I’d like to start today’s blog with a quote. It comes from Meltzer’s book, “Why Capitalism?” Meltzer states, “Over 50 years, the United States fiscal program went from prudence to profligacy. The change has four underlying causes: discretionary monetary policy; absence of a rule to restrain government spending; foreign aid, and military spending; and pressures for income redistribution.” When Meltzer refers to income redistribution he means entitlements such as – social security, Medicare/Medicaid, and welfare. This quote comes at a point in his book where he has just laid out a history of budgetary surpluses and deficits for the United States. It was enlightening to see a timeline of how our country used to pay off its debt, but Republicans and Democrats have now taken it upon themselves to disregard debt and continue to spend at unheard of levels.
I am not a Tea Party adherent, but they seem to be the only ones communicating to our government the need to change spending habits. After I read a couple of interesting articles in this morning’s paper, I was reminded about the importance of communication.
The first article of interest had the title, “Auto Manager Was Left For Dead: India Police Hunt 12 Union Leaders.” It appears that India’s largest car maker has had a communication problem between its managers and employees. It was so serious that the union leaders are suspected in killing the HR manager Awanish Kumar Dev. “India’s automotive industry has been racked by labor strife and occasional violence in recent years.” How did this situation get to a point where a manager was killed? OBviously someone isn’t listening.
But it is a Peggy Noonan WSJ contribution that caught my attention this morning. She discussed our recent problems with communication in her article, “A Remedial Communication Class.” In her pontifications she focuses on three recent communication failures, and notes how we should learn our lessons from them.
The first failure involves our Olympic team uniforms. She describes what commercials could have been run using American garment manufacturers as the back story encouraging our athletes in their upcoming endeavors. Instead the garments were made in China. She calls this a missed opportunity, and I agree. Remember the Chrysler commercial a couple of years ago and the feelings of pride in our country in created. Instead we are confronted with berets and double-breasted tuxedo jackets that seem more European than American. Noonan describes the women’s uniforms as making them look like, “stewardesses from the 777 fleet on Singapore Airlines.” This is communicating that we are European wannabes.
The second communication failure involves Mitt Romney. He has refused to release anymore tax returns. What is funny is the reason Noonan gives for Romney not releasing the documents. “The reason Mitt Romney isn’t releasing anymore tax returns can be reduced to three words: Bill Clinton’s underwear. When he first ran for president, Bill Clinton put out his tax returns.” Enterprising individuals went through the forms and discovered that the Clinton’s were meticulous with the tax deductions, including the donation of “Mr. Clinton’s old underwear” to local charities.” I don;t know about you, but I don’t want to wear someone else’s underwear, not even Bill Clinton’s. You would think that Romney was preparing for his presidential run many years before he actually ran. You would think that he would be cautious regarding his taxes knowing that they could become public domain.
The third communication failure involves President Obama, and his understanding of how someone becomes successful. Obama believes, according to Noonan, that we should all feel guilty. If I am a wealthy business person I need to feel guilty because I became rich on the backs of the poor, and if I am a woman on welfare, I need to feel guilty because I am relying on my hard working neighbors. The implication in both of these cases is that government programs helped both sets of people via public projects initiated by the government. “We owe our wealth and growth as a nation to government programs.” We don’t owe our success as a country to our politicians and their pork. Noonan is arguing quite well that Obama’s communication style is an attempt to force a new narrative down our throats.
America was not built on European meritocracy, it was built on the back of regular people like us who came here looking for an opportunity. Noonan sums up the communication process of American success well. “The American people tell you the narrative. They look at the facts produced by your leadership, make a judgement and sum it up. The summation is spoken – the story told – at a million BBQ’s in a million backyards.”
The bottom-up communication process will only get stronger as social media continues to growth. Honest communication is important.
And that is my thought for the day!