mandating. Proper federalism, giving more responsibility to the states. There’s much, much  more of course, also applying to state and local governments and mostly having to do with simplifying or eliminating cumbersome government subsystems.

Do you buy into the party line that the ship of state needs to be replaced, or do you stand outside of it, believing the system we have just needs a good tweaking?

I own majority share in a company (Centratel) with 30 employees and my wants and needs are typical of the other 23,000,000 business owners in this country. The media is correct in saying we business owners are hoarding cash because we’re fearful. Yup. We’re hunkered down and we’ll sit here motionless until there is stability, predictability and customers.

It’s our hope that on November 2nd there will be evidence of  “the change we’ve been waiting for.” (Sarcasm intended.)

From the systems mindset perspective, I’m going to tell you what bothers me about the U.S. economic/government system. Those of you who have jobs, take heed as I explain exactly why we business owners are holding back. And if you work for a government agency – I suppose you deserve  some kind of dispensation for living in a nether world – you should also pay attention here. You may be in the private sector soon, that is if people of my ilk have our way and the size of government is dramatically reduced.

My credentials? I started in my teens swamping other people’s toilets, digging ditches and scrubbing restaurant kitchen pots. In my 20’s and early 30’s I belonged to a variety of trade unions; worked for the state on New York and then the federal government. Add another couple of dozen down-and-dirty occupations including millworker, logger and retail store clerk. Now, at  60 I’m a job producer via a company I created from scratch in 1984. I work two hours a week and inhabit that dastardly realm of the top 1% of income earners. Efficiency is the name of my game, and I blanch at the dearth of  it in government. No jest, Mr. Obama could have used a man like me.

Our government systems are dysfunctional to the point of crippling our individual lives. But hidden beneath the swirl of bloated inefficiency is a wonderfully simple and efficient guiding system that has provided freedom and wealth to generation after generation. Now we need to again heed that documented  guidance system and get to the work of simplfying the government systems that surround and engulf us. This can be fixed!

But for now, here’s why we’re not hiring or investing in infrastructure:

1)     Taxes. How much will the government want next year? Is more than half of what I earn not enough?  Why take risk if most of the profit is to be confiscated?

2)     Nearly 50% of our population pays no income tax. It was 30% in the mid 80’s and 40% by the year 2000.  Not a healthy trend.

3)     Regulations. Too many, with more on the way. Check this out. (Reading this is worth the effort to trial-subscribe to the on-line Wall Street Journal)

4)     Cap and Trade: Will it happen? If so, more taxes.

5)     Card-check and the elimination of state right-to-work laws in 22 states. This is what I fear the most. Centratel will be unionized. If that happens, I’m getting out.

6)      Health care. Good God, what’s up with that? More cost, more regulation.

7)      Class warfare. The federal government’s executive branch habitually points fingers, and “business” is the latest and greatest demon, even as it generates tax revenue to fuel the very government that demonizes it. Insane!

8)      Increased arrogance at all levels of government.

9)      Considering the current incredible waste and inefficiency of government, just how much more abuse can our economic system withstand? No individual, family or business could operate in this way and survive.

10)   Indisputable: Government is more interested in enhancing its revenue than in cutting its spending.

11)   Could societal breakdown be on the horizon? Yes, in your heart  you know it could. Consider France and Greece.

From a systems mindset standpoint, it’s clear that government systems are too intrusive; too big, taking the driver’s seat with the economic engine shoved into the rear seat. This is backwards. The economy is the primary system– the producer of jobs, goods and services – not the various government entities which are better kept small, responsible only for certain regulatory and minimal service/protection roles.  Back in the early years, I experienced this kind of hijacking in my business:  Although Centratel’s purpose is to take and deliver messages and make a profit at it, a new bookkeeper was, over the course of a year, able to make the company about bookkeeping. The force of her personality thrust the reason for the business  to the background in favor of her specialty! I had the same experience with two successive IT technicians as they built esoteric, too-powerful empires within the company. Centratel became about IT issues! In a business, department subsystems should never rule the primary system. So it is with business and government: Government must only play a supporting role.

When a subsystem takes charge, it’s always bad news for the primary system.

Those of you buying into the party line that corporations, medical organizations, insurance companies, etc. are the root of the problem might consider that all of the above are entities made up of people, people both good and bad. Just like in your neighborhood. The overall problem is not in the people. The problem is in the system in which they operate.

Over the years we’ve allowed the system dysfunction to grow and now we’re paying the price. What to do? Vote for simplicity next Tuesday, remembering that our personal lives and the economy constitute the primary system and that government is only a subsystem. As I said at the beginning, there’s room for optimism. Make yourself heard on November 2nd and let’s start turning this great ship around.
(Here are past posts with similar themes: Political Extinctions, Deflation, Inflation and the Beast I won’t buy,  and Economic Dysfunction: The Systems Mindset Dissection)

Photo by Tilemhos Efthimiadis via flickr used under a creative Commons License.
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