What’s the future of government?

future, government

A multitude of people worldwide are discontent with their politicians. So how can government become relevant and meet expectations? The World Economic Forum addressed how politicians can respond to rapidly changing conditions and expectations in this short video:

Fairness and a shared vision are other issues of relevance that need to be addressed. How can, for instance, governments in the Middle East live up to the expectations of their citizens? Or will elected officials in the United states and Europe be able to satisfy their electorates? Will anything short of delivering what’s expected be accepted? Considering that extremists of all kinds are getting increasingly popular on a global scale is it time to make sure governments address the widening gap between rich and poor? If they don’t, democracy will suffer, as it already is in countries where extremists hold the balance of power. Or worse, are in power.

America is still the only superpower. An interesting article in The Washington Post looks at if it’s time to redefine US politics like Reagan did thirty years ago. Needless to say the direction today has to be very different since the young are against the system that Reagan implemented. What’s interesting is that if US politics are redefined it will have an impact on the world and the world economy. After writing this I came across another article by David Ignatius in the same paper that states: “We’re grappling with the same issue facing all advanced economies — how to revive growth and distribute its fruits more fairly. A United States that can tackle that problem head-on can perhaps help revive a stagnant global economy”.

Globalisation or nationalism?

Another important aspect is that government increasingly span national borders. The European Union is a good example where EU law trumps national laws. How do you create value under such circumstances? The people who take decisions in Brussels are not elected. Should they be? At the moment EU elections are just a show since the officials that are elected don’t have much power. The ones that do, are appointed which is not democratic. Isn’t it ironic that Europe, the cradle of democracy, is now governed by a non democratic institution in Brussels?

Are you content or discontent with your government? Or politicians, generally speaking? Can governments respond rapidly to changing conditions and expectations? Can they operate more effectively? Do the complex, interdependent networks around the world have parts to play? Will politicians find ways to create value that satisfy voters? Will how we are governed increasingly be done at an international level? Or will national governments and nationalism become more important? Should the European Union have more or less power over their member states? Will nationalism increasingly become a trend in order to counteract globalization? Is it time for the world to redefine how politics works? If not, will democracy suffer? In short, what do you think politicians need to do in order to regain confidence? 

Video: The World Economic Forum

80 thoughts on “What’s the future of government?

  1. This is the question that caught my eye – "In short, what do you think politicians need to do in order to regain confidence?" I believe it comes down to this – Do more, talk less. Instead of creating an environment to benefit the rich look at ways to improve the quality of life for the poor.

      1. 1. Close the tax loopholes – no need to raise taxes, just make sure that the people pay the taxes that's required of their income group.
        2. Look at the problems of the poor: inferior housing, if any. Build many more geared to income homes
        3. Provide a means for a way out of poverty. Anyone collecting welfare should be educated as to how to make better use of funds received – that is lessons in shopping, nutrition, etc and training for jobs that utilize their skills and talents.
        I know this may sound naive but I am only one person – the government has thousands along with it seems unlimited funds to be able to get started on this.
        4. The government should start using it's (rather out) money wisely. We've seen some really bad handouts here in this country and that needs to stop.

        1. It would help, Lenie, but the main problem remains that multinational corporations legally juggle money around the world and pay taxes where it's most beneficial for them or not pay any taxes at all. Another issue is that donors and lobbyists must completely lose their influence. People abusing welfare is a minor issue compared to lobbyists and multinationals juggling money around the world to avoid paying taxes. In other words, until neo-liberalism is rooted out and corporations are by llaw obliged to pay taxes where they are based and politicians can't pay back peopke they "owe" ordinary citizens will not trust politicians.

  2. The government cannot keep everyone happy- they just cannot. They focus on the majority. They are required to make key decisions which go on to affect citizens within their country.

    1. Absolutely. But so they make the majority happy? Do you realise the kind of negative impact Brexit will most likely have on the majority of people in Brexit? Not to mention if extremists get more power.

  3. With governmen any form of government there are good things and bad. And lots of issues that need to be addressed. The thought in the US with these elections seems to be we need to clean house, get rid of the career politicians and vote in a political outsider as president. Things need to change but not sure that is the solution everyone is seeking and hoping for. I think we may be in for a big surprise. Be careful what you wish for as they say.

