Blog Archives

FBI Director Comey: You’re Fired

Yes, this really just happened.

As is the nature of breaking news, little information is known beyond the firing of FBI Director James Comey by President Trump. However, the very unusual firing of an FBI Director does raise many questions that will be asked relentlessly in the coming days and weeks.

Why did President Trump fire FBI Director James Comey? More specifically, why right now? Why by way of a letter?

For a president who made a past career out of firing people a must-see televised event that included extensive analysis of his reasoning, this firing-by-opaque-letter is very odd.

Seems like a situation for the FBI to investigate.

The Wisdom of the Garage

Public vs. Private.

This is a fiercely debated and complex issue that has a myriad of avenues to explore and a variety of micro and macro points to consider for in-depth analysis. Today, the focus will be centered on the latest example of this classic, everlasting battle of ideology and basic societal structure.

Speaking of putting ourselves into the right mindset…

Regarding ObamaCare, the people do have a fever of frustration and the only prescription appears to be increasingly less government.

The federal government, under President Obama, has had between 2-3 years to put together a website for his signature achievement…in the 21st century…in the year 2013.

Now, healthcare is recommended to be dealt with over the phone by the government.

Can’t imagine any problems or scams there. In a related story, Nigerian princes are discovered to be very happy this week.

Aside from fact that the policy of the law is unequivocally flawed, bad, unworkable, unsustainable and unfair, let’s focus on the website. Consider that Facebook (“thefacebook” back then) was digitally built by a group of college students (granted, from Harvard) that took user’s information and compiled a personal profile for them that was capable of being viewed, updated, shared and commented on by his or her friends with seemingly no limit on activity.

It worked.

Why?

Put simply, the founders and builders of “thefacebook” had the market incentive to create the best product because of the competitive landscape in social networks. They had to be the best for survival’s sake. Therefore, the company had to recruit the best talent with the skill-set to continually innovate and improve their product for the public and, most importantly, their voluntary members. Money had to be allocated prudently and the business decisions required great intelligence and foresight.

In the private marketplace, you have to be the best or you will very likely fail and go out of business. For many, that is the bottom line and the daily reality.

Conversely, in government, there is no such marketplace. Money is provided, which is usually bloated beyond belief. Correction: The public’s/our money is provided to the government contractors and is bloated beyond belief. Even still, the transaction is done so through a maze of red tape and is absent any competitor, let alone several. The public sector is not conducive to consistently producing high quality and innovation influenced by a variety of critical market incentives, pressures and rewards.

“Our team is bringing in some of the best and brightest from both inside and outside government to scrub in with the team and help improve HealthCare.gov.” As reported yesterday by Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein, the aforementioned statement was a weekend notice from the Department of Health and Human Services.

The obvious question: Why weren’t the best and brightest brought in in the first place?

The obvious answer: The best and brightest don’t work in the government.

Silicon Valley is the hub of technological genius in the United States and even around the world. This is one of the places where the best and brightest work. Freedom to imagine is coupled with personal responsibility and monetary limitations, which creates the atmosphere for ingenuity and potentially terrific outcomes. Contemplate how many successful start-ups and society-altering companies were born in garages (Apple, HP) and small offices just outside San Francisco.

People in a garage with nothing more than a crazy, outlandish dream and a little business savvy have established a better and a more cognitive environment than the hundreds of millions of dollars the federal government doled out for the new healthcare.gov website that had years to be constructed.

If Apple or Google had premiered like this, there would be no Apple or Google today.

Actually, that’s not true.

Apple and Google never would have concocted, put together and premiered such an unworkable and fiscally unsustainable disaster for the public.

That’s the lesson from the best and the brightest.

If 2008 Was a Song

When the music stops, in terms of liquidity, things will be complicated. But as long as the music is playing, you’ve got to get up and dance. We’re still dancing.
–Chuck Prince, former CEO of Citigroup

Relating the financial sector to the popular children’s birthday game of musical chairs. That’s definitely one way to look at it.

One movie that continues to replay in my mind is, “Margin Call.” The cast consists of Kevin Spacey, Stanley Tucci, Zachary Quinto, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons, Demi Moore and Simon Baker. Not bad. The film takes place in real time during the course of 24 hours and explores a “fictional” New York investment firm that discovers its books are overwhelmed with volatile, and therefore, unsustainable assets.

Everything is about to hit the fan.

Would you like to wager a guess as to when it takes place?

All the warnings signs in the film were willfully ignored and the mountain they now had to climb was higher and more treacherous than anything the executives responsible could begin to imagine in his or her worst nightmare.

Oddly enough, it’s not just the movie that continues to remain in the back of my mind, but equally so is the music. If you go the website, “margincallmovie.com,” a song will play on repeat. The music contains zero lyrics and is downright foreboding.

There’s only so much of it I can listen to an one time until I need to hear something upbeat and fun. Still, I continue to return on occasion.

My peculiar and reluctant addiction to this song could partly be drawn from reflecting on how surreal 2008 really was, as well as the general uneasiness that’s been felt around the country for the past five years. We all know what happened in 2008. We’ve all felt the devastating effects in our lives in some way. And yet, this specific soundtrack continues to play. Nobody has stopped this music. And not just pertaining to Wall Street, but all the fiscal problems that have accumulated over time and are quickly (and obviously) reaching the boiling point with regard to government spending, debt, entitlements, etc.

There is not a universal feeling that we’ve left 2008 in the past, nor that the government is taking the necessary steps to reach solvency in the future or to implement policies to spark a people-based comeback in the now. For too many, this song and its ripple effects have not yielded. This chapter keeps adding pages, read by weary and exhausted eyes.

What’s next?

Any real discussion to curb the country’s enormous debt, deficit and entitlements is not being seriously addressed by those with the power to ultimately change the unbelievably predictable equations riddled with unsustainable constants and variables.

Incredibly, the beat goes on.

It’s not enough to believe that time alone will raise the United States from the ashes like the phoenix. Instead, this situation demands prudent fiscal policy. It will require very tough decisions. It will require sincere leadership. Like a can being kicked, the mute button won’t hide or bury the soundtrack from 2008, but alternatively needs a completely new orchestral arrangement…and conductor.

Have you ever had a song stuck in your head for a week? It’s annoying.

Imagine five years and counting.

People don’t want the music to stop, they just want to hear something different. They want to hear something optimistic and assuring, complemented with inspiring lyrics. They want a song or collection of songs written and performed for a new era in America.

All I can say is musical chairs used to be fun.

A Calm Reflection Amongst Chaos

A Thought to Ponder:

Isn’t it ironic that the very institution that is asking and demanding an enormous amount of trust from us (the people) is the exact same institution that is causing an enormous amount of distrust with us (the people) with seemingly daily revelations of targeted prejudice, secrecy, lack of transparency, lack of explanation, lack of personal responsibility and overwhelming incompetence?

Perhaps the reason why “big government” needs to be so vast is so all the bad ideas have the space and opportunity to collectively introduce themselves and become best friends forever (“BFF”). Plus, it provides ample time to disappear from a crisis for seven hours or to sail on a yacht during a military coup or to go golfing in the midst of anything important.

I’d venture to say today’s federal government and its leaders make former “BFF’s” Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie look like responsible Church Choir Girls.

Even with all their hijinks, at least Paris and Nicole were candid about who they were, what they were going to do and what they did…