US Leadership — Four Key Areas

US Leadership – Four Key Areas

A recent interview on NBC’s Today show with Jamie Dimon was impressive. Mr. Dimon is recovering from emergency heart surgery in early March of this year. He is the CEO of JP Morgan Chase banking system, and certainly has the background in financial leadership.

Jamie Dimon CEO JP Morgan Chase

Dimon stated there are four basic key areas for the next President and his administration to deal with. These are as follows:

1. Immigration Reform.

It goes without saying that President Trump’s policy of drastically restricting immigration from certain countries, and building a multi-billion dollar wall to keep out people from Central and South America are historically drastic and draconian measures. The influx of desperate people escaping economic hardship and violence in the Americas is a horrible reality, and it strains the US promise of safety and a better life. Over the years, this country has dealt with “immigration overflow” at times, but it was easier when the newcomers came by boat from overseas. The land bridges from the south make it more difficult to control the matter, and most people understand that uncontrolled immigration is unsustainable as a policy, especially in times of social turmoil and economic recession. Yet the stark and ugly reality of a wall to keep people out reminds the world of a policy failure (attempts to deal with the causes of their flight) as well as a brutal and coarse way to isolate this land from the rest of the world. Couple that with withdrawal from numerous international treaties and the World Health Organization in the midst of the worst pandemic in a century and it is clear that the present American administration is isolationist and nationalist in policy.

In addition, much more effective means of controlling immigration by using high-tech sensing towers backed up by mobile teams of border control officers is both more cost effective and does not send the signal that we are the modern equivalent of the horrible Berlin Wall in reverse. The policy is terrible and the optics are even worse. Coupling that with the fact that we have 700,000 DACA residents who were brought here as small children, have known no other country, and are people who for the most part now are educated and contributing members of American society, an overall immigration policy is needed desperately: one effective, humane, and cost-effective.

2. Infrastructure Upgrade

One would think this would be a slam dunk on both sides of the aisle. For some reason, it is not able to get done. The bridges, dams, urban mass transport, highways, Internet upgrade and reach into rural areas, and other arteries and connectors of modernity are lacking badly in many parts of the US. If there were a need for Federal tax money to help the people, as well as increase economic growth, this is a blinking green light. Virtually 100% of the materials will be sourced from US manufacturers and the construction done by US workers. How can adding miles of “The Wall” in an obsolete, divisive, ugly, hateful, and ineffective way take priority over these?

3. Education

In the same spirit as Infrastructure, it seems that education is the one of the most fundamental elements of any government responsibility. The range is wide and important: elementary and middle school, high school, public colleges, junior highs, trade schools … the list goes on. Other than providing security against threats from enemies in the sense of military foes, this is one of the most important responsibilities of any government. Nothing can be more important than for people to have knowledge to advance themselves and make informed decisions.

4. Healthcare

In 2018, according to current data

91.5% of the US population had health insurance, with 8.5% without any form at any time – 27.5 million people. Of those with coverage, roughly two-thirds had private health coverage (55% from employers) and one-third had public (usually Medicare) coverage.

Those without any form of medical insurance often do without health treatment. They deal with it on their own -- often the root causes of their diseases and injuries become worse -- or go to a local hospital ER where they are required to be treated by law. This leads to the cost of emergency care being added to the insurance of everyone.

Dimon did not list large policy issues such as National Deficits, Climate Change, the Environment, Major Security Pacts (NATO, etc) and others as his top concerns. There are plenty to go around. I have a growing concern about fundamental cultural rifts that seem underway: angry and armed segments of the country who show up in public appearing no different than those guerrilla bands we used to see in third world countries. We certainly need a President who can unite us. That is becoming harder and harder to do. Conciliation, not division and separation, is the keyword for me along with focus on a list of bipartisan needs, and there seem to be many of these.

A recent book review in the Wall Street Journal compared the US to the "bewildering jumble of lands, each with its own Constitution and accustomed liberties" that made up the Habsburg Empire. The reviewer ends with this statement: "It's not hard to see the current parallels. Like the Habsburg Empire, the United States relies on a creed to unite otherwise disparate peoples." Another statement in this review stands out to me, and I paraphrase ... those factions in American politics who trumpet the grievances of various identity  groups without offering an underlying vision of unity push a state toward tribalism from which there may be no easy return.

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Enjoy life; it's the only one we will get.

J.K. (Jim) George


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7 Responses

  1. Jamie Dimon has an interesting past. If memory serves me, his tenure at JPMorgan Chase is checkered by a history of derivative trading that resulted in enormous losses and acceptance of TARP funding when his bank didn't need it. That being said, he is a brilliant guy. Why is it that people like Jamie Dimon never go to jail?
  2. Another fool who thinks we humans can control climate change. Another Liberal who thinks he can control the sun and the worlds oceans. Our oceans supply the world with most of our oxygen. Our CO2 in the atmosphere has seen almost no change since WW 2. He may know how to manipulate stocks, bonds and money, but he should stay in the areas he does understand.
  3. JK James George
  4. JK James George
    From Anon-2: Thanks Jim! I so appreciate your point about needing a leader who facilitates unity without mass mindedness as we address these important issues.
  5. JK James George
    From Anon-3: Jim, In keeping with the Democratic Party, you and Jamie left out a problem on our national scene that’s huge: the violence and deaths in the cities that have been dominated by Democratic politicians for years. What’s your proposed solution???
  6. JK James George
    From Anon-4: Jim--- since I cannot keep up with my own little life much less try to do a series of blogs, I’m dumbstruck by the breadth and uniformly solid information you manage to curate and produce. Thank you for that. No 2-pager this time- but on the topic of Mr Dimon: I can provide a piece of advice to those who pay some attention to Mr. Dimon and his messages. Never, no never, agree to speak to an audience immediately after Mr. Dimon has addressed the group. Particularly if your topic is dry, technical, and relates to “what happens when it goes wrong.” A few years ago, I was in that position –with a not very nice but very technical topic, speaking to an audience in NYC. Mr. Dimon was up immediately before me: he was chatty, relaxed, authoritative, funny, relevant, broad-ranging, upbeat (it was during the last existential economic problems—sometime in 2009 or 200) , etc. I was lucky to get some applause at end of my talk, but I think it came from the guy on the far end of the 9th row who was applauding to get me off the podium. I still crib one of Mr. Dimon’s lines from that (and probably many other) event(s): “I hear and read that there is much concern about where this is leading—will we ever get out of this? [remember this was 2009-10]. People, I say, of course we will. This is America. “ (following that was the list of 10 things on which hope for recovery should be based) I have to believe that his answer to the question is still accurate, ten/eleven years on, in a new set of existential problems.
  7. JK James George
    From Anon-5: I am more concerned about the approaching election. The stats I just read about the number of votes in the recent primary that are rejected is awful. I am really worried that Trump will call the election a fraud and force a movement to keep him in power. That is so scary. Sounds like a dictator from the past. Note bene: Is he trying to lose the election by cutting the payroll tax and messing with funding for medicare and social security? How can he legally do these things bypassing Congress?

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