    1. Yes, be careful what you wish for may describe the current elections in the US. Having said that there is no doubt that the political system in your country needs to change drastically. That it's impossible to be elected to any office without getting enormous donations is causing huge problems due to payback time. You can't have politicians that do what their donors want regardless of if they think it's a good idea or not. And that's what you have. Am not impressed by Obama but he did want to make changes. However, when he was POTUS he swiftly discovered that it wasn't as easy as that because of vested interests.

  4. Interesting points that your post brings up.
    Should a larger union, override the wishes of a government? In the US, the conflict is on states rights vs the national interests. I could not imagine a larger block of countries trying to influence the US, while still dealing with state and local governments.
    I do also agree, why should people who are not elected dictate to others. This is the opposite of democracy.
    Thanks for sharing this with us.

    1. Union? Glad you agree that politicians should be elected, William. In the future countries like China and India will be more powerful that the United States. Thank you for giving us your thougths.

  5. I'm happy to say that I'm pleased with my current government. My sentiment comes largely from the fact that they are new and their ears seem to be open more often than their mouths. We will see what time brings. As a lobbyist, bringing examples from other countries was a regular part of how I presented solutions, we can all learn from one another, our governments are no exception.

  6. HUGE topic Catarina! I am not embarrassed to admit I'm a proud-out-loud American, and yet I am all too aware of my country's shortcomings. There are as many things in our history to be ashamed of as there are to be proud of. I do believe it is time for serious change, we can't keep limping along as we have been. Like him or hate him, there is no question that Donald Trump has spurred more Americans than ever to open up and get involved in the election process, and I'm hopeful that will translate into a record voter turn out this year.

    Personally, I'm a grass roots kinda gal. I believe for most of us real change happens on the community level and grows out from there, so that's where I'm focusing my efforts to make a difference. Thanks for always challenging us to think about the big picture!
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  7. Catarina I think in the USA we are beyond corrupt government. Some of these gangster politicians act like they were elected to line their pockets in gold, while the rest of us suffer. They exempt themselves to many of the laws every day citizens are under and get penalized with often enough. Not sure what will happen in the current election cycle although many are hopeful, on any side of politics and any beliefs, that we the citizens really have had enough. I've been chanting with the crowds for years, "Vote the bums out," and we'll see if we cave or not in the end. In my opinion, I don't see the USA as THE superpower any longer. I've had several friends (about 6 and counting) across the world state that belief to me. SIgh.
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    1. Yes, Patricia, that's unfortunately the case. And it's high time to redefine US politics. Catch is most candidates are going to continue with more of the same. Or even worse. The US is definitely going to lose its status as a superpower but it's still the one and only. Honestly I believe the same thing that happened to the Roman empire happened to your country i.e. greed to over. When that happens the end is nigh. Until thepolitical system is changed, and it will take minimum decades, you Americans will have to live with the unfortunate effects of the rigged system. The worst nail in the coffin was probably when the Supreme Court ruled that a corporation = a person. Since that day it has not been possible to be elected to any office in the US without massive donations from corporate America. And then comes pay back time at the expense of the American people. Thankfully we don't have the same system in Europe.

  8. Some really interesting questions. One of the issues that comes to mind initally is how well do most governments keep pace with technology? There are so many ways that technology offers the promise of potentially being able to govern better but I suspect many of our governments lag behind the private sector in utilizing it. In the U.S. it is probably more likely for civic tech to be utilized in a meaningful way on a local basis rather than nationally. There is an overall trend in government in the U.S. toward austerity. Sometimes that has disastrous consequences like poisoning the water supply of the city of Flint , Mich. But it also keeps us from reaping the benefits of technology. For example, in the video one of the speakers made reference to high speed trains in C\hina while the image in the background was a Los Angeles traffic jam. But the impediment to developing a high speed rail network here is not the lack of transfer of knowledge as implied but rather the US. government's woeful neglect of our transportation infrastructure..

      1. I was thinking more along the lines of using technology to simplify government processes, improve information systems and upgrade transportation. The referendum idea is something they could easily do if they chose to. My rather cynical view of the current crop of U.S. politicians is that their primary interest in technology is more along the lines of how it can help them personally win elections.

        1. Truly wish it was that simple, Ken. Politicians all over the world, above all, need to improve voters lives. If not, the current turnoil in the world will seem like nothing. Getting back to the States, no wonder the US middle class is discontent. Many of them have not had a raise for decades. The young will not put up with it so the sooner your political system changes the better.

