Meetings! I just love meetings … no, I don’t. I hate meetings. But perhaps that’s just because I’m no good at running them.
According to an MSNBC article today, Bush met with the leaders of 20 countries Saturday night. To quote the article:
“After the almost 40-minute meeting and his six-minute statement, the president left the White House for a nearly two-hour mountain bike ride in the nearby Virginia woods.”
Jeez. I really wish I had his meeting facilitation abilities. At a meeting with 20 world leaders, all of whom are undoubtedly known for their keen wit, brevity, and ability to grasp huge honkin’ financial issues in seconds, it would still take me 10 minutes to do introductions. After all, I like to spend about 30 seconds having each person state their name, the country they lead, and their form of government (“Parliamentary,” “Representative Democracy,” “Puppet Dictatorship,” etc.)
That would leave only 30 minutes for the meeting itself, clearly not enough time to lay out the mess, explain the economic issues and how policy can resolve them, etc. Whatever his other problems, it seems Bush is able to resolve a 20-country, unprecedented global financial meltdown in 40 minutes, just by talking for six minutes… astounding! Perhaps it’s the two-hour bike rides? They send enough oxygen to his head that he can think super-clearly.
This is what passes for world leadership.
We have the most advanced technology in history and the ability to feed every man, woman, and child on the face of the planet. Yet we’re still plagued by poverty, famine, gross wealth inequality, and violence. Our human abilities simply aren’t up to coping with issues of this magnitude. We’ve created systems so complex that even the major player (e.g. Paulson) can’t understand them. And our leaders? They’re as clueless as the rest of us, it seems.
So this whole meeting brings up only one major question: Where can I get a job that lets me take two-hour bike rides while the country—ostensibly my responsibility—melts down around me?
My biggest concern about Bush in 2000 was that every company he’s ever run, he’s run into the ground. That concerns me. Past behavior is, alas, the best predictor of future behavior.
“Shrub,” by Molly Ivins, recounted the messes prior to his being elected. At the time, I imagined he and his policies wouldn’t be the best for the country, but I honestly didn’t believe they could screw up an entire country.
And to be fair, he and his policies only exacerbated structural problems that had been in the works for years. Heck, Clinton’s the one who lowered Fannie Mae mortgage standards allowing the subprime mortgages to start to take hold. And the financially illiterate actually took out the mortgages. And the further financially illiterate (the financial and banking sector, as it turns out) bought the repackaged mortgages.
But at the end of the day, it’s the leader who needs to be seeing farthest. As is common knowledge by now, they didn’t bother to read the report entitled ‘Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States.’ And even though such minor folks like Warren Buffett have been warning about derivatives for years, their market ideology got well in the way of noticing that the numbers didn’t add up.
There’s not much I can do about it from where I sit. Except vote.