Monday, February 28, 2011

“Will Our Leaders Lead?” ~ by Dr. James Vandermark

Your coverage of the battle of balancing the budget has been informative. Clearly, the issue we face is not only balancing the budget (living within one’s means) but also reducing our national debt! I concur that the public structure has far too long spent money they could ill afford to spend (due to the simple process: spend less than one takes in). Such spending shows an unhealthy political pattern of ineptness when it comes to spending. With such pattern comes a lack of trust in areas of fiduciary responsibility. In my opinion, this is one reason for the lack of political involvement (voting polls) and support by citizens. So, I ask, ‘will our leaders lead?’

Regrettably, our penchant to vote in those who mishandle the finances through whimsical spending without a realistic look at the bottom line, and if not altered, will, I fear, irrevocably lead to a financial despair that even the recession did not face. Sadly, it appears to me that even our current administration under our current president seems lackadaisical about the economy. Again, I implore, ‘will our leaders lead?’

Unfortunately, in view of the pending economic crisis on the back of overspending, we as a country and its constituent parts have come to unavoidable crossroads of forced accountability, and no one will enjoy it but everyone must endure it. Many have endured it. Many have lost their jobs. Factories have all but closed. The economy, contrary to the statements coming from political leadership is not rebounding for those of us living in its trenches. Again, I ask of our leaders, ‘will you lead?’

Now, it is at the threshold of the public sector. The ravaging economy hammers against the door. Leadership is facing the continued realization more is needed to avert the looming economic crisis. The leadership entertaining the cutting out of collective bargaining is certainly an emotional one. A sacrifice is being asked of those so involved as a part of averting the crisis. Alongside this, programs are considered being slashed, if not cut in the budgets (of course, I would question the validity of what is considered essential and non-essential programming. It seems the determination is not based on the purpose of government but on the cries of groups). Still, I cry out, ‘will our leaders lead, too?’

Will our leaders lead? I have heard much rhetoric given to this economic woe. I have read of the budgetary cuts that are being suggested to assuage the crisis. Much to my chagrin, I have seen political tactics attempted to avoid making hard decisions. This is embarrassing. When we need our leaders the most, they leave. Leaders lead, not run.

Will our leaders lead? Many have lost jobs. Various programs may be eliminated. Countless folks may lose some once held benefits. Nevertheless, not number among these is our political leaders. Our political leaders stand apart, untouched by the economic woes.

Will our leaders lead? Our leaders speak as if they understand the incredible painful tow it has had. How can they fully comprehend if they have not suffered a loss of job, the loss of a place to house their family, and the loss of caring for their loved ones? Too much time has passed for those of us who have endured it so for mere rhetoric to sooth us.

Will our leaders lead? Our leadership speaks as if they understand the sacrifice they ask of the American citizen. How can they fully comprehend the sacrifice of working for less, much less than before, struggling to live daily when they do not so live? Our leadership speaks as if they understand the sacrifice they are asking of the public servants to give up ‘collective bargaining’ but do they really. Do they fully understand how this process came about? How can they understand it when they can vote on their own salaries and benefits?

Will our leaders lead? Time for mere political rhetoric is gone. Action is warranted. I call upon our political leaders at all levels to join us. I call upon our political leaders to lead by returning to being servants for the common good of the United States rather than being a politician. I call upon our political leaders to lead by example of what they see and what they ask of us.

Will our leaders lead? Will our political leaders, from the president down to the states and cities, lead not only by words of compassion, not only by budgetary decisions, but also by a personal decision to take personal cuts in their salaries and pensions? Furthermore, will you do whatever is necessary to reduce your staff or reduce its pay in order to reduce the budget, and thereby promoting a healthier economy? Will you do everything within your power to curtail spending within your sphere of influence in order to reduce the debt, and thereby fueling a healthy economy? Is this not what our political leaders are asking of the public sector regarding collective bargaining? Would this not give substantive meaning to the words of compassion spoken to those of us eking out a living in these poor economic trenches?

Will you, our political leaders join us? Will you make a similar sacrifice, as your constituents have, and take a substantial reduction in salary and pensions to reduce and avert the economic crisis? Will you commit to it publically? Will you commit to it for as long as it takes to realign the economy?

Will our leaders lead? Leaders who are willing to join in the throes of sacrifice warrant the admiration of its people. Thus far, I have not seen any leader who is willing to walk among us, willing to sacrifice alongside of us in order for us to climb out of this economic quagmire. I do not ask that you take such measures that you cannot place a meal on your table, cannot keep the heat on, or wonder how you will care for your family like many of us. However, I implore you…

President Obama,
Vice President Biden,
Related cabinet and czars, support staff,
Governors and staff,
House of Representatives,
and all other political support etc.

to demonstrate your compassionate talk, show us your willingness to join us (instead of standing apart from us) by volitionally choosing to take the aforementioned cuts, and perhaps more you can think of in order show us, the American citizen, you are one of us and to develop a healthy economy.

Will our leaders so lead? I pray that you will. If you join us both in word and in your actions, we will follow. Otherwise, we are faced with the dilemma that may be at the root of our country’s woes as envisioned by Lee Iaococca’s book, Where Have All The Leaders Gone? This is too unbearable to consider. Will our leaders so lead?


  1. This was in an e-mail, it fits the theme of this article.

    "Congressional Reform Act of 2011

    1. Term Limits.

    12 years only, one of the possible options below..

    A. Two Six-year Senate terms

    B. Six Two-year House terms

    C. One Six-year Senate term and three Two-Year House terms

    2. No Tenure / No Pension.

    A Congressman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office.

    3. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security.

    All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people.

    4. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.

    5. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

    6. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.7. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.

    The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen. Congressmen made all these contracts for themselves.

    Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work."

  2. Nomad....THAT would be the perfect solution to so manyof the problems that plague our government on both sides of th table. It's so unfortunate that greed and ego of those who "are elected to serve" will never make such a bill come to life and breathe on it's own.
    Funny, that is what "we the people" want. But, the people who serve us won't do it.

  3. The actions of our elected officials are the way they are because when they leave the private sector, they don't realize they are actually spending money that is their money and not other peoples money therefore they are way too liberal and don't keep track of the money they keep spending, it has always been that way.

  4. Regarding budget balancing: this is an illusion created by illusionists. Like any responsible adult, the government needs to manage money properly. But the trouble we find ourselves in is not a crisis created by spending money. We need to spend even more to get us into proper growth. We have a REVENUE crisis, not a SPENDING crisis. Not enough money is being taken in by the governments to offset the spending. Certainly, clearing away spending waste and frauds will help, but our lack of taxes on the richest is what causes the imbalance. The richest corporations pay no income tax at all. We have athletes and CEOs making millions of dollars every year that do not pay their fair share of taxes dollars. After all, it is the money left after the paying necessities that counts the most. Most Americans live week to week without savings and quite a few live without very much discretionary income at all.

    Just rolling back the tax rates to those we had in the time os Dwight Eisenhower would solve most of our financial problems as a nation. We went through the 60s cold wars and space drive to reach the moon and afforded it quite well with that tax structure. We built infrastructure like the interstate highway system without breaking the system.

    There is plenty of money out there. There always has been. We have to get beyond believing in the shell game illusions that our leaders want us to believe in. You cannot spend a billion dollars a day on wars and destruction and not wrack up great debt. You CAN invest a billion dollars a day in GROWING the national economy and be fully repaid with profits. That is the nature of CAPITALISM. These days investment costs can reach into the trillions of dollars, and therefore needs to be a private/public partnership.

    Like the Beatles said, "We can work it out."

  5. Nomad, you hit the nail on the head. I second the motion.


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