  9. The three most important questions in decision making are: Who decides? Who is accountable? What happens if fails? Answer these questions and I can easily tell you how free, authoritarian or totalitarian a society is; how dynamic and innovative is its economy; and how corrupt is its political system. Ronald Reagan believed that political systems should minimally interfere with people’s decisions because they are ultimately accountable and are best positioned to adapt when outcomes don’t meet expectations. By contrast, Mr. Sanders and many in national and international governance believe that they or their brethren should (1) make consequential decisions on behalf of those less capable and deserving, (2) be largely insulated from accountability and, if things go wrong, (3) be forgiven for having good intentions.

    James Madison, the architect of America’s democracy, defined the challenge of framing a government as follows: “If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed, and in the next place oblige it to control itself.” The 20th century illustrated more than any other what happens when governments aren’t “obliged to control themselves.” Those promoting Mr. Sanders’ and similar schemes frequently forget that.

    1. Can't help wondering why US politicians are not held accountable then? It is after all Reagan's system that runs US politics. In Europe politicians are more accountable than in the US. The main issue for politicians on a global scale is that they have do address the growing gap between rich and poor. Again, that's a US form of economics invented by Milton Friedman that has been exported. Am a capitalist but Milton Friedman's version of economics is robber capitalism.

      But, maybe most important, young people are not interested in a system that take from the poor and give to the rich. So it's just a question of how long it will take before politicians all over the world will have to adapt to that fact. Trying to hold on to an unfair system isn't going to work. The huge problem with refugees we have in the world is a result of Milton Friedman's version of economics. One out of seven people in the world is displaced. So unless neoliberalism is stopped we will have major unrest on a global scale. By the way don't forget that the young have not been brainwashed by neoliberalism the way a lot of middle aged people have been because they don't know much about any other form of economics and have not read Adam Smith, Keynes and so forth. Young people on the other hand are fed up and hence read and find answers.

      1. There are numerous assertions that I find wanting and which may come down to our philosophies. The first is the notion that somehow we work for the State, which then decides what is fair to distribute. When the people who distribute are not the ones who create wealth and instead seek acclamation by doing good things with other people's money and resources, they are anything but accountable. When I voluntarily spend of my own resources to help others, and I do, I have a vested interest and responsibility to see what comes of it. When someone takes it from me to distribute to whoever they deem deserving, then who exactly is accountable for what? I'm rarely impressed by those who use power to expropriate so they can take credit for being wonderful and humane with what they have expropriated. I was born into that system and felt the results on my own skin – no thank you!

        I fail to see how the rich are stealing from the poor, at least in the States. I have been economically deprived, with hardly enough to eat, in a socialist country and in the US. In the socialist country I was poor, in the US I never felt poor. Opportunities were always there if I went to school, worked and applied myself. In the socialist country, you were only as successful as a powerful politician and his bureaucrats allowed you to be. Interestingly, when Mr. Reagan was President, the economy prospered and our standard of living improved for anyone willing to take a job. Under the current administration, which is much more socialist, the rich on Wall Street have seen outstanding returns on their portfolios, while those who working for a living have struggled. I do not decry Wall Street for its success. I applaud them, but we should remember that it has largely supported Democrats and does so today. The current American system is not Mr. Reagan's system. It has moved markedly towards the European model, with all the tradeoffs involved.

        As for young people, that is a wonderful time of life to dream and believe in all kinds of things life has yet to test them on. In time, they will face the tradeoffs that previous generations have endured and will become more realistic, while younger generations will pick up the mantle for dreaming new things. God bless them for that, because while generally naive and impractical, they remind us to be realistic without becoming cynics in the process!

        1. Interesting intepretations presumbably based on how you think. For instance, work for the state? Not sure what you are trying to say that's relevant to the post you are commenting on? Are you trying to say that politicians should not serve the people that elect them? Not work on reducing the gap between rich and poor that's growing rapidly? This year the top 1% owns as much as the remaining 99%. Should politicians in your country for instance just keep on ignoring that a large section of the US middle class has not had a raise since the 70s? And let's not forget when your Supreme Court decided that a corporation is a person. Don't need to tell you what that led to. How Europe works thankfully is very different from how the US works. Democracy is not perfect but so far is the lesser evil compared to other ways of running a country. But if elected politicians don't stop catering to vested interest and start serving the people democracy is in danger.

