Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Failure of Change

There is a lot of soul searching, finger pointing, and just plain angst over the loss of Ted Kennedy's Senate seat. All of it - the Senate loss, the Tea Party Movement, and current polling results - may be the result of the Failure of Change.
Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek. ~ Barack Obama, Feb. 5 2008
Corporate management bookshelves are filled with tomes on why change fails and how to overcome the powerful force of organizational inertia. The most striking thing about the Obama Administration is how similar it is to the Bush Administration. The backbeat is certainly different but the song is the same.

The Gitmo Prison crimes continue. The wars not only continue but continue to grow and continue to consume both money and men. Bankers and stockbrokers continue to steal from shareholders and taxpayers with not just the acquiescence but the active help of government. Health Care Reform entered the sausage grinder of Congress and came out a stinking mess. The economy and employment continues to stagger between Depression and stagnation.

This is not to imply that Barack Obama does not want the change he spoke of. What happened is that each time he attempted to implement a change in direction for the country the headwinds were too strong and he was blown back on the wrong course. Examples:
  • Obama Closed Gitmo. He ordered it closed by tomorrow. Yet Gitmo stays open because Newton's Laws of Motion applies to societies as well as physics. The inertia to keep Gitmo unchanged was stronger than then effort to close it.
  • Iraq and Afghanistan. Senior officers need active wars to get medals.
    Businesses need active wars to get their multi-billion dollar contracts. Politicians are infinitely more afraid of being blamed for ending a war than being blamed for starting one. The result is, last month President Barack Obama gave a speech that Candidate Obama would have vigorously condemned. He gave a Nobel Peace Prize speech defending war.
  • TARP. While the rules set in February 2009 were not harsh they were nonetheless rules. Top tier bankers are used to setting onerous conditions on borrowers, they don't like following rules themselves. One by one the rules have been neutered, negated, or ignored. Even the most frivolous corporate outings have been declared vital to economic recovery.
  • Health Care Reform. Don't get me started on what has happened to that except to remember the old saying that anyone who loves sausage or the law should never see either one being made.
  • Economy. Efforts to boost the economy, especially employment, have failed in large part by through concerted Republican efforts to block everything on the theory that four years of Depression will mean a Republican landslide in 2012.
Unlike all those writers and corporate consultants, I don't have any advice on how bring change to a government that seems locked on a course into the rocks. I know what needs to happen. Democrats in Congress, especially in the Senate, need to lock up their egos and shelve their individuality. If President Obama can accomplish that he can skip past any future Nobel prizes and go straight to sainthood.
We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately. ~ Ben Franklin 1776

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