Something I’ve told my kids as they grew up is: complacent is complicit. They couldn’t bring the defense that they were just hanging around with, or driving in the car with, someone who’d been mean or inappropriate. A part of is a part of.
And that brings me to the U.S . Federal Government and the individual’s role in the polity. I won’t dredge up Hannah Arendt, but to not participate is not to forfeit a right but to fail to fulfill an obligation. But a lot of citizen behavior here is written off in a strange twist of the Twinkie Defense: the good times lulled people into a semi-narcotic euphoria. AKA: citizens got dumb.
But did they, really? Americans are very bright. Try to follow NFL Fantasy Football or the betting pools for the NCAA Basketball. That is complex stuff, and somehow millions master the odds and probabilities of dozens of teams with hundreds of players advancing to the finals.
Now show them the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, Chapter 11, section 363 and make them read two paragraphs written in normal langauge. I could even make a YouTube video of what it means. It was meant to help out investors in companies that might fail. But the US Government used it (within the law but in violation of the most likely intent of the law) to crush investors in automakers. The best one could say to any taxpaying citizen is: complacent is complicit.
By the way, what is the fully-burdened cost of a member of the U.S. Congress? Any idea? Any guess within $50,000? Of course you don’t know: no one knows. How many junkets did they take with their family to Ireland or Alaska or Brazil? How often did they hop on military jets? What is the salary and what is the budget?
How responsive are they to the citizens? We do, after all, have a Representative Democracy in the United States. Representative does not mean Responsive. In a way, it is representative: if voters select to remain ignorant of the broad strokes of legislation and policy issues, then their Representative is reflecting their lack of involvement.
Would you ever run a business this way? In some ways, we do. What is the true cost of maintaining a customer? Not on average, but by segment, or by individual customer. What are the projected lifetime values of maintaining that customer? How has that projection changed over time? Where is that information kept? I look at hundreds of CRM systems every year, and 99 out of 100 customer-facing employees lack that basic piece of data during an interaction with the customer.
OK, maybe we do run our businesses a lot like the U.S. Government.