          1. You rightly point out my lack of specificity. In the US, people who work and pay taxes, and don’t get copious amounts of government benefits and entitlements, are working an average of 114 days just to pay their taxes – Federal and State. So, for 114 days, they are working for the State. Is it important for us to recognize it? I argue that it is because those who receive benefits and those who work directly and indirectly for the government should know that what they receive, someone else had to work and pay taxes on. I habitually remind myself of that when I do work for a government entity. Politicians habitually take credit for what they do with the wealth that others created and they collected as taxes – I prefer less hubris and more modesty. It’s a fantasy, I know, but I allow myself at least this one!

            Should politicians do something about the distribution of wealth? Yes. They should get out of the way of things they don’t understand and stop putting up barriers to wealth creation. The best cure for low-paying jobs is high demand for jobs. The worst cure is government mandated wages, which is happening across the US. If this worked, then I would not oppose it – but it largely doesn’t and it hurts many people who need an entry-level job as a first step to bigger things. I observe the economy for my own work. What I have noted is how many low-skilled jobs have been eliminated since politicians started “fixing” the problem. Automation is exploding in the US; robotics and web-based services are replacing entry jobs and, increasingly, the next tear of jobs as well. And government agencies often lead the way. So, where you had 100 entry jobs paying a low wage, say $10 dollars per hour, you now have less than half that many making $15/hr. The others get laid off and many end up as supplicants to the government who killed their entry into the workforce.

            In Connecticut, the State started increasing taxes to deal with these problems, so companies moved to other States. California has been losing many of its best jobs to States with lower taxes, less regulations and better business climate. I can also illustrate the process in my own work, which frequently requires services from other people and companies. I look for these through various on-line portals, such as Amazon, where I put out requests for goods and services. I have selected a number of them that were delivered as requested, and only after I paid the bills and got my receipt did I realize it was an Australian, Brit, German, etc. because of the monetary conversion information. This is a complex-adaptive environment, speaking mathematically and systematically, which means that it is fundamentally uncontrollable. You can influence it, but you cannot control it. Influence it positively by creating a good business climate and businesses will come and do business with you. Get politicians in the way and many businesses will go where they can find a better environment. That doesn’t mean that there is no role for government, but when governments through their power create artificial points of convergence (apologies to all for the tech stuff, but I really don’t know how else to say it), then the odds of catastrophic failures, such as the subprime debacle will follow. So far, governments have continued operating as if this was the first half of the 20th century – good luck with that!

            On the Supreme Court, it is a well-established American principle that speech is to be protected and that the more speech, the better. Unions, Companies and other institutions are treated this way because, in our modern age, they add to political, philosophical and all other kinds of speech. I don’t always agree with what corporations, Unions and others say, but I do value their right to say it.

          2. Have you ever lived, worked/studied and integrated in other countries apart from where you were born (Cuba, maybe?) and the United States? Taxes have been paid throughtout history i.e. if you want to be a citizen of a state you have to pay taxes one way or another. But for some reason this has become a huge issue in the US with politicians wanting to get rid of the state and taxes. Anyway, what happened in New Hampshire clearly shows a phenomena that's going on all over the world which is what this article is about. Like it or not, voters are keen on politicians that are against the established political class. Anyway, you have the right to believe whatever you want and considering that you live in the States it's natural that you are influenced by political thinking there. Let's just leave it at that and I hope that whoever is elected president in your country doesn't turn out to be a disaster for the world. Wish you a fantastic weekend!

  10. How I wish the gap between the rich and poor would close in the UK and other countries. It is painful to know the basic needs of some are not being met. Here in the UK, many families are turning to food banks as their salaries are just not stretching. London house prices are increasing daily, yet the poorest cannot afford to move out and spend hundreds on commuting fares. Not to mention people starving in developing countries………..

  11. Catarina, this is not a good time to ask me about government leadership. We have at this time a Federal leader without the knowledge or intelligence to run a country and who is being manipulated by backseat boys and courted by Hollywood.
    We also have a Provincial leader and her gang who are working very hard to drive our province into bankruptcy and to increase homelessness and child poverty.
    Unfortunately, we do need someone in charge – I just wish that the people who vote for these characters would do some homework before voting.


  12. Satisfied how my local is run. Not satisfied how the state is run. And have a few issues with the federal government as well. Should politics be redefined? I believe, to some degree. I feel that each levels need to be responsible and receptive to the citizens. The local and state should be more involved than the federal. All need to recognize truly that they need to be available to the people they represent.

