Overview: Voters Empowerment for Government Accountability (VEGA)
Several of you have provided interest of a vehicle I describe as VEGA (Voters Empowerment for Government Accountability) based on over 3 decades experience working in our government.
Below is an introductory discussion of a process designed toward providing enhanced accountability, transparency and oversight of our 3 branches of government consistent with, and following the principles of our Constitution.
Since live in Iowa (Iowa Caucus), numerous friends and relatives supported me to present to the candidates. I discussed this with both camps and one candidate. This candidate told their chair later it made a very positive and lasting impression, but they did not pursue as impression I was left with was too radical.
The document below is just an explanation of the concept, have more detailed documents. It is from September 2008 and in boldfaceis my accurate assessment of our financial situation (before was aware of Chris Martenson.
No solution is easy, this document below will take you a bit of time to read and ponder, but every person’s feedback received has been encouraging.
Please provide any comments and thoughts, if disagree, explain why.
Thanks for your time and interest,
FIXING OUR BROKEN FEDERAL GOVERNMENT–THROUGH VOTER EMPOWERMENT FOR GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY
“WE THE PEOPLE”, the first three words in our Constitution are cited as the most recognized and admired 3 words or phrase in any Government Document in the world. The pillar of respect for and protection of individual human rights and liberties articulated in our Constitution and Declaration Of Independence define our core values and beliefs as a nation. Studies around the world in nearly every country of their people show it is our most admired trait. Our founding fathers in numerous dialogs and documents in the hallmarks of history fervently believed Government existed to serve and be fearful of the people…not a people abused and fearful of government. In the next several paragraphs below, we will build the case our political system is increasing flawed and outlines a process of returning more power, accountability and transparency of our government to the people. For reference, it’s called “VEGA” for Voter Empowerment for Government Accountability. The reader is urged to consider the premise our government is not meeting the needs of our people under the ideals of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. To frame properly why VEGA is needed and how it can make our government better, we must define and understand our problem.
Our country has reached a crossroads that periodically occurs in the natural course of human history. Dozens of polls consistently show public confidence and trust in our government institutions and particularly its leaders are at all time lows. As we are aware, nearly daily we observe an event reinforcing concerns of lack of judgment, failure in our leadership toward productive long term results while exacerbating inefficiencies and reinforcing the rule of special interests and abuse of power. This is a process that earnestly began in the 1940’s and 1950’s and was initially articulated by Harry Truman and emphasized more by Dwight D. Eisenhower. Review of the facts and decisions made in subsequent paragraphs will show an uneven trend toward reward for inefficiencies and failure that are resulting in a lower quality of life for all. Our elected officials nearly unanimous and constant tone of partisan blame and allegiance to intolerant ideologies are in deep contradiction to the values and morals cited as vital and necessary outlined in George Washington’s Farewell Address To The People. His letter was praised and endorsed by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln and others as the finest document of good governance besides the Constitution and Declaration Of Independence. The recent increasing trend of partisanship by our elected officials has resulted in an increased frustration and resentment of the people for our leaders and government. For example, data from 2007 comparing voter participation in the USA with the 30 other leading world democracies shows the USA ranking dead last. A healthy democracy must have the participation, support and confidence of its people.
A powerful method that illustrates how serious our situation has become is the use of polling data on the peoples opinion of our government. For brevity, nearly all of us know we have a serious problem. Here is a sobering sampling of the peoples views of Government from over 50 polls taken in the past two years…all the rates are 60 to over 90+ percent and show little variances along demographic and partisan lines: (1) Lack Of Trust In Government To Do The Right Thing; (2) Federal Government Doesn‘t Represent the Will of The People; (3) Both parties corrupt; (4) USA wrong track; (5) Congressional Disapproval; (6) Presidential Disapproval; (7) Media Bias and Allegiance to Special Interests Versus The People; and (8) Unqualified candidates with lack of competition and choice. Our leaders actions and tone of blame by definition decries un-professionalism and routinely illustrates a lack of leadership as they are unable to or refuse to believe they and the system is at fault and more important, how to correct it. Two recent examples are the 110th Congress and The Presidency. The 110th Congress from data spanning over more than two decades has passed the fewest “laws” of any other Congress…application of management efficiency standards would categorize the 110th as one of the most inefficient and ineffective ever. President George W. Bush has presided over a growth of a true on and off books Budget Deficit that is now the highest as percent of GDP since WW II contrary to his projections of reduction of debt by ½ when he leaves office. This identifies negative skill in judgment, management and vision capabilities in the executive branch . The judicial branch record of decisions and litigation trends using analysis suggests its putting our people and nation also at risk.
