Showdown in Massachusetts – Winning the Hearts of Voters

 

Regarding the special election in Massachusetts, Martha Coakley vs. Scott Brown, pundits can choose to disagree in their analysis. But my sense is much of the analysis following the election appears erroneous.

Not to oversimplify the Massachusetts election, yes, voters were unconvinced about Ms. Coakley. Because of her ties with the top Democrats, voters were just as frustrated with the White House and Congress over the top 10 issues:

  1. Their ineptness in the sluggish economy and weak policies about job creation
  2. Failure to use a bully pulpit to get banks to lend to business and homeowners
  3. Wall Street bailouts
  4. Inability to regulate Wall Street with qualified, objective professionals and to end the dubious financial schemes and vehicles
  5. Disingenuous schemes to promote unwanted healthcare changes
  6. Deficit spending
  7. Weariness about big-brother government interfering with their businesses and lives
  8. Government’s preoccupation with pie-in-the-sky fantasies about solving unemployment with green initiatives for the short term
  9. Refusal to utilize the abundant but untapped offshore oil opportunities, which will result in higher tax revenue and create jobs
  10. Failure to develop an effective policy for China and its undervaluing of its currency, which subsidizes its exports to the U.S.

Healthcare reform?

Because of the unfortunate preoccupation with healthcare over economic issues, let’s consider the healthcare debate as one of the salient issues. Opponents to the healthcare proposals condemned the proponents’ healthcare proposals because they view it as a healthcare effort. They do not view it as healthcare reform and do not see any financial benefit.

Yes, polls show most Americans are opposed to the Senate and House bills. They are alarmed at the aggregate cost, and they are alarmed at the methods used to pass the bills.  For them, many aspects of these bills are unhealthy.

The bottom-line for voters: Arrogance of public officials and their denial of economic and political liberties to voters are the core issues.

Most voters are appalled by the arrogance of the healthcare proponents. The voters believe the priority should be listening to the American public and solving the economic issues.

Hopefully, the White House will learn what the Clinton Administration folks learned the hard way. It was David Gergen who saved the Clinton Administration when it was mired in chaos in 1993 following its failed healthcare initiative and stagnation from organizational failures. And America did not want a co-president. Mr. Gergen knew the Clinton White House needed to reboot to get on track – to deal with the preferred business of the voters.

That’s what the Obama White House needs to do. Stop the arrogance. Act on the changes desired by most Americans.

The words of business philosopher Dr. Peter Drucker are applicable: “Arrogance is being proud of ignorance.”

A strong political campaign is almost synonymous with effective business marketing. For a candidate to win an election in this economic environment, it’s important to use classic business principles.

Therefore, six elements are required for success –

  1. Effectively listen – leave the ego behind.
  2. Convey a heavy dose of empathy for voters with an attitude of gratitude like a true public servant. Approach the campaign like a hungry job applicant.
  3. Take the high road at every turn like a successful diplomat and partner with the right centers of influence.
  4. Conduct a campaign analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
  5. Develop a strategic action plan.
  6. Execute the strategies in Blue Angels-like precision.

If these lessons are learned, America will get on track. Otherwise, voters will continue their disgust over the arrogance, and stolen economic and political liberties.

From the Coach’s Corner, here’s more on my views regarding healthcare: Oxymorons: ‘Healthcare Reform’ and ‘Public Servants’

Will Government Policies Ever Promote Economic And Political Liberty?

 

Updated July 4, 2010

Seemingly lost in the celebration of this nation’s Independence Day is a salient cause for concern. Debt is a huge threat. We are not honoring the wisdom and courage of our nation’s founders. The Declaration of Independence 234 years ago was designed to protect American citizens.

But unproductive policies, a culture of entitlement and unnecessary spending at all levels have created massive budget gaps and threaten Americans. Ironically, on Independence Day 2010, the culture of entitlement and lavish spending are closely tied with the deteriorating individual economic and political liberties.

Consider the federal budget quagmire: The national debt is now more than $13 trillion and is forecast to exceed $21 trillion by 2020.

As I’ve written on other occasions, policies leading to the heavy spending are unproductive. Two recent controversial examples, cap-and-trade and healthcare reform, threaten economic liberties – by extension they threaten political liberties.

The same is true in state governments – they are guilty of dangerous spending and onerous taxes. State legislators everywhere are unwilling to make tough decisions.

Their policies favoring public sector unions help keep them in office. Powerful public-employee unions rank among the heaviest spenders in political advertising during elections.

California, for example, a state facing another horrific budget – $19 billion – has few options. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has been forced to follow through on a threat to pay state workers a minimum wage until lawmakers meaningfully balance the state budget. He also initiated a furlough policy so state employees would keep receiving their paychecks.

