July 21, 2013 / BE THE DUMB ONE IN THE ROOM
July 21, 2013
America’s current state is looking a lot like a multi-national corporation that’s completely lost touch with its original vision and mission, and doesn’t appear to particularly care about the people it serves. After a period of short-lived success and global notoriety, it racked up a mountain of debt—suffocating its competitiveness and creating a massive cash-flow crisis. With leadership gridlock, America can’t invest in what matters because it has to service $15 trillion of debt instead.
When a distressed company hits this level of financial pain, it implodes—declaring bankruptcy, failing or doing a complete turnaround so it can live to fight another day. For a turnaround to stand a chance, leadership needs to agree on a plan, chart a new vision, cut costs and focus on driving the business forward. New leadership needs to be brought in, particularly a CEO who has a proven track record and the leadership skills to mobilize internal teams, strategically deploy assets, partner with suppliers and banks, and direct employees to execute a strategy that moves the business to a clear future state. This new leader must make the tough decisions, fix the things that are fixable and cut the ones that aren’t, address the challenges head-on and get the entire team to do their part.
To be successful in a turnaround, there are two essential ingredients for transformation. The first is agreeing on the problem that needs to be solved. The second is building trust among all stakeholders so the best minds can come together to solve that problem.
Why can’t America employ some of these same tactics?
The posturing, noise and rhetoric of Washington has to stop now—our leaders must step back, clearly state the problem, agree on a timeframe, roll up their sleeves and work together to actually develop a plan to solve the problem and not just defer it.
The Penny Plan
There’s one plan on the table that got my attention because it’s easy to understand and it gets the job done. The One Percent Spending Reduction Act, or the “Penny Plan” as it’s been coined on Capitol Hill, aims to balance the budget by bringing overall spending down to the historic average for revenues to 18% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Over a ten-year period, the Penny Plan would cut spending by $7.5 trillion and balance the budget by 2019, eliminating our deficits and getting our country back on a path towards fiscal health. So what are we waiting for? Let’s tell the story, sign the papers and get on with it.
Ask what you can do for your country
It’s easy to sit on the sidelines and be critical of our government but it’s up to each of us to get involved, rally around the issues we care about and do our part to help solve the problems we face. Our country has a massive debt and it’s time to deal with it. When given a challenge, America has always answered the call.
John F. Kennedy said “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”
It’s time for courageous action to address the debt, the spending and the waste. This is our money and our future so we need to get involved and insist that the issue gets solved. It’s time to activate American ingenuity and industriousness to change the direction we are headed.
The Great American Turnaround
We need to change the headlines from arguments and gridlock to the Great American Turnaround. As a nation, we’re addicted to intriguing content like PSY’s Gangnam Style (over 1.3 billion views on YouTube), cause-related stories like Kony 2012 (94 million views), and compelling campaigns like the LiveStrong movement (80 million bracelets sold to raise funds for cancer). Now is the time to share a story that gets Americans involved in solving one of the biggest problems this country has ever faced.
Do you Give a Buck?
Imagine choosing to donate $1 or more every paycheck to the “Dollar Save Club.” Think Kickstarter and Kiva for America—a fund that can be used to invest in and build domestic projects like the national electric grid, high-speed Internet, bridges, roads, tunnels, airports, high-speed rail, and even people. Americans love a challenge, so rather than being passive, apathetic, sidelined victims waiting for our leaders to do something, we the people can show the rest of the world that we are capable of solving our own problems.
Imagine every major retailer, credit card company and bank allowing consumers to “Give a Buck” when paying for groceries, for meals and so on. We’re essentially doing it already. “I Give a Buck” bracelets, stickers and posters would represent involvement and resolve to solve the problem. With millions of Americans and every corporation in America participating every day, every week and every month, we could go a long way in proving that we can solve the issue, and, just as importantly, solve our disconnected attitude to the greatest challenge we face as a nation.
Do you give a buck?