Category Archives: complexity

  Corruption and Democracy

 

 

The Professor was pleased with his class. It might be the best class I have ever had. All eight students are learning how to think outside the box and are articulate in presenting their views. Today, I’ll do the work. He looked over his class, notebooks open and wondering what the topic would be today. Half the fun of teaching was keeping the students guessing. He doubted that any of them were thinking about the impact of corruption on the democratic process.

The Professor walked over to the floor to ceiling window and looked out over the Bay. He loved the view and felt he did his best thinking staring out over the ever-changing scene. The feeling was humbling. His mind rambled over questions he wasn’t equipped to answer and never would be. Existence, origin, change without change, the meshing of infinite forces, all forever beyond human understanding, helped him put his role into perspective. Pushing those thoughts into the background of his mind, he said, “Democracy and the freedom it allows are not guaranteed. It was crafted by some very brave and thoughtful people who did their best to protect the governing process they had fought for. Democracy is constantly assailed by powerful forces. We have talked about some of those. The danger of the growth in size and scope of government, the inroads on the ‘rule of law,’ the limits on the freedom of individuals to achieve their own goals, and the breakdown of the checks and balances enumerated in the Constitution.

“Today, I want to talk about a more insidious danger to democracy. Corruption in the political process of governing, I believe, today is a very great danger to democracy and the freedom it needs to exist. Our founders knew there would always be greedy people seeking power and wealth by getting around the restraints imposed by following the law and regulatory procedures. There are several examples of abuse by elected and appointed officials in our history.

“When corruption is found, it must be destroyed. Otherwise, it is like a cancer and will spread throughout public and private organizations. Corruption begins when people believe they cannot achieve their selfish goals without putting themselves above the law. Whether this is a result of personal or ideological goals, it is still corruption and must be harshly dealt with. When the governed lose faith and trust in their leaders, the existing government will fall.

“Your assignment for our next class is to identify an instance of corruption in our government and present your solution to the problem. I do not want a term paper, just a short oral presentation and discussion.”

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The Professor and Political Realities



conference-1330110_1280“Before I give you a short lecture on what I call ‘political realities,’ here is your assignment for our next class. Now that you are divided into two groups, each supporting either the conservative side or liberal side, each group must prepare a ten-minute speech and a TV ad. The group’s representative will deliver the speech. Visual aids are allowed, but it is the effectiveness of the message that counts.

“We have political parties because people want, or believe they want, something different from what they have now, while others want to defend and develop the existing way of governing. When you view politics for this perspective, you can identify basic issues and beliefs. I haven’t found many people to agree with my analysis, but I believe it to be accurate. You, of course, may disagree, but you must be able to defend your group’s position.

“I believe the drive toward centralization of nearly everything is rooted in the DNA of civilization. The motive of this need to seek centralization would probably be a good thing, if the process had some limit. But it does not. It continues until centralization reaches the breaking point where constant centralization creates an unmanageable entity. The need to have or, at least, to believe the process has created a controllable management structure where a small group of elites can create a better life for all by reaching the point where management is responsible to the will of the people sounds like a very desirable outcome.

“Unfortunately, it is not. The Department of Homeland Security is a good example. After the terrorist attack on 9/11, in a laudable intent to secure future safety by improving management accountability and effectiveness, several organizations that were already too big for effective management were combined. However, I think only the priests of centralization believe the head of DHS can or is improving security. The more likely result is that most of his time and energy are expended in trying to find out what is going on in his empire and how to satisfy the requirements of the president and Congress. Nevertheless, now that one person is in charge, the pushers of centralization believe improvements in security will routinely occur even with the almost weekly examples of bumbling by the managers of airport security. From the time of unwritten history, the Roman Empire’s rise and fall, to the present day, the process of centralization continues, modified only by the undeniable failure of a society, civilization, or a national government. This process can be found behind the constant failure of socialist nations.

