Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Honesty–The Wrong Policy

I was really too honest a man to be a politician and live. – Socrates

Since a politician never believes what he says, he is quite surprised to be taken at his word. - Charles de Gaulle

The #1206 “fiction” series continues ….

The President stared at the monitors in front of him as he sat safely ensconced deep within the bowels of a secure location known only to the President, a few advisors and the men assigned to protect them.

“How bad is it?”, he asked no one in particular as images of rampant violence played before him from locations across the country.

“Worse than we anticipated”, said one of his junior advisors.  “We had hoped that we could come clean on the state of the nation and then pin it on the other party prior to the election but things got out of control once we released the information.”

“I can’t believe that we didn’t anticipate this”, the President said, the frustration evident in his voice.

He stared at the statement he held in his hand.  It contained a list of concerns for which there were no solutions that he and his advisors could think of.  Someone he didn’t know deep inside one of the government think tanks had recommended that by pinning this list on Congress, they would clear the way for election wins for the foreseeable future.

He looked up wearily at the monitors again and suddenly felt the weight of the world on his shoulders in ways he had never felt before.

The National Guard and local law enforcement, despite their best efforts, had long since lost control and by their own analysis, indicated that the best strategy was to let everyone “do their thing” until the need for violence subsided out of exhaustion.

His attention returned to the statement.  The content seemed politically loaded but safe at first blush but he could now see that the content was problematic with a significant potential for volatility.

My fellow Americans.  In the past six years, our nation has been bombarded with challenges and we have risen to the challenge as we have always done in our storied history.

The times before us, while difficult, can be overcome as we create a brighter future for our nation.  However, the other party still prevents us from carrying out policy that will ensure the safety and security of our nation.  Specifically, I continue to have concerns in the following areas:

  1. Despite hundreds of billions of dollars spent in surveillance technology, terrorists are still able to communicate in ways that cannot be deciphered and whose source and destination location cannot be traced.  They can do so with hundreds of dollars of low-tech equipment that still defies our massive surveillance industry’s ability to prevent it.
  2. Our personal debt levels are still way to high to be sustainable, with banks being responsible for making credit still too easy to obtain.
  3. Some of our banks are failing viability tests that ensure that they are financially healthy enough to carry currently identified liability loads.
  4. The Government’s ability to not have to consider social security and Medicare payments as liabilities are distorting the books and underreporting our nations true debt position.
  5. Our intention to continue raising the debt ceiling is destroying the future for our children and cannot continue.
  6. Falling oil prices threaten to take the nation out of the oil production business unless the government wants to accept the financial burden of subsidizing companies that are going out of business.  Other that that, we may be forced to accept that our economy will always be at the beck and call of OPEC.
  7. Our infrastructure is old and decrepit and requires hundreds of billions of dollars injected into it in order to prevent escalation of its physical collapse.
  8. Our energy, water, transportation, communication, financial and military systems are wide open to cyber attack from lone wolves, fundamentalist states and nations that we consider unfriendly to our nation.  A successful cyber attack against one or more of these leaves our nation extremely vulnerable from inside or outside the nation and no one can explain to me what the impact level would be.
  9. Our housing market, while promoted as desirable for investment by the real estate industry, in fact contains the same vulnerabilities contained in 2008 when, a month before the financial collapse, realtors were promoting that “now is the best time to buy”.
  10. Our calculation of unemployment figures is not accurate, having been changed repeatedly over the years until it now reflects about 1/4 of what it should be showing.
  11. Our national emergency plan is of such a confidential nature that it can only be communicated to the people once an emergency actually occurs.  While the plan is much weaker than I would prefer, how we communicate this plan to the people during a real emergency is something that no one can explain to me.

The list went on and on, referencing weak foreign policy in regards to Russia, North Korea, Iran and others, the nation’s diminished space exploration policy and the risks this presented, the escalating arms race, the true impact of the EU’s current debt loads, the impact of an aging population on a strained healthcare system and a collection of other concerns.

In the closing paragraphs, it made it clear that Congress and the Senate were to blame for all of these issues.

Unfortunately for the people who were now rioting, the realization that significant challenges existed with no visible solutions was the critical matter and not who was to blame for it.

And so the riots displayed on the monitors in front of him were the result of a poorly calculated political move.

“So much for honesty being the best policy”, he mumbled to himself.

“What was that, Mr. President?”, asked one of the advisors.

The President said nothing, his brain failing to comprehend what he was watching.  He had a strong feeling that he had been set up.

The advisor paused as he observed the President’s obvious level of angst.

“I think it is time to consider Executive Directive 51, Mr. President”, the advisor said quietly.

In a posh Washington DC office, a desk lamp provides the sole source of light.  The desk is clean except for a briefcase with the name of the owner and his title – “Senior Presidential Advisor – Special Projects”.

A prayer mat sits on the floor in front of the desk.

The room’s lone occupant kneels in gratitude.

To be continued.

© 2015 – Harry Tucker – All Rights Reserved


The items listed in the President’s statement are all true.  I considered outlining all of them here but I felt it would make this post far too long and academic.

The ending is pure “fiction” but is interesting to play with given current world events.  I have many good friends who are adherents of the Islamic faith.  This is not directed to them so those who believe I have just make a blanket statement condemning an entire faith can sit down now.

Most of the items on the list can be Googled although I caution the reader to stay away from conspiracy-laden websites as their information is often distorted or incorrect altogether.  Some of the ones less obvious are described in some of my other posts.  For example, there is actually a means of how terrorists can communicate in a manner that cannot be decoded or traced and is available for a few hundred dollars in equipment.  I describe that technique here in National Security – Arming Both Sides.

As a data person, supporting facts are critical to me when making any suggestion or argument.  If you can’t find information on any of the items mentioned here, email me and I will send them to you and / or make the sharing public.

Being afraid of reality serves no value. 

Embracing reality produces the opportunity to find solutions to the challenges that we face in business, relationships, government and the like, allowing us to reach our ultimate, unlimited potential.

Ignoring reality is a different thing altogether.

One produces comfort now.

One produces pain later.

Do you know which is which?

Do you care?

Does it matter?

Can we do better than this poster suggests?

Preservation: Action will be taken to prevent the next disaster as soon as possible after it has occurred.

 Preservation: Action will be taken to prevent the next disaster as soon as possible after it has occurred.

How do you know?

Series Origin:

This series, a departure from my usual musings, is inspired as a result of conversations with former senior advisors to multiple Presidents of the United States, senior officers in the US Military and other interesting folks as well as my own professional background as a Wall St. / Fortune 25 strategy and large-scale technology architect.

While this musing is just “fiction” and a departure from my musings on technology, strategy, politics and society, as a strategy guy, I do everything for a reason and with a measurable outcome in mind. :-)

This “fictional” musing is a continuation of the #1206 series noted here.

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