My main concern for this country is the lack of Critical Thinking when it comes to the challenges facing our society on a daily basis. First off, I’ll be very clear, there are no legitimate conspiracy theories – I do not believe in them, especially on a grand scale. However, there are trends in philosophy and thinking. There are commonalities in perceived goals to accomplish and I do believe this drives individuals to make decisions that ultimately achieve a shared desired outcome. Conspiracy theories suggest there is a puppet master behind the scenes manipulating people and events to achieve the desired outcome, such as George Soros spending billions to buy people like Obama to implement the social & economic programs he desires. There has been a commonality of goals over the years with only minor differences between the different administrations from Bush I to Obama & now Biden. After living through the Reagan years and the significantly improved economy I found it frustrating that Bush I and Clinton did not continue the growth initially established by Reagan. For those among you that only remember the .com explosion during the Clinton years I would remind you that the growth in the DOW was very narrowly defined and by the end of Clinton’s administration the economy had so significantly declined that we entered a short recessionary period at the beginning of the Bush II administration. Many may disagree with me that Clinton’s economy was narrowly defined but that’s not the point to focus on. Throughout all this time we’ve only been 1 or 2 quarters away from a recession until 2017 came around. During the Obama years, we had 3 occasions when 2 consecutive quarters showed marginal growth, (reference my article from Oct 23, 2020, Trump’s Economy). Since 1987 there had been 3 recessions in 23 years ending in 2010 whereas you only find 3 recessions from 1907 thru 1987 (80 years). Following the Reagan administration, policies have reflected a strong similarity in risk-averse economic ideas which resulted in a lackluster performance at best. The differences in policies are nothing more than spend or don’t spend, nothing to bring jobs or trade back to the pre-Kennedy era, until 2017 when President Trump upset the entire apple cart with his way of doing things, which isn’t taught in any of the Ivy League schools or other prestigious economic schools.
There was a certain familiarity we have felt with our politicians all through the last decade of the 20th century, into the first 1 1/2 decades of the 21st century. We knew there was a certain decorum of politeness the top politician held to. It’s like it was important which side of the dinner plate the knife went on, and you just don’t say certain things directly to another politician even though you might be thinking them. Heaven forbid you might offend them. When someone makes a fool out of you don’t acknowledge it and most definitely don’t confront them. It just wouldn’t be prudent. You have staff that’ll take care of that for you.
During these 3 decades, the president also didn’t need to bother with writing policy, all they needed to do was dictate a general idea and the “staffers” would write it the way it should be written in “proper” company. The president was expected to read what the staffers wrote and then promote it, after all, they were mostly educated at the Ivy League schools or close offshoots like NYU or Chicago Business School so of course, they’re smarter than everyone else. They understand the ins and outs of international treaties better than anyone; just ask them. Sort of like Engineers, engineers know everything already, just ask them. For those of you who know me, you also know I’m an engineer, so I have first-hand experience with engineers, (tongue in cheek).
So what does this mean when the politicians rely on staffers to write the policies? After all the staffers aren’t accountable to the voters. If the politician isn’t a strong leader but is very accomplished in glad-handing and impressing influencers, then will they be able to reign in the staffers? The most blatant example of a situation where the staffer needed to be reined in would be Colonel Alexander Vindman, director of European Affairs in the NSC. It is reported he made what I’m sure he thought were reasoned and correct recommendations on foreign policy. He was educated at Binghamton University and Harvard University and spent 2 decades in the military. President Trump, on the other hand, had a lifetime of practical experience dealing with Type A leaders. This experience told him Colonel Vindman’s recommendations would compromise our ability to negotiate and deal with either NATO or Russia. When it was clear President Trump was not utilizing the detailed European strategy outlined in Colonel Vindman’s report he threw what can only be described as a very public temper tantrum by accusing President Trump of underhanded dealings with Ukraine and Russia. In reality, Colonel Vindman is an academic with experience in war but not with negotiations. The echo chamber he lived in told him he was brilliant and anyone who disagreed with him just wasn’t smart enough to understand the intricacies of diplomacy and foreign policy. The temper tantrum he threw, with the help of CNN and a few others, was truly epic eventually resulting in him being escorted off White House grounds and being reassigned. The question I have to ask is if someone did not have extensive high-level international business negotiation experience and strength of character, would they be able to withstand that level of pressure or would they have attempted to appease Colonel Vindman to avoid the public onslaught?