“Behind the scenes battle the ‘founders and the guardians.’ This theme is easier to explain because it can be observed in both the public and private sector. The keywords are founders and guardians. Organizations in the beginning of their histories can point to the people who were the founders. With maturation, nearly all organizations slowly, but inexorably, move into the control of the guardians. These well-meaning, good people use the power of process to protect and perpetuate the organization they inherited. Process expertise does not involve the understanding or the furtherance of the founder’s mission, it is solely concerned with the way the mission is accomplished. You have all seen them. They are the enablers of the units who focus on personnel management, accounting, logistics, communications, and finance. Good people all and their skills are needed and respected.

But they should not supplant the line mission leaders. The downside is the effect of their process requirements on the effectiveness and direction of the line mission of the unit. Seldom can a person with process skills actually lead people engaged in the primary mission of the organization they serve. Yet this process affects all organizations, private and public.

My third theme is the most important. The Constitution, the Bill of Rights, our founders, the separations of powers, and the blood and sweat of our ancestors all combine to make America a very special place. All of these elements rest on the ‘rule of law.’ When an administration like President Obama’s disregards the rule of law, they are trashing the very core of America’s existence.

The rule of law doesn’t provide total equality for all people. Slogans spouting sound bytes such as “a fair shot for everyone,” “equal opportunity for all,” and “everyone deserves a fair share” are the false promises that permeate socialist speeches. The rule of law does, however, provide equal protection under the law from the arbitrary excesses of government and the protection of life and property by the government. This protection must be provided equally to all citizens, all the time, regardless of wealth, economic stature, race, religion, or political position. Justice must be blind in its application to all. When it is not, our society will begin to unravel, for the rule of law is what holds our nation together. It is what finally triumphed over evils like slavery, racial and religious discrimination, and inequality of opportunity to be all you can be. This is unique to America. It did not arrive here with our waves of immigrants. Instead, it is what brought them to take the risks of moving to a new land.

“Ponder these three themes. Use them or develop your own. But you must be able to identify what is behind the sound bytes of our political parties. Class is over. See you all next week.”

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INSIGHTS 232 — CREATING CLASS WARFARE

Advisor's vault doorThe President had been so forthcoming during their last session, the Advisor thought, I’ve often wondered what the President knows about financial policies. Maybe, if he seems in a good mood, I’ll ask him to help me understand what he is trying to accomplish.

The soft buzzing of the warning the President is on his way sounded and the Advisor hurried to get prepared. Fresh coffee, a clean ashtray, and a freshly polished gleaming table top all set the stage for another of the unbelievable sessions he had been having with the President.

When the President was ready to begin, the Advisor asked, “Mr. President, with your permission, I would like to devote some time to understanding your financial policy.”

“Please go ahead. Financial policy is critical in the transformation process.”

“The basic principle of your transformation process seems to be the re-distribution of wealth from the haves to the have-nots. Yet, just the opposite is occurring. The people who have the money to invest in the stock market have done well while those who cannot participate in the buying and selling of stocks, commodities, and other securities are falling farther behind.”

“The redistribution of wealth is a complicated process. You have described only one step in the process. Yes, the income gap is widening. And it will continue to do so. I cannot move the United States from capitalism to socialism and state ownership of the means of production without first creating a large angry group of people. I am doing that by deliberately stimulating the stock market while depressing the capitalistic economy through taxation and constant regulations. The majority of Americans are not investors and depend on a growing economy to prosper. As this majority loses wealth in an economy that is far weaker than the numbers we release indicate, they will become more and more strident. ‘Occupy Wall Street’ was just the warmup. When the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, the country is ripe for a Progressive take over.

” You and 99 percent of the people are focused on the issue of growing the economy. I have used financial policies to create a large majority of Americans who see no downside in changing a failing capitalistic system for a socialist system that will greatly reduce the income gap. You see, ‘the issue is never the issue.’ I talk about doing everything I can to help the middle class. In fact, I’m destroying the middle class. They are an obstacle in the creation of a progressive system of government. I want only two classes, the growing class of have-nots and the rich who are the enemy.

