US gov­ern­ment its own worst en­emy

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - World -

A NEW anal­y­sis by the Har­vard Busi­ness School out­lines why U.S. vot­ers are so frustrated with their po­lit­i­cal lead­ers — there is a lack of gen­uine com­pe­ti­tion be­tween Repub­li­cans and Democrats to de­liver ac­tual re­sults on ma­jor poli­cies such as ed­u­ca­tion, health care, taxes and in­fra­struc­ture.

The two ma­jor U.S. po­lit­i­cal par­ties have dis­torted the rules of elec­tions and the leg­isla­tive process to avoid com­pet­ing di­rectly with each other, ac­cord­ing to the anal­y­sis re­leased Wed­nes­day.

This has cre­ated a po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship that in­creas­ingly em­pha­sizes dif­fer­ences rather than com­mon goals, while fo­cus­ing more on the in­ter­ests of donors, special in­ter­ests and pri­mary vot­ers than the coun­try as a whole. If the com­pe­ti­tion was healthy be­tween the par­ties, the anal­y­sis said, po­lit­i­cal lead­ers and pol­i­cy­mak­ers would be com­pet­ing to de­liver bet­ter out­comes for vot­ers and also be held ac­count­able for any re­sults.

“The po­lit­i­cal sys­tem is now Amer­ica’s most fun­da­men­tal weak­ness and it used to be one of our great­est strengths,” said Michael Porter, a Har­vard pro­fes­sor and econ­o­mist who co-au­thored the anal­y­sis. “The sys­tem is de­signed not to col­lab­o­rate, not to find com­mon ground.”

The find­ings build on pre­vi­ous sur­veys and re­ports by Har­vard Busi­ness School on de­clin­ing U.S. com­pet­i­tive­ness com­pared to much of the world. The po­lit­i­cal sys­tem, in­fra­struc­ture, taxes, health care and ed­u­ca­tion were each iden­ti­fied as weak­nesses for the U.S. econ­omy that are wors­en­ing.

Aca­demic re­search has shown that the broader U.S. econ­omy is be­com­ing less com­pet­i­tive, with prof­itable com­pa­nies be­com­ing less likely to make new in­vest­ments and a de­cline in the rate of en­trepreneurs form­ing new com­pa­nies. But the Har­vard anal­y­sis sug­gests that gov­ern­ment dys­func­tion helps to ex­plain why many Amer­i­cans and busi­ness lead­ers feel that the United States is slip­ping.

Mul­ti­ple sur­veys show a level of voter dis­sat­is­fac­tion with the sta­tus quo. Congress holds an ap­proval rat­ing of just 16 per­cent, ac­cord­ing to sur­vey data re­leased Wed­nes­day by the Gallup Or­ga­ni­za­tion. The House and Se­nate re­ceived equally abysmal rat­ings from Repub­li­cans, Democrats and un­af­fil­i­ated vot­ers. Sev­eral sur­veys show that the ma­jor­ity of Amer­i­cans dis­ap­prove of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

Some vot­ers in 2016 elected Trump on the hopes that he would break the dom­i­nant grip of both po­lit­i­cal par­ties. But af­ter a se­ries of bold prom­ises, his ad­min­is­tra­tion has strug­gled to move any ma­jor bills through Congress that would mean­ing­fully help the busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment in the long-term. Both Porter and his co-au­thor Kather­ine Gehl, the for­mer head of Gehl Foods and a po­lit­i­cal ac­tivist, said that Trump’s elec­tion did lit­tle to cre­ate a health­ier com­pe­ti­tion among po­lit­i­cal lead­ers.

The anal­y­sis in­cludes rec­om­men­da­tions to change the elec­tion process so that states have a sin­gle pri­mary bal­lot and al­low the top four vote-get­ters to then par­tic­i­pate in the gen­eral elec­tion, as well as re­dis­trict­ing to pre­vent can­di­dates from ger­ry­man­der­ing, rewrit­ing cam­paign fi­nance rules and start­ing a com­mis­sion to de­velop new rules for leg­is­la­tures. – AP

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