Politics around the world is in a state of dysfunction and the consequences are frightening.
Politics around the world and especially in the Western World reminds me of a game called ‘Tetris’. It’s an electronic game where you slot different shaped pieces together as they appear on the screen. They have to be placed correctly in relation to each other before they reach the bottom. If not, they’re locked into the place where they land. The pieces start to flow faster and faster and each poor decision locks you into to an ever increasing and fast approaching demise. Fortunately with Tetris you can simply start again. In world affairs, you’re lucky if you get the chance to start over. And despite the now famous 24hour news cycle and the perception of a chaotic pace for change, I think the opposite is true. The current system has crippled our ability to actually do anything. My concern is that by the time the world digs a little deeper than 140 characters into the world’s problems will be too late.
As professional marketer, when I’m called in to study a company and advise on marketing solutions, my first objective is to identify the problems in the business and get to the root cause of them.
As a conscientious global citizen, I have been trying to apply the same theory to what’s going on in the world. It’s been a tough exercise. Nonetheless I now feel compelled to share some of my observations and potential solutions.
Observation 1 – Politics V Commerce
When it comes to Commerce most businesses, politicians and people recognize we live and operate in a global economy. Politics however, does not operate in a global economy. Each country in a democracy votes for their political leaders based on the local issues that affect them most. Very few voters in national democracies vote on the global issues impacting the world. They are far more influenced by local issues, political personalities and local media operators. As I come from a first world country and still believe that democracy is the best political system available at the moment, I conclude that any other type of political regime in operation now is even less likely to succeed in a global economy.
As Commerce exerts its growing influence over the global economy, how do we make sure Politics has the checks and balances in place to manage the phenomenon? Here’s a thought. What if all national elections were international. That is, what if anyone with the internet could vote in all National elections? Talk about a blast of global perspective. Obviously there would need to be systems developed to ensure the integrity of international votes, but just imagine it. I’m of the view that the impact of Corporates in markets outside where they originate would significantly influence how international voters vote in national elections. As an example, I think many Australian’s would appreciate being able to vote in the next US federal elections…
Observation 2 – Global Problems are driven by Global Commerce and Affect all National Politics
Despite national governments being elected on local issues, global problems affect a government’s ability to solve local problems. Take the global refugee crisis. I would argue that the wars that are causing such despair have roots in global Commerce. There are people who will argue that religion or land have caused more wars than Commerce. I say in all those conflicts, how much influence does trade have? So let’s look at Australia and the refugee crisis. I despair at all Australian government’s handling of refugees trying to seek asylum in our country. Yet I don’t believe our government is entirely to blame for local policy that has them doing unconscionable things to desperate people. It’s simply a case that the Australian government can’t solve the problem on its own. If you go to the root cause and try to develop a solution for the global refugee crisis, we need to stop creating refugees. Trying to stop them moving around the world is like trying to stop Holland from sinking by putting your finger in a dyke. Talk about the ultimate Band-Aid. Nations need to come together and genuinely thrash out why so many people are displaced and fix what is causing the displacement. As an example, if we could find a way to make Syria a happy and safe place to live, most Syrians would go home.
Observation 3 – Commerce hates Politics
National Politics is under enormous pressure to pay for services. Given the amount of government debt all over the world, these are services most governments can’t afford. Commerce has created people with high expectations and as national voters these expectations are passed on to governments. While governments deal with constituents who expect more, in today’s global economy Commerce does everything within its power not to pay tax. Imagine if a brilliant mind (not mine) could design a fair and equitable global tax system. A tax system that still encourages great returns for effort and risk. A system that allows the opportunity to work for personal wealth. A system however, that captures and shares taxes according to the world’s greatest needs and problems. I suspect Commerce would lobby every person it could to stop such a system ever coming into existence.
Observation 4 – In a Global Economy Commerce becomes a Terminal Disease
Without checks and balances Commerce becomes a terminal disease. We’ve identified that Politics is not global. Not all Commerce is global either. However, there are enough large and clever Organisations who are. These Organisations will continue to grow mostly unchecked while national Politics tries to deal with their legacy in local markets. Commerce will always look after their customers provided they’re making good operating profits. However in today’s global economy they have no obligation to look after any human being beyond that. Some Commerce will argue that they enact great corporate social responsibility, but I say nonsense. When some leaders of Commerce have more money than some national economies, where is the social responsibility in that? The planet we live on is a limited resource and right now Commerce is the kid with his or her hand in the cookie jar. There is no parent to say stop or you’re going to spoil your dinner. In this scenario, mankind doesn’t really want to face what the spoiled dinner will look like.
My views are a little tongue in cheek. I run my own business and work hard to make a good living for myself and my employees. So I’m well and truly in the game but I am open to better ways. People are disenfranchised with Politics all over the world but Politics in its current structure can’t save the world. Countries can’t fix their own problems, because their problems are no longer their own. No one country can fix the problems of the world either. It is going to take big picture thinking and open minds if we are going to change the current landscape. The test case for me so far has been the world’s efforts to come together for climate change. It’s not a beacon of hope. If we are going to come together to really root out the cause of all the world’s problems, if we want to tackle them with the same conviction as a global business would; that is, scouring the world for more profits. Then we need a political regime that able to scour the world putting in place checks and balances to keep global Commerce under appropriate controls. We are a long way from a solution but for the sake of future generations we need to find one and we need to find it quickly!