Most politicians would never let this conflict come to light, instead, they would have negotiated behind the scenes or just outright accepted it because regardless of the impact on the rest of us, to show any conflict would make a poor reflection on their character. None of the previous 4 presidents would have disagreed with anyone in the Colonel’s position because they couldn’t withstand the onslaught in the press. As for the current occupant of the White House, it wouldn’t matter because it is evident, he doesn’t have a clue of what’s going on and is only supplying his name to the flood of Executive Orders prepared by someone else. Certainly, he isn’t supplying thought to any of it. After all, with the highest number of people in the last few years flooding across our southern border every day we have yet to reach crisis levels. The issue concerning so many Academics, (not all), and young Engineers, is they’ve learned the theories of how things are supposed to work but without practical life experience, they have no way to calibrate and adjust their answers. Also, they have no incentive to adjust their answers because they’re right, just ask them!!
The staffers that get hired are highly educated and no doubt extremely versed in the areas they are most interested in. Do these staffers have real-world experience to govern which of the excellent sounding ideas they have? Have these ideas worked in the real world or are the staffers relying on reading about what someone else’s perceived experience is? We all have a tendency towards confirmation bias and most of us don’t have the incentive to fight it. This should all be irrelevant though. These staffers are supposed to work for our representative at the discretion and direction of the elected official. What happens, in reality, might be quite a different thing, the staffers have been there for years, so the representatives rely on the staffers to write the policies and the bills. This is fine until you get an elected official who doesn’t have a defined compass of what they believe. They’ve done and said things that effectively cover both sides of the issue. When these Carpet-Baggers move into the office you already know it’s the staffers who will run things. This should concern you because we don’t even know who they are and we certainly didn’t elect them to run the country.
We elect a politician, whom we call a representative, to implement laws that help make our lives better. When you look back over the Clinton-Bush-Obama years you can tell there wasn’t a lot of difference in the results of the policies because very little changed. The market was mediocre after the dot-com bubble, job participation rates didn’t improve, manufacturing jobs continued to leave and we continued to become more dependent on other countries. You can already tell the only reason the economy under Biden will do OK is because it’s been artificially suppressed for so long. It will continue to expand as things open up until all the new regulations hit home, then it’ll be back to the mediocre Clinton-Bush-Obama era. No one is exercising imaginative thinking or maximizing the opportunities presented by capitalism. How is it I can draw these conclusions? If we’d had a president like Ryan or Romney we wouldn’t be able to make this conclusion, but by contrasting them to a president like Trump, who definitely was his own man and didn’t worry if someone liked him or not, we can tell Trump directed the staffers and not the other way around. To be fair some of the Representatives and Senators direct their staff on what they want, and some of them are in total lockstep with the staffers but you can tell who lets the staff run things and who is a strong enough leader to run things.
Finally, when you consider the person in front of you who desperately wants your support, you need to look at whether or not they stand for something or whether they will tell you anything they think you want to hear just to get you into their bed, (so to speak). In truth who thinks President Biden is in control of anything? He is incapable of taking serious questions. His handlers cut off zoom presentations before he can answer questions and he hasn’t had a real press conference since he took office. Over the weekend he was speaking at the podium and was completely confused. Sadly, they have put this man in this position so they can remain in power. Jill Biden should put an end to it. I believe this borders on elder abuse. How did he get enough votes to be elected? These are serious questions for which I have no answers. As always, thanks for taking the time to read this article and I hope it gives you an alternative way to critically think about the issues at hand.