"The most significant threat to our national security is our debt," Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, August 27, 2010

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Empire Cuts Back

It is common knowledge that the European countries which are facing the consequences of decades of fiscal promiscuity are politically addicted to:
·         excessive deficit government spending
·         very high portion of their GDP sourced to government activities
·         high public employment as a percent of overall employed workforce
·         a direct tie in between a labor/liberal or socialist leaning political party and public employee unions
·         numerous rules and laws which promote and benefit said corrupt tie in, and
·         public employment wages/benefits/pension plans well in excess of those in the private sector

The situation is similar to the American scenario of Democrats and their undying allegiance to certain union constituencies – teachers, educators, health care workers, police and all sorts of bureaucrats.  This corrupt alliance, in total disregard to the well being of American taxpayers, between the American Democrat political party and the SEIU, AFSCME, NEA, AFT and AFL-CIO is America’s inconvenient truth.  It produces the debt disaster that now threatens America’s strong world economic standing.

One hundred years ago, the strong world economic presence was England.  Britain dominated global politics – diplomatic and military politics and it was the original 24/7 global commercial/industrial enterprise.  Worldwide.  Long before McDonalds spread across the globe; or Boeing; or Siemens; or Royal Dutch Shell; or Coca-Cola; or soccer. The sun never set on the British Empire.

So what went wrong?  Well, you know.  Some upstarts came along.  The natives got restless.  America built its own empire and a few wars redistributed some balance of power positions.  In a few words, times changed.  But there was one other notable feature accompanying all these other changes that is seldom, if ever, addressed.

The British built a massive bureaucracy designed to do whatever the politicians deemed necessary to oversee and manage the global reach of their 24/7 empire.  We don’t know why it must be this way but it is.  Whenever five or more of us gather and think we’ve got a better idea; a new handle on the way things are; a different view of how things are going to be or should be, we immediately set up a committee and appoint a friendly face to hire some more people and accumulate rules and tell others what they can and cannot do.  This is in our DNA; it may be one of those things that cannot be changed except by someone with great perseverance, great outlook and spectacular wisdom.  Few of us are so endowed.  It is just a lot easier to build a bureaucracy than stay personally involved when things become a bit complicated.  One last observation about this inexplicable need of humans – this need to build bureaucracies.  It may be nature’s way.    Obviously nature has one key action plan to bring about change.  It’s called death. It may just be that nature balances this natural occurrence – death, with the very unnatural occurrence – bureaucracy building, because it is seemingly impossible to kill off a bureaucracy once established.  But, guess who is taking on the task?

The very same folk who built a massive bureaucracy many decades ago – the British Empire.

Britain has two dominants political parties and a couple of minor ones (by the way, if you are into prognostication, any study of this British disparate political party situation will provide at least some food for thought for a glance into the future of American politics) and the voters tossed out the party with the ties to the bureaucracy (Labor) and their unions and they almost had the spine to fully elect a group that had the vision and the commitment and the perseverance to take on the bureaucracy.  Almost because who knows what will happen given that the new guys did not quite get a majority and they had to align with one of the minor parties to form a coalition to govern and the minor party doesn’t have the same level of commitment to the bureaucracy destroying mission underway.

In two years, less time than the hope and change guy has been in power in the US of A, this coalition has taken the direct government employment (call them bureaucrats) in Britain from 6,353,000 in September 2009 down to 5,987,000 in September 2011.  Rather remarkable.  During the same period, the private sector employment rose from 22,539,000 to 23,120,000.   (Source:  www.ons.gov.uk )  Rather remarkable considering the overall economic situation in Britain, Europe and the US.   The Labor party in Britain, the guys who got tossed out a couple of years ago, are whining, wailing, weeping and generally acting like children while the adults are trying to rebuild a stronger base for future growth.  Pretty?   Of course not.  Anyone really happy about the situation?  Of course not.  But it’s called taking your medicine and, yes, it can be done.

But don’t expect it to come from those who repeat the nonsense of the past and cover it up with words like hope and change.  Hope has nothing to do with it and change requires discipline and discipline requires some small portion of sacrifice and frugality.

America appears to be where Britain was some decades ago – lacking in discipline and committed to building bureaucracies rather than the hard work of responsible management.  The other European countries – Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, and Greece have simply said they would rather wallow in their accumulated waste than cleanse out the bowels of their bloated bureaucracies.  We say bully for David Cameron and his conservative party in Britain for giving it a go. 

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