  13. Well we have almost fully transioned into the information age or whatever historians will call, what is clear is that the industrialitazion age is grasping for its last breaths. The old power are being replaced by new. The most sought after commodotiy is no longer credits but information. This information will ultimately be used for artificial or virtual intelligence. Machines that will help us colonize new worlds and extend life. Or it will be used against humanity to opress us. And who wouldbe the opressors government. We must stop voting for politician that are stuck in the last age. Those without visions, those that are want to censor, those scared of the internet. They are now the vast majority, and very very dangerous to us all.

    1. Industrialization took place a long time ago in the West, Martin. But it is very much going on in the developing world i.e. where more than 80 percent of the world's population live.

  14. The EU is suffering from the same problems as the US Government. Too many small pieces, in the US it's towns, cities, counties, and states, that need to fit into a larger, cohesive unit at the Federal level. As we become a world where every decision made is scrutinized almost instantly our politicians, who in the end are just men and women like us, with hopes, dreams, fears and problems, have become weathervanes spinning in the wind rather than barometers gauging our needs.
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    1. True, Kire. But what's worse in Europe is that the member states frequently have different cultures. But a way has to be found where politicians in governments spanning a whole continent, or even the world are held accountable. They can't just do whatever they want. If they do, we might as well have dicatorships of technocrats who, unlike many politicians, have knowledge of the issues at hand.

  15. Nationalism and Globalization both are necessary but we should prefer nationalism first. Because we are losing our cultures and ideology. In many ways, nationalism is the foundation of modern society and social solidarity. It is often used by politicians to promote national unity and patriotism. But it is also often used to justify otherwise unacceptable behaviour. Overall, nationalism has caused as much grief as good.

    In the 21st century we are living in a world which is becoming 'smaller' in a sense with the fact we are becoming increasingly more interconnected through trade, commerce and comunication, where buisnesses operate on a global scale, where people can live and work in diffrent nations and where we exchange information instantaneously accross the web, globalisation then has taken off at a rapid rate.

    I just saw a cartoon. Welfare was Never Intended to be a career opportunity. In the US the government is not focusing on the problems at hand, but will get in elected in 2016. It would be nice if a politician actually kept a promise. Warren Buffet had a great idea for the US. All elected officials would get their benefits. Once they are out office the benefits cease to exist just like they do for everyone else. That would make a difference as the govwernment would not be spending so much time taking care of their own and boy would it free up a lot of money.
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    1. Good points, Arleen. The problem of politicians getting their benefits even when they are no longer in office is global. Agree completely with Warren Bugget. Remember when Greece implemented severe austerity measures and at the same time their government increased benefits for themselves? That's a prime example of what to do in order to make people lose trust in a government.

  16. With the questions you posed, you certainly eliminated the possibility of one word comments;-) I'm not even sure where to begin. In trying to decide the best model for its governance, I think the EU should be mindful of the United States experience. The US Constitution was developed in 1787 to try to unify 13 disparate colonies, all with their own interests. One compromise, as a result, was not to outlaw slavery because otherwise, the southern states would not agree to the federation. Less than 100 years later, we had a tremendously bloody Civil War which some, especially in the states that lost, are still bitter about. We have direct election for all federal legislators and for the presidency. In my lifetime (59 years), the country has never felt so fundamentally polarized. The latest move in one state is to try to pass a state law stating that the state legislators (in the state government) can nullify and not follow any federal laws to which they object. This is blatantly unconstitutional, but there are quite a few self-declared conservatives and libertarians who feel they have to "take our country back". One can only hope that this does not devolve into violence although its hard to imagine the US military doing what the Egyptian military did recently. Even though President Obama was elected and then re-elected, the opposing Republican party has managed to tie up many of the initiatives he campaigned on in the House of Representatives which they control and in the Senate where they can invoke a rule (the filibuster) that requires a super-majority of 60 votes (out of the possible 100). I would imagine that nation "state" interests in the EU will be even more polarizing and paralyzing. (And now I need something for my headache (and heartache) ).
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    1. Good comparison, Suzanne. Politics in your county is frankly a joke at the moment. And what's worse, it has a negative impact on the whole world economy. Having said that so has the mess in the Euro zone. And it will definitely be much more difficult to make the diverse member states of the EU agree.