Analysis of the above and many issues outlined below can be made indicating our Government is broken and more serious, is getting worse. Many of our government leaders would say the upcoming election of Individual A or B or instilling all or part of Party X or Y would solve the problem. The data clearly shows the opposite, they are a major, if not primary, part of the problem. The views and attitudes of the people show they realize this. To solve and instill the proper corrective process to fix we need to delve further into the biggest problems in our government…our leaders and the decision making process.
Numerous studies over several decades identify common themes that identify healthy, vibrant and growing democracies. These include voter education and empowerment leading to participation; accurate information and proven management standards systems available at all levels for proper decision making; electing and developing competent leaders with vigorous elections; and transparency and accountability at all levels. These themes are most recently elegantly broached in “Fixing Failed States” by Ghani and Lockhart. Reviewing the professions of our elected officials illustrate the large majority are lawyers and professional politicians. Regardless if this apportionment is wise to meet all the requirements listed above for a vibrant democracy; a second point is the lack of a process to ensure these individuals, despite their best intentions, have developed and maintain the skills for proper analysis…skilled decision making…constructive teamwork and efficient and effective problem solving skills to balance a self motivated, inward desire to stay elected.
There is a human failing for individuals to fulfill selfish desires and is the reason for our founding fathers adoption of the checks and balances of our current government. However, the increasingly powerful influences of special interests are dominating large aspects of all party platforms and with our political party process, impacting operations of all 3 branches of government. The consequence is molding a groupthink culture versus objective problem solving and decision making to do what‘s best for the people. This is overwhelmingly in evidence in the barrage of ads by advocacy groups (a type of special interest) in various media outlets to convince the public to further pressure elected officials to do the right thing…notably take their side versus defining the problem and apply analytical problem solving protocols for the best solution for the common good. Institutionally…Congress is routinely identified as a lawmaking branch…though technically correct, it really is (as is the White House) a decision-making branch. Here is one of the biggest keys as to why our government is broken…is it wise to have the majority of our elected officials as professional politicians and lawyers versus objective, skilled decision makers and problem solvers? Do they have the training and are the correct checks and balances in place to do their jobs properly? The data says no.
Personal experiences with elected officials in multiple projects over nearly the past 3 decades revealed despite their good intentions, two serious flaws that are getting progressively worse and tie into the previous paragraph. These apply overall for all elected officials…Congress and the White House: (1) Flawed, often incomplete information and objective understanding, buttressed by partisan and special interest filters; (2) Degraded decision making problem solving skills by skipping key management fundamentals which should be mandatory and transparent at all levels. Two recent examples include the Iraq war decision and the way it was run for several years and our financial meltdown the past year or so (have we identified the causality or are we looking for a quick fix and/or blame for political purposes). The real reason is not obfuscated, but no one is telling the emperor(s) (or the people) he has no clothes on. This has been happening in increasing frequency for decades…most of the people intuitively know…but do the politicians and others want to come clean and be honest?
Our current system of Government provides the people limited capability to hold our government accountable through currently voting for party X or Y. This was the greatest concern of our founding fathers, particularly Thomas Jefferson; who ironically both parties supposedly extol as a pillar of foundation in their history. Three major issues below are specific examples illustrating the accelerating failure of our government. A common theme is the tolerance of and sometimes rewarding of inefficiencies and failure, allegiance to special interests versus the people as a whole that ultimately, by the universal laws of society, are resulting in a lower standard of living for all and if unchecked increased social unrest. This slippery slope is aggravated by the natural desire to develop and expand entrenched, institutional bureaucracies (one example is the military industrial complex warned by Eisenhower…there are many others who are now even more powerful) which are self evident. In government…this is often referred to as building your empire by doing everything necessary to make you look increasingly important and irreplaceable. Now let’s look at three areas of among dozens that further illustrate the problem.