The state about which I’m most familiar is Washington. The state has a continuing $3 billion deficit to solve, but state legislators were more willing to hike taxes this year by $800 million without considering all opportunities to shave spending. Even state officials admit to a forecast of red ink for the next five years.

Upon receiving a forecast – confirmation of the continuing red ink – Gov. Gregoire appointed a panel of 32 business, labor, political and think-tank leaders to discuss the issues. There will be public hearings and conclusions will be given to the Legislature. And a reported return to priorities of government spending is welcome news. But why did it take so long? What’s needed is a structural change with state-government reform.

$65 million in waste

Washington Policy Center (WPC – www.washingtonpolicy.org), a respected think tank, points out a questionable benefit for public workers – state employees are permitted to carry forward and cash out their unused sick leave.

 “According to the state’s budget transparency website, Washington paid out $65.3 million in unused sick leave during the 2007-09 biennium,” said Jason Mercier, director of the association’s Center for Government Reform.

He points out the perk is allowed in sections 12.6 to 12.8 of the collective bargaining agreement.

“The state’s sick leave policy should be changed to a set number of days per year that can’t be cashed out or carried forward, added Mr. Mercier. “This is the benefit policy for employees at the Washington Policy Center as well as many other private employers.”

Another conclusion in the state’s 2009 comprehensive annual financial report (CAFR): Expenses outgrew revenue.

Another eye-opener in the report: “Governmental activities resulted in a decrease in the state of Washington’s net assets of $2.2 billion.”

Here’s a big reason for the liabilities:

Schedule 17 of the CAFR shows that the largest employer in the state is government coming in at 17.6 percent of total employment,” Mr. Mercier pointed out. “The next largest is retail trade coming in at 10.8 percent of total employment.” 

State and local governments are dysfunctional, too, in public employee health benefits. Retiree health benefits for employees in the public sector – state and local governments – are unfunded to the tune of $530 billion, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) in a report on state and local government retirement health benefits (OPEB – Other Post Employment Benefits).

The gap in Washington state was $7.9 billion in 2008 according to the state.

OPEB benefits are separate from pensions in the public sector, which are much higher than private employers are able to provide.

The GAO offered three OPEB solutions: “…changing the type of retiree health benefit plan, changing the level of the government’s contribution toward retirees’ health insurance premiums, and changing the eligibility requirements employees need to meet to qualify for retiree health benefits.”

Property Rights

Another hindrance to economic and political liberty in Washington: The state permits local governments to seize private property in the name of economic development. Not to be gauche, many public servants are behaving like public serpents.

A WPC study showed local governments in Washington have used the law as a land grab to threaten or actually confiscate the property owned by 71,000 state citizens. This is under the guise of economic development to create revenue – a literal taxing source. Many victims are poor. Their rights have been denied by elitists – the powerful legal tyranny of local governments.

Washington’s Attorney General Rob McKenna attempted action this year. He promoted two bills to halt exploitations of Washington’s Community Renewal Law that create new sources of tax revenue. Ironically, the law contradicts the state’s Constitution.

Meantime, elitist behavior continues to imprison taxpayers in other ways.

Washington state government is behaving as though 70 percent of the budget is off limits when considering spending cuts. That includes debt service, education, pensions, and federal funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for higher education and Medicaid.

Efforts to reform Washington government to become good government have so far fallen on deaf ears.

Washington State Auditor Brian Sonntag has conducted a performance review of the state government. The report, Opportunities for Washington, makes recommendations for the government to save money, become more efficient and target revenue sources.

Traditionally, however, many state agencies have virtually ignored such recommendations.

Some conclusions

Poor economic policies and extravagant spending impinge on rights – economic and political liberties.

Public servants claim they want to create jobs, but why is there so much unemployment? By sapping the wealth of Americans, the unemployed can’t find jobs. It takes wealth to create jobs, but burdensome taxation, revoking of rights, and transferring wealth to hire public workers with lavish benefits do not create wealth.

As a result, businesses are hesitant to hire workers so this means government is destroying jobs to create costly public-sector jobs. Their actions do not indicate they want a healthy economic climate with strong economic and political liberty for all. Only the state workers, unions and politicians who engage in unproductive behavior are the beneficiaries – to keep their jobs.

Unfortunately, politicians demonstrate an elitist behavior instead leadership in economic patriotism. They poorly manage the economy and mandate ineffective policies. That makes us all slaves – without economic and political liberty on Independence Day 2010.

From the Coach’s Corner, if you agree with the conclusions in this column, here are contact lists of your federal public servants:

House of Representatives

Senate

The White House

PRESS RELEASE: No.1 Topic at Biz Coach Site is ‘quite a Surprise’

Press Release Celebrating The Biz Coach’s First Month Anniversary: Economic, political liberties are surprising No. 1 topic of visitors

 

Sept. 9, 2009

Yes, users are reading the performance-enhancing strategies at this new business-coaching Web site. Informative articles range from planning to technology. However, data shows the overwhelming visitor preference is public policy – and how it affects economic and political liberties.