“No party can overthrow a strong government with a historical belief in the power of capitalism and the free market. Progressive change depends on class warfare. There is no other way. We may need two more terms of progressive leadership of the American government before progressive socialism will be a welcome change. The more the Republican Party identifies with capitalism and the free market, the more they provide us with a perfect enemy. In my government there will be no place for people who resist socialism. It may be a good thing that I never closed Guantanamo Bay.”

“So, Mr. President, you do not believe the stock market is a true indicator of the economy?”

“No. And it has been a very long time since you could evaluate economic growth by the success of the Wall Street game. I hope that helps you understand how transformation works. If you’re still alive you may be the first person I send to Gitmo. You are just too intelligent and crafty to be running around in the world above this cave. Goodnight.”

 

 

 

 

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INSIGHTS 199 — A WORD TO LIBERALS

I think I know how to talk to a liberal because I once was one.

Of course, that was before the progressives took over the Democratic Party and moved it so far left it would be right at home in Russia, China, or Cuba. No, it is not repressive enough yet for those bastions of central planning and re-education camps. But unless the more centralist members of the party retake control, a one-party system with increasing repression is coming.

I left the Democratic Party because I saw their fixation on the application of Keynesian economics was just not working and it doesn’t take years of pondering to see that growing the size and scope of government beyond absolute needs doesn’t in itself solve problems. Many times it only makes things worse by drafting and implementing more and more regulations.

It is not only the Democrats that grow government. There are big government Republicans who are just as culpable in the increasing size and scope of government. Two of the worse examples occurred with a Republican White House.

After Sept. 11, 2001, President Bush created two large and, I believe, nearly useless bureaucracies: the Department Of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Director of National Intelligence (DNI). Everyone was in shock over 9/11 and were making frantic efforts to fix whatever problems prevented us from thwarting this historical terrorist event. It is in our DNA to centralize anything at the slightest opportunity. When things go wrong, “Put someone in charge.” Is the cry that echoes across the land. The fact is that someone was already in charge but didn’t make the right choices or put their own agency’s interests over that of the nation. Replacing these people and changing the bureaucratic nature of their organization was what should have been done. We should not have put many diverse organizations that were already on the edge of being nearly unmanageable due to size and complexity under a single new manager. Adding layers of management seldom has improved anything.

Big government and its sister, centralization, is at the core of all socialist systems. Republicans and Democrats are both at fault. I can’t blame the Progressives for growing and centralizing the size and scope of government. It is what they do. It is their mantra. Leaving the Saul Alinsky followers and other Progressives aside under leaders like President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Elizabeth Warren, it might be possible for traditional Democrats and Republicans to have real discussions.

I believe a starting point for dialogue to save our country is to use the following principles as a foundation for cooperation:

  • Honesty and openness in the conduct of government;
  • Peace comes through the prudent use and display of strength;
  • A foreign policy that is loyal to our allies and respected by our enemies;
  • A recognition that freedom is not free;
  • We are an exceptional nation based on the rule of law;
  • Tax rich more than others, but everyone pays something in some way;
  • Corruption has no place in our government or in our economy;
  • The civil service must not be political and public workers should not organize against the people;
  • We can be judged on how we treat our children, the sick, the poor, the elderly, and our veterans;
  • A nonpartisan and objective media is a necessary part of our democracy;
  • We are a nation of immigrants and will always welcome newcomers who obey our laws and learn our language, history, and culture.

 

“ISIS Quiet Justice,” a new Jack Brandon novel dealing with ISIS in America, is now available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble in print form and nook and kindle formats.

 

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INSIGHTS 185 — DANGEROUS DELUSIONS ( A response to the State of the Union)

As President Obama faced the audience for his State of the Union address, did he note that there were 80-plus more Republicans in the seats than there were when he took office? The change was one of historical significance. I don’t think he noticed.