Degraded Education System. The first is our education system. Review of results versus costs clearly indicate a flawed and increasingly broken system that is vital to our democracy and standard of living as identified earlier. In the past 20 years, the percentage of money spent toward a College Education has dropped from 33 percent to 28 percent for actual tuition and books (less of our money is going to education) while College costs rose at over twice the rate of inflation. Through government programs, we are subsidizing institutions for inefficiencies which the people bear the ultimate brunt of. Secondary education situation is arguably more dire. Comparing our children to the rest of the world shows we are getting poorer results for our increased education dollar, in essence, we are falling behind the rest of the world in educating our children. In the past 15 years, 8th graders education performance fell from 2nd to 15th among the 30 most developed countries. Yet, our cost of secondary education has risen from 5.0% in 1998 to 5.7% in GDP for 2007. World data shows a strong linkage of the higher the percent of education spent per GDP the poorer the country. Extrapolation of our trends for the next 20 years using this data suggest the USA could fall into the category of a developing world nation status versus our leading developed world status if not solved. This is independent of other problems such as energy, health care and fiscal policy among many others that would exacerbate further the degradation in our quality of life and role in the world.
Rapidly Rising Health Care Costs. Out of Control Health Care costs are on a per capita cost basis, a bigger threat. Numerous studies (the most notable the GAO) conclude our current health care system is unsustainable. Health care costs as a percentage of GDP rose from 4% in 1962 to 16% in 2006; showing too often a system where incentives are structured to facilitate inefficiencies and waste (most notably…Medicare and Medicaid) which further burdens the people. The USA in 2005 spent $6401 per capita, the highest in the world compared to a mean of $2,918 or 2.2 times more of the 30 most developed democracies. The GAO reports the current rate of rise of health care costs will bankrupt our government health care programs within a decade. Is the government addressing it? No.
Developing Government Insolvency. We have a fiscal cancer. Add the 2 issues above, plus the increase in numerous other federal programs rising faster than GDP and our incoming revenue growth the past several decades. We are rapidly nearing the inability of paying our debts which was abhorred by George Washington and our founding fathers. Numerous public and private organizations, most notably the GAO, CBO, OMB state our rising national debt is rapidly becoming unsustainable. Studies indicate tax increases of 50 to 70 percent within roughly 30 years are necessary. Financial models suggest the people can’t afford this and will result in a much lower standard of living. Even if this is possible, spending reductions of up to 100 percent are also required for our government to operate in a sound fiscal manner. Analysis illustrates we are already experiencing impacts of this fiscal cancer in our growing financial sector problems the past two years. The recent series of bailouts of taxpayers money the past couple of months with key elected officials remarking they have no responsibility for the problem reveals their lack of understanding of their role in the problem and their desire to hold themselves accountable. The bailouts accomplished the past few months and quite possibly still more to come (which many experts indicate the government is at least partially if not primarily responsible for from actions undertaken the past 20 years) suggest our annual deficit could exceed well over 1 Trillion dollars…the greatest percent of our GDP since WW II. This questionable, convoluted process illustrates no evidence this is addressing or solving the problem(s). Keeping the debt “off the books” shows highly questionable if not improper accounting practices and a lack of transparency to the people, a violation of their oath to the people. Here is one more example among dozens showing the subversion of a government unchecked by lack of accountability and transparency to the people. A few more among numerous other issues should be briefly mentioned. No energy policy for 30 years despite multiple studies showing the catastrophic impacts and risks to our nation we are now just beginning to experience. The immigration issue still is not being addressed after 30 years with the threat to our rule of law (Mexico Drug violence spreading into America), risk of terrorism, limited accountability to employers who hire illegal aliens resulting in lower wages to US citizens and risking a form of voluntary servitude to unscrupulous individuals violating our ideals and our Constitution. Campaign finance reform…current system stifles true competition…special interests influence…most qualified people not involved…resulting in political mercenaries. Where are our elected officials in solving these?
The past several decades the data shows a government of all 3 branches that tolerates, if not rewards inefficiencies and failure versus too often not promoting productivity, innovation and positive results for the people. History shows a government will and does succumb to the worse of human nature by gathering power. The only check and balance is the role of the people and is why our Constitution starts with ‘WE THE PEOPLE”. Without independent accountability and transparency to the people…history and recent trends show any government ultimately abuses the people. Lord Acton in 1887 stated “Power tends to corrupt; and absolute power corrupts absolutely“.
