Friday, January 15, 2010

Be careful for what you wish – an open letter you Governor Chris Christie

Once again the winds of change have blown favorably across the vast expanse which is commonly known as The State of New Jersey. A new leader has emerged from our democratic electoral process, who promises: hope, wisdom, and (most importantly of all) CHANGE. Good change, bad Change, or simple “Change of the sake of Change” – the question remains open to interpretation now, and for the next four years.

Initial Contact
Beware the ides of March” – Soothsayer to Julius Caesar
and and few days later …
The Ideas have come” - Julius Caesar
AYE - BE NOT YET PAST.” – Soothsayer

Nothing is more uncertain, than to effect change; for those who will lose from the old order will fight to protect, while those who will benefit do not yet see the advantages of the new order.”, wrote Niccolo Machiavelli. How often in the past 20+ years, have we seen very sincere government officials, attempt to institute reforms, or otherwise, “… change the way government works”; only to see their very best laid plans (of mice and men) buried in the Graveyard of Good Intentions. Knowledgeable readers will doubtless remember:
H. Rose Periot (make government run like a business),
Jimmy Carter (detail genius), and
Bill Clinton & Al Gore (reengineering government).

All human actions are the result of the “equilibrium” between the forces affecting the matter under consideration. For example: we buy (or choose not to buy) groceries in the Supermarket, based upon the price of the object, our perceived quality of the object, and our need for the object vis-a-vie the availability of alternative purchase options. In a similar way, the efficiency and effectiveness of government actions, non-actions and reactions is nothing more than the offsetting sum of the forces affected and engaged in the action (or its outcome) times the amount of concern being exhibited by the force providers.

Governmental actions are not (usually) poorly conceived, they become bureaucratic and dysfunctional as a result or either (a) the lack of clear accountability and responsibility of the action (i.e., who’s in charge?), or (b) the desire to compromise simple for the sake of achieving the illusion of agreement (consider: the United Nations uses four official languages; the European Union uses twelve official languages – overkill?). For example: everyone agrees that schools should be better, because smarter kids will make a better community (world). Now consider the actions of each of the “force groups” within the educational system:
(a) how many parents are not fully engaged in the education of their children?
(b) how many teachers take the easiest route to tenure and a full pension?
(c) how many taxpayers disregard the financial needs the their community school system?
(d) how many student demand a quality education?
Since everyone has disregarded their responsibility, no one else is prepared to take up the “slack”, with the result that the system continues its downward spiral of mediocrity and minimal levels of subsistence.

In the late 1930’s, Bernard Mannes Baruch (famous American financier) observed that, “… one does not ‘cure’ the Stock Market, because the market is the thermometer not the underlying infection. We must act to ‘cure’ the underlying economy, and the stock market will recover of its own accord.” The solution is not to evaluate and revise each process, practice, and procedure, but rather to take Bernie Baruch’s advice and ATTACK THE UNDERLYING CAUSALITY. This can be most easily achieved by stating in simple, clear, and concise language the overall goals, objectives and underlying reasons which will (henceforth) be the acceptable standards of all governmental actions and processes – to wit: A Mission Statement. Having issued the Mission Objectives, it is easy for the government employees, administrators, legislators, and citizen (clients) to evaluate the quality amount and quantity level of their governmental service and to provoke appropriate corrective action(s) whenever necessary. For example: how does this action, advance the Mission of New Jersey in a way which is consistent with our stated goals and objectives? If the answer would be embarrassing when published in a newspaper, maybe a better answer is needed, eh?


I hereby urge Governor Chris Christie, within 30 days of taking office, to layout his vision of the overall goals and objectives which are the MISSION for the State of New Jersey and underlying reasons for these priorities. I farther urge Governor Christie to print and distribute this “Mission” on reference cards, to every government employees and administrators – so that they can have a daily reminder of their responsibility to the citizens of the state. Finally I urge Governor Christie to reinforce this mission points during his contact to the citizenry, such that they are a part of the solution and will benefit from its implementation.

Consider the observation of Niccolo Machiavelli, who in his treatise “The Prince”, rightly observes,”He who has not first laid his foundations may be able with great ability to lay them afterwards, but they will be laid with trouble to the architect and danger to the building.

Good Luck Governor - You'll Need It.

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