      1. I just re-read my initial comment and I have to correct something. We do not, in fact, have direct elections for president in the USA. We have something called the electoral college which makes it possible for a person to win the most votes from individuals, but lose the presidency. This happened in 2000 when Al Gore received the most votes, but because of the way the electoral college divvies up the votes via the electoral college based on the states, GW Bush became president.
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        1. Yes, Suzanne. That's a heritage from your founding father that can end up with the person that got most votes not being elected president. If I remember correctly it was Benjamin Franklin that came up with the idea in order to get the smaller states to agree to the way federal elections should be carried out.

  17. I'm not totally agree with the idea that the European institutions are not democratic, because we all elect the parliment, and it's the parliment and the prime ministers of the EU's countries who elect the members of other institutions like ECB or European Comission. I think it's not that different to a non direct election, quite common in a lot of countries of Europe where people choose the parliment, and it chooses the President. Otherwise, a lot of ministers ar ussually not elected members of the parliments in Europeans democracies and I think the paralelism it's clear.

    1. The way the European Union works would most likely be OK if EU law didn't trump national law, Arranz. The minimum that could be expected is that at least the president of the European Council was elected by the people of all EU member states. Indirect democracy isn't good enough for an institution that has as much power as the European Union.

      1. Well, it's enough for Italy, UK, Spain, Japan, Chile, Perú, Argentina or México, countries that nobody would say are not democracies. In addition, the trump between European Union law and the EU member's law is because their own goverments allowed that posibility, as any other diplomatic agreement. It's true that European institutions are far away from the population, but I think it's too much by saying theres no democratic institution in Eu…

  18. Nice blog, and good questions! The short answer to the question of the future of government is that we will see change, eventually, if government doesn't get better at serving society. The values politicians can create are basically individual and group well-being. Unfortunately, thay are not doing that here in the US, and may not be elsewhere either, in many cases because special interests have the money to move politicians whose self interest is re-election and power accretion. My predicition is that here in the US we will continue to see politicians balance the needs of the people against the needs of the special interests in such a way as to avoid catastrophic rebellion (e.g., riots in the streets). The 2007 crash almost pushed us over the edge here, but media propaganda has come a long way since 1929, so it was more manageable this time. To me, the most important question to answer is what are the best success strategies in this evolving environment.

    1. Agree with you Jim that the main problem is the power special interest have. They are powerful in all countries but above all in the United States since your supreme court ruled that a company =a person. It happened a few years ago, remember.

    1. Absolutely correct, Susan. Implementing ideological policies is having a really detrimental impact on the world and in a company the politicians would, as you say, have been sacked.

  19. Catarina – Ever since Obama was elected to office I have heard from many people how terrible he is and how he has screwed our country. I am not saying he is perfect but what some people seem to forget is he was brought into office when there were already problems. He not only has to prove himself but also clean up what is already wrong. I honestly believe not one single person has the answer. It takes a team and that is where we fall short.
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  20. Thanks for starting this discussion, Catarina. Stimulated a lot of thought today as I wrote my weekly column: All Governments Fail Eventually

        1. Dan, have personally worked with the majority of governments in the world, and in my opinion, a government that is "great" delivers what they promise. A poor one doesn't. Look at it like a corporation. If shareholders – i.e. voters – are discontent it is a "poor government" and the board will fire them.

          1. So then maybe it's not so much that "great" governments fail, as it's great governments deteriorate (as I wrote in my column) and then fail? According to US polls, America has a poor government.

          2. All governments get voted out Dan. It's just a question of how long it takes. Sometimes they actually get the blame for circumstances outside of their control. Why? Just because they happen to be in power when something takes place. Sometimes they deteriorate, as you say. That frequently happens when they have been in power too long.

  21. One way that I am currently discontent with U.S. Government is the how slow the federal minimum wage is to increase. There's a huge push right now to double it. Then many people start to blame low wage workers for being stuck in low-wage jobs. The irony is that many people do not realize how they are already subsidizing stores like Wal-Mart because a good number of their employees are already on public assistance, but so be it sine the store offers such low prices. I no longer shop at Wal-Mart because of how they treat their employees. As a whole, U.S. consumers need to re-evaluate what how they choose to spend their money. The bigger picture often gets overlooked.
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    1. Good points that I agree with Jeri. If it's a comfort it's the same everywhere. And this nonsense that unemployed people don't want to work. Sure there is a tiny amount of people who belong in that category. But the majority are unemployed because all the jobs that disappeared in the current economic depression. And since those jobs will not be recreated employment will stay high.