There is a somewhat straightforward solution to this…“Voter Empowerment of Government Accountability” (VEGA). In basic terms, VEGA restores the check and balances of our government back to the people. It creates an independent, non partisan auditory agency called “Voter’s Over site Panel” (VOP) that works for and reports directly to the people on the effectiveness and inefficiencies of all 3 government branches using the highest and most sound, proven management standards (such as Peter Drucker, Edward Deming, Joseph Juran and others). It outlines a process of real enduring and true Government accountability and performance assessment. Through a tiered systematic partnership with voters…it facilitates professional processes to motivate, and if needed, require and then force affected Branches to address and solve long term issues endorsed by the people and VOP. This process empowers improvement through greater voter involvement and reinvigorates our basic human rights of WE THE PEOPLE! It puts into closer practice Abraham Lincoln’s comments in the Gettysburg Address; “government of the people, by the people, and for the people”. It directly promotes George Washington’s plea in his Farewell Address To The People.
VEGA takes the GAO/IG/OMB/CBO/DOJ offices (and any others with similar functions) so all auditory, over site and budget functions are out of the hands of the government branches and directly to the people. Functionally, they would report directly to VOP who endorses and then sends these reports to the people for their comments and concerns and requires impacted branch(es) to address. This obviates the temptation to manipulate programs and the budget and puts true over site authority to the people requiring response and/or required change by all leaders of substandard performance and unresolved issues endorsed by the people. VOP’s authority besides assessing and measuring performance is its mission of budgetary, legal, organizational transparency and reform by putting their full resources to audit and report to the people on the 3 branches. It grades government branches and elected officials using objective metrics of results back to the people. It acts as a liason with the people and annually solicits and reports to the people on their constitutional concerns and recommendations to make each branch more organizationally efficient and effective and require each branch to redress back to the people at each election. In summary, VEGA is an over site agency of all 3 Government branches that protects and reports to the people, allowing a process to improve government efficiency using the highest management standards while empowering voters to solve any problem to the satisfaction of the people. Through transparency and accountability it could invigorate our values…morals and standards that define the soul of any society.
Proposed VEGA Benefits
Besides transparency and greater accountability to the people VEGA can…
Enhance the learning process, leading to problem solving, solutions and improvements.
Holds irresponsible actions accountable through transparency to the people.
Further protects and promulgate individual empowerment and rights.
Provides objective, independent review of wrongdoings of Elected Officials versus special interest driven or manipulation of current system.
Dissipates influences of special interests and ideological dogma by proven management techniques and results.
Instigates through restoring a balance of power of 3 agencies back to the people a process to solve any issue consistent with our Constitution and Declaration Of Independence.
Reverse the monarchical trend in our elected officials by using proven performance based deeds versus election by popularity supported by special interests.
Promote greater World respect and support by increasing power to the people and instilling a proven 21st managerial process to remedy all pressing issues.
Finally, this proposal directly reflects our founding fathers beliefs and desires for us as a nation in the following excerpt from our Declaration of Independence…
“…We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”
This is only a draft proposal of ideas, far from complete because it‘s only an introductory broad first step, done by one person making it quite imperfect and needing the insight and wisdom of others. If others support some of the concepts, with many of us pushing forward, there is potential for this idea in some form to become a vehicle toward making our country work better for all the people. A magnificent Redwood tree still starts from a seed that only requires water….fertile ground and a nurturing environment.
Ultimately, the future is in our hands. We can stay on the same path of the past several decades or pursue the promise of our dreams for a better tomorrow for all. As a father of five, my goal is to see all of us have a better life, not a worse one. With thirty years experience in government and seeing how it works…this has been achieved on modest government scales…it’s adopting and making it be done on a national scale of government for all the people. If we have the will…this idea can grow and flower into our reality.
Finally, history shows, and our founding fathers fervently believed that the strength of any nation is its adherence to the best values and morals of humankind. VEGA is designed to promote and strengthen these and return our government to the people.
If you agree…pursue this with others…officials…media…it’s a starting point toward creating a dialog for real, positive and enduring reform and change versus talk.