But maybe he just doesn’t care. His attitude varied between confidence and arrogance. It takes real chutzpah to threaten vetoes and more of the same progressive programs when operating from a weakened presidency. He won’t work to solve any of the nation’s problems or issues because that is not what he does nor has he ever. Issues are to be used to destroy the opposition and bring about the progressive transformation of America.

This president believes that the American people are really dumb. Who is a better judge of how the economy is going, a man who isolates himself from reality or everyday people who have to struggle to pay their bills and plan to take care of their families? The administration’s unemployment figures are useful only if you are trying to deceive people. Wages have been stagnant for years. No matter what the progressives preach, wages do not improve until employers are competing among each other for workers. Increasing the minimum wage increases the cost of doing business — it does not create jobs. In fact, employers struggling to save their businesses often lay workers off to pay the mandated higher wages for current workers.

Today there is not much workplace competition for college graduates. Maybe less than 50 percent of recent graduates have been offered jobs commensurate with their new skills. These young, ambitious graduates know the economy is still in trouble. Beside an increase in the minimum wage, Obama’s proposal to help the economy is to create more graduates by offering two free years at a community college. This proposal would actually make sense if done on the state level and produced workers needed in industries located in the state. The last thing American people need is more federal management of their personal and work lives. Let the states work with local business to create curricula that actually help graduates get jobs. This proposal, like all other progressive proposals, has at its core the re-distribution of wealth.

How can he complain about the failure of Congress to pass legislation when the majority leader in the Senate, Harry Reid,  with the president’s approval, prevented hundreds of bills from reaching the Senate floor for debate and a subsequent vote? No bill was brought up for a vote unless it was one the president wanted to sign! This is not a secret. Only a president who lives in a different universe than we do could possibly believe Americans do not know the story about Harry Reid and his refusal to allow bills to reach the Senate floor.

A quick look at Obama’s  foreign policy statements. He stated our military has stopped the expansion of ISIS. Simply not true. He said Russia is in economic trouble because of America’s quiet diplomacy at work. False. Russia is in trouble because it depends solely on the money from a single export product, oil. When Saudi Arabia opened up their oil pumps to glut the market and drive down the price of oil to damage their competitors, Russia, Iran, ISIS, Venezuela, and America, who cannot afford to sell oil at or below the Saudi price. Russia’s economic problem has nothing to do with anything Obama said or did.

Another delusion is that we are not at war with terrorism by Islamic jihadists. Islam is not a peaceful religion. Extremists can find approval for their actions in the Koran. As long as the millions of Muslims, living in peace with the West, do not check their extremists our commander-in-chief must recognize the predominate role Islam plays in worldwide terrorism. The president touts his success in combating “extremists” in Yemen at the same time U.S. warships are moving toward Yemen’s coastline to evacuate Americans.

Obama’s infatuation with climate change and its link to human activity is simply that, an infatuation with a scheme that would redistribute wealth on a global scene. Does anyone, besides the president, believe China will live up to its promise to reduce carbon emissions 15 years from now?

Even more troubling are his statements that negotiations now underway with Iran have stopped the Iranian drive to develop nuclear weapons. That would be wonderful if there was even a 20 percent chance of that being correct. But it is not. Iran’s leaders believe their national interest as a power in the Middle East and the world depends on them having a nuclear weapons capability. All they need is time and the bumbling negotiating team under Obama/Kerry are giving Iran the time. Obama vows he will veto any standby sanctions on Iran voted by Congress. Believing negotiations can stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons is is a dangerous delusion. A nuclear-capable Iran puts the world at more danger than at any time during the Cold War era. The next two years will be very hard on America and very dangerous to a leaderless world. Do we have to learn again that peace is found in strength not weak compromises and delusional ranting?

(If you’re interested, here is my response to another Obama State of the Union. Click here.)

Written by the author of the Jack Brandon thriller/mystery novels and “Insights: Transforming America — Is This What We Fought For?” available now as an e-book, in paperback or hardcover on Amazon.com or BN.com. Another analytical book on the transforming process, “Insights: Stepping Stones to Tyranny,” is now published and available in paperback at $9.95 and on nook and kindle at $6.99. Follow the author on Twitter @factsfictions80. 

