“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them,” said Albert Einstein.  Applying this statement to the current state of the local and national economies, I got to thinking about the paths toward a sustainable and robust recovery.

The solutions seem obvious to me.  Lower fuel costs by transitioning to natural gas for transportation as that will reduce fuel costs by more than half.  Encourage a faster transition to solar power for homes as that would reduce monies currently siphoned off by the energy utilities.  Eliminate waste in the healthcare and government sectors.  If we did all of these things, the amount of extra cash that most individuals and businesses would have would be sufficient to fuel a robust recovery.  The task of transitioning to natural gas and solar would create a boom in employment that should more than offset the loss of jobs in sectors fraught with bureaucratic waste.

If these fixes seem so obvious to me, why aren’t there more local, regional or national figures espousing the virtues of an united effort to better things for all while resolving excesses that hamper a true recovery?

Going back to the Einstein observation, the problem appears to be that those in leadership positions are not actually leaders.  While partisanship and self interests are an apparent outcome of a void in leadership, the root of much of what hampers improvement goes back to the manner through which most leaders in government and business are being created.  Generally speaking, mediocrity rises to the top in most bureaucracies.  You seldom see visionary leadership rise through the ranks – that type of person typically gets stifled in the middle management ranks.  One need look no further than this year’s Presidential race – can anyone argue that both candidates are the absolute best that America has to offer?

The lack of leadership and bold new ideas are part of what our Valley and the country is lacking.  To get to a true sustainable recovery, we need to look at current problems differently.

Author William Deresiewicz of A Jane Austen Education has written on the system that develops our leaders in business and government.  He questions if  “getting straight A’s make you a leader?”  Deresiewicz then surmises that it finds “excellent sheep (who can) jump through hoops.”   As most large business and governmental agencies are bureaucratic in nature, he continues stating that “the great mystery about bureaucracies (is that) excellence isn’t usually what gets you up the greasy pole. What gets you up is a talent for maneuvering, pleasing your superiors, picking a powerful mentor and riding his coattails until it’s time to stab him in the back. Jumping through hoops. Getting along by going along. Being whatever other people want you to be, so that it finally comes to seem that…you have nothing inside you at all. Not taking stupid risks like trying to change how things are done or question why they’re done. Just keeping the routine going.  This is a national problem. We have a crisis of leadership in this country, in every institution. Not just in government. Look at what happened to Wall Street in just the last couple of years.”

Look around and ask yourself a question – who do you view as true leaders?  For the moment, focus strictly on our elected ‘leaders’.  Using any elected ‘leader’ that comes to mind, can you name three things attributable to that person that led to the betterment of things?  Have they ‘earned’ the right to continue representing you due to specific accomplishments?  If not, think back to Einstein and another of his quotes, “Insanity (is) doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

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