For most of 2011, national lawmakers in Washington, DC have invested what seems to have been the vast majority of their time, and our attention, on the need to get the debt ceiling raised and the nation’s revenues and expenses aligned. Meanwhile, the economy flounders because business executives in the United States, and increasingly globally, have little or no confidence in the direction or stability of the legal and economic arena. Uncertainty like that makes strategic investing in jobs and in job-creating expansion risky and seemingly unwise. The debt ceiling crisis is a symptom of a much more difficult problem, the mismatch between overspending and too little revenue.
Political rhetoric out of Washington, DC is simply lip service meant to placate the itching ears of the electorate. Politicians have devolved into re-election machines focused on the next election cycle as soon as the last one is over. Most members of the U.S. House and Senate simply have no experience or education that would allow them to create effective policy for most of the topics they must address. So, with no basis for for developing, debating, and implementing effective solutions to the problems the nation needs them to address, elected and appointed decision makers in Washington seem inclined to simply parrot back the words the electorate and self-serving advisors and lobbyists beg them to say.
A full 25% of elected members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate have no work experience outside of elected office. They get elected and re-elected because that is what they know how to do. Another 25% are attorneys, but most of them know nothing about job creation and getting the economy moving, other than the potential knowledge and experience of legal matters related to employment and business expansion.
Creating jobs and growing the economy requires one element missing from the U.S economy today; that missing link is the willingness to risk. The uncertainty created by the Washington bureaucratic machine is a consequence of a leadership void and the absence of a rudder and a keel for the ship of state and the barge of business. Until people in positions of leadership take the risk associated with actually leading, investors and business executives will continue to hoard cash and pursue hard assets rather than doing the dance they have all learned called entrepreneurship, innovation, and business and economic growth. Attempts at economic recovery may continue to prove comparatively fruitless in an environment lacking leadership and brimming over with uncertainty.
Written August 3, 2011 on the road to Halong Bay from Hanoi, Vietnam