 

 

 

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EIGHT DECADES OF INSIGHTS 75-THE ADVISOR

FOREIGN POLICY?

greendoor

The President had just entered the Advisor’s underground office. It was a surprise visit. The Advisor was alerted that  the President was on his way down to the tunnel between the White House and the Treasury Department. The Advisor’s office was off an unused and restricted branch off the main tunnel. Access to the Advisor and the secret location was now controlled by the Secret Service. The existence of the Advisor and his location was the best-kept secret in the nation.

The President took his customary seat at the small conference table and said, “I need to clear my thinking about Syria and foreign policy in general. I don’t really like your advice but it does help me think through through problems.”

Mr. President, my mission is to help you. If my advice helps your thinking about problems, that’s good. What specifically do you want to cover tonight?”

“A few weeks ago you asked me what I meant by the phrase, ‘Transform America.’ Telling you my thoughts re transformation clarified my thinking. Today I want to talk about my vision of America in the world.”

“I’m the smallest audience a President ever had for such a topic. I am honored. Please, your audience is ready.”

“People say I came to the White House with very little experience. To some extent that is true. My actual experience with managing huge organizations or in leadership roles is nonexistent. But I bring  other skills no other President had. I was a practicing Muslim when I was very young. It is a very different religion from Christianity or any other world religion. More is expected from the believer. Free thinking is discouraged. There was no reformation in Islam. The individual, the family, and the Nation are all one. Islamic law is the law. Religion and country are not separate. I am no longer a Muslim but I know what they feel and think. I doubt if any previous President could make that statement.

“My father was not an American. He was a true  Kenyan nationalist, as was his family. They did not sit around and hope things would  change. They worked and struggled for change. To me change is part of the result of hope and struggle. I understand the process. I was also exposed to collectivist theology when I was very young.

“To me the sacrifice of individualism or the freedom of the individual must give way to the greater good of collectivism. You may think that this is a strange way to explain my foreign policy objectives. But it isn’t. In place of the individual put a single nation state. Now what is different? The freedom of a single nation must give way to the collectivist’s better world. America has dominated the world since World War II. The only change is that America became more powerful and wealthy while the rest of the world fell far behind. When I came to power the United States was the only super power.

“I believe that is wrong. It is wrong for an individual or a group of individuals to control wealth and power in a single country just as it is wrong for one nation to control more than its fair share of the world’s resources and power.

“My foreign policy plan is to gradually spread America’s wealth to other nations and to slowly weaken the power of the United States military to dominate the world. I do not want America to become energy self-sufficient.

“There will be no pipeline bringing oil from Canada to our refineries. Canada does need more wealth. The Muslim world does. If they cannot sell their oil, they will be lost.  Buying oil from OPEC, borrowing money from China, climate control and Cap and Trade, pushing our manufacturing to other countries, keeping taxes high – all these policies are spreading America’s wealth. Domestically my goal is to destroy the ability of families to accumulate great wealth. Very high death taxes are the way to do that. But back to foreign policy.

“When we become a more humanitarian, less wealthy nation and reduce our stockpile of conventional and nuclear weapons, other nations will be more willing to join with us to better the entire population of the world. In theory the same process and theory used to spread the wealth among the American population, can be used to spread America’s wealth throughout the world. One world, one people, one God is not an idle dream. I know I can’t achieve all this in three more years but a series of Progressive Presidents, and Congresses can. I have always known I was a citizen of the world. What do you think?”

“Mr. President, if that is your dream, it doesn’t matter what I think.”

“No. I need to hear your comments.”

“You must know that what you have described is not new. It is an Utopian plan that has been tried in both small- scale models within the United States and in countries such as, Russia, China, Germany, Cuba, Eastern Europe, a few nations in Africa, and England. When people see the Utopia they sacrificed for, they haven’t liked what they saw. The problem is Collectivism requires management by an elite, chosen by whatever process. The management challenge presented by collectivization is too great for any elite structure.

