Saturday, September 17, 2011

Charting a Course for Leaders

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The other day my kids were fighting: somebody was teasing, someone's finger got bent back too far, there was crying, then a "banishment". In the end we got it all worked out, and 30 minutes later they're playing and laughing in the driveway. The current political environment reminds me of a childish childhood fight: someone acted selfishly, someone lashed out, and nothing was resolved. Pick a topic -- tax rates, tax burdens, Social Security, defense spending -- and you'll find that each situation follows the same pattern, crying out for the same solution: adult supervision in the form of leadership.

Leadership is not about leading opinion polls or winning elections. Leadership is planning a course, setting sail, and having a back-up plan in case you get blown off course. A quick look at Social Security reveals a plan set in 1935 to aid destitute seniors past age 65 (when life expectancy was 62) and a course that picked up more and more voyagers -- but no Plan B adjustment for an ever-growing program. The greatest obstacles for most programs today are the lack of leadership on planning in the past and no leadership on responsibility today.

Social Security and Medicare should serve those in need, not everyone. Tax rates should be known and tax burdens should be transparent (without deductions) to make the whole system equitable and efficient. Defense spending should support the mission of defending the United States and shed antiquated, off-mission facilities and activities that add nothing but cost.

I have a plan -- let's go. Here's my Plan B, just in case. And, hey, no crying.