DICK BAYNTON: The Problem of Power

Dick Baynton

Presidents, Governors, Prime Ministers and legislators accumulate power by (usually) winning elections to perform services for fellow citizens. Becoming one of the above-mentioned leaders might be compared with the metamorphosis of a moth or butterfly that has once been an egg, then a larva, a pupa and an adult. Those are the steps that butterflies and moths go through according to entomologists.

Government leaders usually arise from local or regional political posts, either elected or appointed, then pass through the ranks of state and national posts and then are honored by voters to become their leaders. All government posts, elective, appointed or career should be considered sacred. The reason is that every government job carries with it the responsibility for the welfare of voters and all citizens and their territory whether a village, city, county, borough, township, parish or state.

Most government jobs require an oath of honesty and integrity that is as solemn as the oaths agreed to by physicians, lawyers and other professionals. Those who make such commitments should be called statesmen and/or stateswomen (political correctness). All government jobs have ‘job descriptions’ that are supposed to keep the office or job-holder inside the guard rails of constitutional, federal, state and local statutes. All decisions should be made within the bounds of these laws in addition to ethical standards that have been developed and followed over time.

In accord with ‘The Peter Principle’ as observed by Professor Laurence J. Peter (1919-1990), states that, ‘In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his (her) level of incompetence.’ This is a reminder that we all have our limitations. And it is at this juncture when we realize that many workers in government and private industry are wading in the swamp of performance beyond their competence.

If it were not true, there would be fewer bankruptcies in private enterprise and in government our nation would not have national debt of $21 trillion, a postal service that loses billions each year, a social security program that is under-funded, a welfare system that is going broke, and an expensive healthcare program that burns through cash like a California forest fire.

Our government and private employees, top to bottom are fiduciaries (trustees) of our financial resources. We expect to buy a good car at a fair price that allows the manufacturer to pay its people well and generate a profit for expansion and development. By the same token, we expect our government people to plan, execute and follow-up on all expenditures so those of us who pay taxes are getting a reasonable bargain. And it is here that the foot meets the firewall and the rubber meets the road; some of our leaders have the talent to win elections but lack the ability to perform the services required of their jobs and their promises.

The title of today’s column is “The Problem of “Power.” Since 1997 for example, congress has paid out more than $17 million in workplace claims (harassment) by their own members as allowed under a 1995 law. Do we realize that congressmen and women and their thousands of staff members have a more favorable healthcare plan than you and I have? Do we realize that for many years, our federal legislators have authorized and paid their own increases in salary and benefits? These legislators have the use of airplanes and other conveyances to take junkets that perhaps have only marginal value in oversight of government activities.

Power in elevated positions of influence in both private industry and government has many important responsibilities. The most important is decision making/problem solving. Here’s a hint about decision making and problem solving; if these issues are supposedly solved by oration, they are not being solved. If these problems are blamed on others, they are not being solved. If the results of the oration and blame game are the same as they were before the oration and blame assignments, creativity, compromise and solutions are not occurring. In our government today, that is what’s happening.

Negotiation must be a two-way street; negotiation is a dead-end street if one side makes offers and the opposition simply says no. This is not called gridlock; this is called malfeasance, malevolence and turpitude. Elected officials who wallow in the slime of these condemnations activate the devious power of evil, not freedom and liberty.

Dick Baynton

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