All elites in history who have had total control over the economy, the people, the courts, police, and military have succumbed to corruption. The term power elite describes the problem. Mr. President, look at your own Administration. It is an elitist structure. Where is the transparency you promised? You are an elitist yourself. You know what is good for the people better than they do. ‘They will not be able to understand Ben Ghazi. So why tell them?’ All the unprecedented incursions of individual freedoms by Executive decree, the disdain you have shown for the Constitution and the courts. Your unwillingness to work with the Congress.

“I see I’ve struck a nerve. I am not trying to insult you, but I am trying to cause you to rethink collectivism as a goal, domestically and internationally. You may have some immediate successes but I fear failure will be your final result with great damage to the America you were elected to guide.”

“I thought you, as an old black man, would understand what I’m trying to do.”

“Someday, I’ll tell you my story. Thank you, Mr. President for being so honest with me. I do have your best interests as my mission.”

The President finished his coffee, stabbed out his cigarette and let himself out.

The author has 27 years of Government service, including two years serving President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s as an

Meeting with President Reagan, Vice President Bush, Deputy National Security Adviser Frank Carlucci and General Colin Powell in the Oval Office.

advisor. Considering today’s volatile political situation, you are encouraged to share this on Facebook and to click the “like” button below. Comments and dialogue are welcome.

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EIGHT DECADES OF INSIGHTS 32

Management of Complexity

Management of Complexity (Photo credit: michael.heiss)

THE REAL BI-PARTISAN ISSUE

Nearly every day I hear someone saying, “I can’t believe what I just heard the administration is doing.” If there ever was a bi-partisan statement, this is it. Democrats or Republicans, it makes no difference when it comes to dumbness.

English: Seal of the United States Department ...

English: Seal of the United States Department of Homeland Security. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Since the first days of  centralized authority, government dumbness has been with us. In the last 150 years, the level of government centralization has steadily grown to levels that jeopardize the continued development of our civilization. The roots of centralization have been nurtured by an explosion of progress in the transmission and processing of information. Good thing? Maybe yes. But many good things have dangerous side effects.

It is usually true, the closer a leader or manager is to a situation or problem, the more they know about the facts and can fix the problem or recommend a wise course of action. A hallmark of an effective leader and manager is their ability to put a premium on the advice from ‘people on the ground.’ As governments have moved more toward centralization, managers have been moved further and further from people on the ground. There are myriad management levels between the point of contact with the situation or problem and the top-level decision maker. Government managers, in my favorite example, of the Department of Homeland Security, are several light years beyond their span of control. While I don’t think the recent and current heads of Homeland Security are exemplary managers or leaders, no human can do more than pretend they can manage something as large and diverse as Homeland Security or the Intelligence Community or a number of other government agencies and departments.

You see, the  catalyst of expanding centralization is the speed of information transmission and processing. Managers believe because they can communicate they can understand and manage. This is a dangerous illusion. How well did Presidents Johnson and Nixon, Secretary of Defense McNamara, and later National Security Advisor Kissinger personally manage the Vietnam War? Not well. I was there and read many of their directives. Some verged on comic relief.

A few organs of government like the Defense Department and NASA have been able to somewhat mitigate the downside of centralization because at all levels, except the very top, managers come from men and women on their way up the management ladder. They and their staffs can receive and understand the flow of information. They understand the culture. In a sense they have all been there, done that. I believe the only remedy to the downsides of centralization is to ensure organizations are made up nearly entirely of men and women who have had a deep immersion in various mission levels of their organization and to decentralize those departments and agencies that have an impossible scope of attention and management for anyone. Letting the states manage their own affairs according to the Constitution will check rampant centralization. This is truly a bi-partisan issue.

By the author of the Jack Brandon Thriller Series.

http://www.factsandfictions.com

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