We usually talk about money on Mondays. As we discussed possible topics for today’s post, we realized there was no bigger issue than what’s going on in Washington and Wall Street. Our apologies to our international listeners, but we’re going to be domestic today. But as we’ve seen, it obviously affects everyone worldwide.
We usually don’t talk about politics. We won’t be partisan; there’s plenty of blame to go around. We know that we may upset everybody today; that’s not our intention.
We think it’s time to look at the facts so we can make the right decisions here in a few weeks … who are we going to hire?
Not just for President, but for government at all levels. It’s time that we, the people, take back our country, our states, and our cities.
We’re sick and tired of the blame game and passing the buck on personal responsibility. Leadership is about taking responsibility. The leaders of our biggest companies aren’t taking responsibility, but even more sad, our elected officials aren’t bearing it, or requiring it, either.
We, the taxpayers, invested $85 billion in AIG. What was AIG’s response? They threw a $440,000 “party”. Sure they called it a “planning meeting” or an “executive session”. But how can you justify spending that kind of money for a retreat when you’re using our money and you’ve been on the brink of financial collapse?
It was a complete slap in the face and our leaders should have seen it as such. But what did they do? Turn around and give AIG another $38 billion two weeks later!
How many of us could walk into a bank two weeks after we borrowed a bunch of money in desperation and get more?
How successful would we be at getting more money if we so grossly underestimated how much it would take the first time around?
“Oh, and by the way, Mr. Banker, we know you’ve heard that we wasted some of it on a spa getaway, but we need about half as much again as we borrowed the first time. Will you lend it to us?”
Can you imagine the response?
Fortunately, AIG scrapped plans for another “party” after news got out about the first one. Of course, we’ve also learned that they tinkered with the idea of spending some of our money running an advertising campaign to apologize for the first “party”.
Some insight into the mismanagement
Warren Buffett was interviewed by CNBC’s Becky Quick back in August. Part of the conversation turned to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. We’ll paraphrase …
Congress set up the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO) back in 1992. The sole job of this agency was to evaluate the soundness, accounting practices, and the like of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Two companies … that’s all OFHEO had to oversee. Buffet, of course, notes that he does more than that all by himself.
It took 200 OFHEO employees and a $65 million dollar a year budget to do that.
Year after year, OFHEO reported to Congress. They stated that the accounting was sound. The directors were great. Everything was just fine. There was nothing to worry about.
Well, we all know what happened – two of the greatest accounting misstatements in the history of the stock exchange caused by management misconduct. What was OFHEO’s response?
A report to Congress blaming the management, the directors, the audit committee. Everybody but themselves.
200 people with a budget of $65 million overseeing just two companies. Yet they assumed no responsibility for this huge blunder.
The problem we have is that everybody blames anybody else every time there is a problem. It needs to end now.
How to put an end to it
The solution may surprise you. It starts and ends with us. We need to take personal responsibility. We made mistakes too. We bought in.
We saw government borrowing and living beyond its means, so many of us borrowed and lived beyond ours. From this day forward, that ends. We won’t forget this lesson. We will bailout ourselves. We will get back on our feet. We will prosper.
We also delegated too much. We voted, but we didn’t pay close enough attention to what our elected officials were doing. Well, Mr. or Ms. Politician, you have our attention now. And we’re going to keep paying attention.
What we can’t control
Here’s what paying closer attention has shown us – we see a complete vacuum of leadership. You’re not a leader if you don’t take responsibility for your mistakes. You’re not a leader if you don’t solve problems; you only assign blame to others. You’re not a leader if you can’t tell us where we’re at, why we got here, and what we’re going to do about it to make tomorrow better than today.
We can’t personally do much to change the leadership on Wall Street. We can’t do much to change who reports our news, because the media missed the boat on this one as well. We can’t choose the bureaucrats, like the ones at OFHEO, who oversee key agencies and put policy into action.
What we can control
We do get to choose who we hire to represent us. We have important decisions to make in a few weeks. Not just for President. Not just for the Senate or the House in Washington, D.C. We get to choose who will represent us at all levels of government.
So here’s how we put an end to it now. Quit thinking like a Democrat or a Republican. That’s another trap they’ve led us into and we bought in.
No, we will hire the best person for the job. We need to do our homework: What’s their record? What have they accomplished? How have they handled their fiduciary duties in the past?
The past is the best predictor we have of the future when it comes to human behavior. That’s how we would hire anybody else. Why would we hire our elected officials any differently?
We have access to the records of our current elected officials. We can know what they’ve done. We need to start paying closer attention.
We the people
We’re looking for public servants, not party servants or power servants. We the people are taking our country back.
Go ahead, Mr. or Ms. Politician … take that special interest money. But you better be clear about who you serve. We the people.
Mr. or Ms. Elected Official, go ahead and listen to your party leaders. Just know that, on Election Day, we won’t vote for the person who serves the powers that be. We will vote for the person who serves us. We the people.
Combined, we’re more powerful than Washington can ever be when we are educated and informed. We will take personal responsibility to learn who best serves our interest, and the interests of our children and grandchildren.
We the people are taking back our country.
What do you think?