Washington DC was festooned yesterday for the second inauguration of President Obama. The history, scale and self-belief on show were palpable. The achievements of America are immense: civil rights, freedoms, democracy in action, capitalism, technology; the Presidency itself. Speeches focused on togetherness, resilience, ferocious battles over belief and ideas; “hard things are really hard.” And then I was reminded of the debt.
There is the need for massive change in the economic drivers of America. The US federal government does not make sense from a business perspective. Or a household. It is phenomenally indebted. Well beyond common sense. Governments throughout history have believed that printing money will secure the day, but such self-delusion eventually creates failed states. My sense is that today most businesses do a great job of serving customers, shareholders and the community together. Governments however seem glued to a model that is not working.
My hope for the next four years of America is that the President and Congress make quick, clear, big decisions based on the right things to do, not on vested interests, lobbyists, polemic. Otherwise the next inauguration in 2017 will be a threadbare event.