Based in the greater Seattle area, Biz Coach Terry Corbell knows what to write for readers at The Biz Coach: www.bizcoachinfo.com, “Proven Solutions for Maximum Profits.” After analyzing the first month’s results of the site formally launched on July 29, he is happy with the reader response.

“But it is quite a surprise to learn the extent of the popularity of the first column dealing with economic policy, and economic and political liberties,” Mr. Corbell said. “I’m also surprised to learn where those readers live.”

The most-popular column suggests that governments at all levels in Washington state can help create jobs and set a leadership example for the rest of the nation – if they take new actions for economic development. The No. 1 column has a clear lead over the others – 20 times more readers than the second-place column.

“Sixty-five percent of the public-policy-minded readers are from the U.S. Five percent of them live in Washington, but 19 percent live in Michigan and 16 percent in California (70 percent of California readers live in the Silicon Valley),” Mr. Corbell added.

The most-popular column is entitled, “Analysis: Steps for Economic Success in Washington State.” It was the kickoff column to launch the site and the column continued to gain in popularity even though the site is updated every other day with a new column.

The Web site’s other 10 most-popular columns:

1. Case Study: Mistakes Companies Make When Losing Profits

2. Airbus-Boeing Rivalry: Lessons in Strategic Planning

3. 5 Safety Measures to Thwart Mounting Social-Network Attacks

4. Need a Job? Recession and Offshoring Don’t Have to Be Obstacles

5. Planning an Event? Consider 25 Emergency Preparedness Tips

6. What No One Tells You about Raising Investment Capital

7. New Strategies for International Trade

8. How Can Micro Businesses Position Themselves to Win?

9. Cause-Related Marketing Can Increase Sales by Double Digits

10. Web Security Checklist, Warning about Mobile Banking

As a business-performance consultant and profit professional, Mr. Corbell’s Web site provides proven solutions for maximum profits on eight topics:

• Planning

• Operations

• Marketing/Sales

• Finance

• HR

• Tech

• Public Policy

• Wall Street

The site also provides late-breaking video reports on each hour’s featured business story. Other news-video categories include:

• Economy

• Regulatory Compliance

• Personal Finance

• Sci-Tech

• Health

• Press Releases

The average Biz Coach visitor returns twice, reads more than six pages, and reads for more than six minutes each visit.

The top 10 countries in visitors:

• U.S. (80 percent)

• Canada

• Austria

• China

• Philippines

• Great Britain

• Sweden

• France

• Australia

As one of the Northwest’s longest-running columnists, Mr. Corbell has written 450+ business-coaching columns since 2001 for several media Web sites. He currently writes an Internet business-coaching column, The Biz Coach, for the Money News page at Seattle’s KIRO (www.kirotv.com), the “2009 National Edward R. Murrow Award Winner for Overall Excellence.”

Many of Mr. Corbell’s business-coaching columns are updated and archived on The Biz Coach Web site, which was developed by Solid Technology, www.solidtechnology.com, “Trusted Experts, Solid Results.” in Portland, OR.

He is a member of Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW). 

The New York Times featured Mr. Corbell twice in 2008. For some his business tips, simply Google each of these headlines:

• Been There… Done That… Here’s How

• Advice on Taking an Entrepreneurial Leap

As a profit professional, he developed The CMS Approach. To relieve a company’s financial stress, The CMS Approach includes a financial turnaround program on a pay-for-performance basis. Mr. Corbell provides complete solutions for a small retainer and one percent of the net-profit increase.

For external challenges, he provides a full marketing program from public relations to advertising and guarantees a 10 to 55 percent higher return on clients’ investments. He has deep media relationships and includes strategies such as social networking to newsworthy senior-executive videos, and TV commercials.

His firm, CMS Associates LLC, www.cmsassociatesllc.com, has been long-known for providing “Solutions to Increase Revenue.” CMS is an excellent company with an outstanding record of success since 1992. The firm has insights, systems and strategies to save companies time and money while increasing revenue.

Mr. Corbell is also focusing on economic development. He and KIRO are partnering to promote the economic climate of Western Washington communities.

He’s writing a book tentatively entitled, “How to Watch Your Back in the Jungle – Avoiding Business Predators.”

Space for banner advertising on The Biz Coach Web site is still available at reasonable Charter membership prices. In addition to the Web site, advertising for The Biz Coach concept will soon be available on Seattle radio, “The Biz Coach Roundtable.”  

Charter sponsors for The Biz Coach Web site and radio program will receive special incentives and priority red-carpet benefits. For details, visit “Our Services” page: http://www.bizcoachinfo.com/our-services.

Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.