Obama fail, elite fail, government fail, and Jack Lew
If you want to master the modern method of how the American ruling class gets to the ‘elite’ level, it generally goes like this: get into a brand-name school and then ping-pong back and forth between government work (the military/defense included) and private industry. Deviations to this basic plan are few and far between; exceptions prove the rule.
And while the political ruling class (American and others) may not be fully inept, greedy, corrupted, or dishonest when they start their journey towards eliteness, by the time they end their ‘careers,’ history shows they are likely to be in that configuration. And they’re likely to be worth a lot more as well.
In early 2008, he [Lew] became a top executive in the Citigroup unit that housed many of the bank’s riskiest operations, including its hedge funds and private equity investments. Massive losses in that unit helped drive Citigroup into the arms of the federal government, which bailed out the bank with $45 billion in taxpayer money that year.
The group had been under pressure to compete with similar units at other big Wall Street firms and, some analysts say, took on too many risks as it played catch-up.
“The mismanagement of risk was comprehensive at that organization,” said Simon Johnson, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
So, one might ask, if Lew couldn’t get it right at Citi, should he be expected to get it right at Treasury? As such, it seems becoming an elite political player is clearly not based on the quality of one’s ideas or performance; it’s based on quid pro quo, one’s resume, and beneficial relationships and networks.
Becoming a political ‘elite’ in America has evolved (devolved) to such a process because our government bureaucracy has become sufficiently huge as to allow (and encourage) such behavior and because industry knows that government interference in the marketplace can have a massive impact. Or in other words, follow the power. “Follow the power” is an umbrella rule-of-thumb which covers the subset of the more popular “follow the money.”
The real solution to the problem is to make government smaller and less corrupt. Part of the answer to the problem is term limits.
But how do we get term limits? Amend the Constitution. And yet a US government collapse seems more likely to occur (and earlier) than such reform.
And true reform requires a change in people’s hearts, that (for example) an individual’s desires be submitted to the people they are supposed to represent and serve. Instead we have the opposite—a group of pseudo ‘elites’ who we support and who makes decisions we don’t want for ourselves (because these elites somehow know better than we ourselves what’s good for us and what we really need). Does anyone really think of Barack Obama or Tim Geithner or Harry Reid as public servants?
The way ahead? I think it’s grim, so let me put it this way: this—the consequences of the failures of our ‘elites’—will not end well.