  22. Technology is not the answer here, USA, in my opinion. We have to clean house. There is so much corruption due to the structure of keeping politicians in for a life time. They have voted themselves pensions for life, on taxpayers dimes, so the likelihood of changing term limits is slim. The other biggest problem is the PACs that give the politicians money to run their campaigns: most of that comes from large corporations. Changing the way PACs run would help clean house too. From what I see in the news here, this type of government is widespread throughout the world.

    But really Catarina, having had this type of discussion many times with various friends and acquaintances, the likelihood of changing the power, greed and corruption in particular at the federal government level, is not likely to happen in my lifetime.

    So far now I am active where I can be to change representatives, I remain prayerful and I don't hesitate to use social media to post both sides of an issue to stir the apathy into interest in anyway it might.

    1. Agree with you Pat. And, as you rightly point out, the same applies to governments worldwide. Another issue is if they believe they will not be elected they want to make sure they end up on the board of some multi national company. Maybe Europe will become a problem. The Europeans are not used to be poor but poverty is increasing due to the austerities implemented to pay back banks. There is a fine line between anger and unrest.

  23. I have long since lost any confidence in government. You can find governments that do some things better than others, sure. But until governments actually work for the people they manage I will remain as far away from them as possible. My hope is that I will live long enough to see a change take place where government actually is run by the people it governs.
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  24. I think one could write a book (or several!) on this topic, Catarina, so I'll try to summarise:
    1. The EU (and the Euro) should not survive in current form. There either needs to be a freely and properly elected government with sovereign currency (United States of Europe, in effect), or a trade body. At the moment, it is the worst of both.
    2. EU law should not be able to override national law, unless the EU body is properly elected.
    3. In general, I believe the rise of the "professional politician" – somebody who has studied PPE/equivalent at university and gone straight into politics without ever having worked in or run a proper business is a disaster. Politicians should have had practical work experience of at least 20 years before entering politics. That way they'll know what they talk about.
    4. Democracy as currently practised in the West is ultimately self-defeating. As more social benefits are put in place – effectively buying votes from the largest segment of the population – so this will continue to expand until point of collapse. Countries today are, in effect, huge conglomerates and should be run more along corporate lines, with the citizens being, in effect, shareholders. Complicated, controversial and beyond the scope of this post, I know 🙂

  25. Catarina — you ask a lot of thoughtful questions. I would say generally that people around the world have lost confidence in their governments. Too much worry about getting re-elected, the inability to compromise for the good of the people, broken promises, etc. I love my country but I, like like of people, am disillusioned with the people in power.
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    1. Well said, Jeannette. Agree with you completely about people having lost confidence in their governments, their focus on getting re-elected, broken promises and inability to compromise.

  26. In Australia, at the last election there were very few people who wanted to vote for either of the two main parities. That led to no clear majority. Since then, we have had leadership spill issues and once again two parties that make it difficult to decide who to vote for.
    Something Kevin Rudd is doing well however is appealing to the younger voters and getting out there on social media. His popularity is putting his party in front of the polls at the moment. It is interesting to watch.
    I unfortunately do not have the answers. I wish there was a clear cut way to move forward for the better.
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    1. Isn't it interesting, Rebecca, that in many countries the political parties don't stand for what their citizens want? And the small parties that are discontent frequently don't either. So no matter what we do we end up having politians in power that implement policies we don't want.

  27. This is a subject close to my heart. The provincial government where we live decided to privatize the Crown corp where my husband and I were working back in 1990 for no reason other than ideology. I despise when decisions are made due to political ideology vs looking at the situation and seeing whether the organization is working well as it is.

    1. Doreen, decisions made due to political ideologies despite it being negative for the people is spot on. They do it worldwide to benefit multinationals and the people pay the price.

  28. Our governments are as effective as we make them. My biggest concern about government is our growing collective cynicism or apathy. It will undermine all that we have built. The situation in Brussels is more than ironic, its terrifying. If we are not careful and if we don't as citizens do more than turn away in disinterest or disgust we will find ourselves with nothing more than benevolent dictatorships…benevolent if we are lucky. Our own engagement and insistence on better government will mean we have the governments we want and need. That means voting, but also paying attention after we vote. Democracy only works when you are engaged.
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    1. Agree with you completely, Debra. The catch in Sweden is that there is not political party that stand for what you and I want. Not only me but all people I know feel the same. Neo liberal policies has, for instance, a hard grip on politicians and how do you change that when there is no alternative?

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