Saturday, November 27, 2010

Shortsighted followers generate shortsighted leader

Some recent news says that Obama's support rate has fallen to 50% or so and it seems the main reason is that he has not really fixed any problem of the U.S. in the last two years.

I haven't studied much economics at school, but common sense tells me that problems at the scale the financial disaster in 2008 take many years to fix. Despite this, many people expect to see results of his policies in a mere of two years.

If you are Obama, how will you feel and act? You will probably feel bad about the support rate, and, unless you are really unselfish, you will begin to adopt policies that will have immediate, observable "good" results in the next two years, although they may not be beneficial (or even disastrous) to the country in the long term. Otherwise, it is quite likely that you will not be elected as the President in the next term.

Similarly, in the finance industry, when investors want to see growth every quarter, the CEO and the board will feel the pressure and focus on generating more short-term revenue in the price of other difficult to measure but important things (such as employee morale).

I always have reservation about democracy and wonder what the contexts should be for it to be appropriately applied. Some people say that you have to do a job yourself first before hiring someone to do it. To my mind, even if you haven't done the job, you should have quite some knowledge about it to outsource. How many people have good knowledge about what it takes to be a good President? I don't, and I am not sure how many do.

One big problem about regular citizen making comments on the President is that they are not thinking like a President. In other words, they are not assessing the benefit of a policy to the country as a whole but to themselves only. The responsibility of a President is to allocate resources to deliver the greatest good for the greatest number of people and this process will inevitably leave some behind, and, those who are left behind usually generate the loudest voices.

Democracy works only if followers can make informed decisions and fair judgment on the leader. Shortsighted followers encourage a shortsighted leader to lead them. Even if the leader is not one in the beginning, s/he will have to adapt and be one to survive. This is sad.