True political leadership in action, American-style

Our national political leaders lie and fiddle, attempting to hide the extent of our trouble least we panic like children.  However some of America’s elected officials know what we expect of them, and meet that challenge. 

Today’s exhibit of leadership in action comes to us from TV station CBS 2 in Chicago, about Mayor Richard Daley.

Mayor Daley says corporate leaders told him huge layoffs will impact the city this month and next, and into the new year. He also says city, county and state governments should be prepared for their revenue to fall dramatically because of the souring economy. “This is going to be all year, so it’s going to be a very frightening economy,” Mayor Daley said. “Each one tells me what they’re laying off, and they’re going to double that next year. We’re talking huge numbers of permanent layoffs for people in the economy. It’s going to have a huge effect on all businesses.”

The mayor said the gravity of the situation cannot be underestimated. “We never experienced anything like this except people who came from the Depression,” Mayor Daley said. “When you have that many layoffs early – and they’re telling me this is only the beginning of their layoffs – that is very frightening.”

Mayor Daley also warned that local governments will be in jeopardy and may not have enough money to meet payroll, although he is not worried about paying City of Chicago employees.

… The City Council will take a vote on the 2009 city budget Nov. 19. The budget contains layoffs, a slowdown in police hiring, and new taxes and fines – some bad news for Chicagoans who remain employed.

Congratulations, Chicago.  You have elected someone worthy of your City!


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To read other articles about these things, see the FM reference page on the right side menu bar.  Of esp relevance to this topic:

  • about the Financial crisis – what’s happening? how will this end?
  • about the End of the post-WWII geopolitical regime
  • some Good News about America!
  • Posts about leadership

    1. The moral courage of our senior generals, or their lack of it, 3 July 2008
    2. Not every nation’s leaders lie to their people, always and routinely, 24 October 2008
    3. Is Obama running for the office of Chief Shaman?, 6 June 2008 — Weirdness from our next President.
    4. Does America need a charismatic President?, 15 July 2008
    5. More about charisma, by Don Vandergriff…(#2 in the “getting ready for Obama” series), 16 July 2008 — About charisma:  know it before you buy it!
    6. Obama might be the shaman that America needs, 17 July 2008 — At what point does criticism of Obama’s charisma and rhetoric become criticism of leadership itself — and blind faith in technocratic solutions so loved by policy nerds?
    7. Obama describes the first step to America’s renewal, 8 August 2008 — Obama’s statement about America may be the simple truth; this may be why so many find it disturbing.
    8. Biden’s gaffes are a threat to American’s complacency!, 13 September 2008
    9. America gets ready for new leadership (or is it back to the future?), 14 November 2008

    2 thoughts on “True political leadership in action, American-style”

    1. The problem with our polity – particularly with respect to economics is that – because of globalization – the President and Congress now occupy positions more closely analogous to those traditionally held by governors and state legislators, respectively.

      Local action, such as FM describes, remains possible – although there is no reason why local governments be the effective agents. Churches and civic organizations also can play a role.

    2. I must be missing something. Aside from being ‘honest’ he is just using bad times or a forecast of bad times as a rationale for passing a budget with layoffs and new fees/taxes. Leadership would be city employee and mayoral staff paycuts, and rescinding all tax breaks for any companies that lay off Chicagoans. I thought at first Mayor Daley was being pointed to in sarcasm, but now I am not sure. I guess I thought that Chicago deserved better.

      It also seems to me that the very basis of what a shareholder is has changed. Shareholders used to be people who invested in the future of a business, and what they expected where good management, regular dividends, and some level of growth and stability.

      Now, shareholders have morphed into parasites and scam artists who seek to fleece a company in the short term so they can sell at a profit, caring nothing about a companies future beyond their often fixed window for a profit. Or short sellers who would prefer a company go in the toilet so they can profit.

      To me this changes the long-standing ideal that a company’s leaders must do what is best for the sharehlders. That seems to no longer be true. Therefore when a company is losing money and chooses to shed workers in a vain attempt to placate the blood arena that the stock market has become, they are actually doing what is worst for the company, not what is best.

      Right now it seems that a corporate leader must consider protecting the company against the shareholders, whose interests likely diverge from what is most likely to ensure the company’s survival.
      Fabius Maximus replies: Most of this is irrelevant to the post, but a few points are of interest.

      (1) “he is just using … a forecast of bad times ”

      A “forecast”? You believe that business leaders are kidding when they announce layoffs? Perhaps in January they will tell their employees “Just kidding!”

      (2) “Leadership would be city employee and mayoral staff paycuts”

      How much of the total city budget can be reduced by such measures? Not as much as you appear to think. First, much of the city staff are probably covered by union contracts. Second, the remaining wages are probably a relatively small total of the budget.

      (3) “rescinding all tax breaks for any companies that lay off Chicagoans.”

      How much in “tax breaks” do you believe the average business receives from the City of Chicago? Not much, as the taxes are largely on sales and property values. Also, punishing businesses attempts to control costs in a downturn would be a wonderful incentive — for businesses to relocate to someplace with rational civic leadership.

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