TO LEAD OR NOT TO LEAD

As a rookie worker in the Child Welfare Department I met a thirteen year old who once had her eyes set on becoming a doctor. She was a good student at school. Her parents too had big dreams for their only child. When I met the family the teen ager was pregnant by a boy from her school. Hopes in two middle class families - parents from both sides had middle class jobs -became shattered and two young lives got derailed from their dreams. Like the life of an individual the life of a nation also does not go as planned. It too becomes derailed. Failure of its citizens brings unsavory results.

Currently, the United States is going through such an experience. Last November, a lot of people hoped that by betting on Donald Trump they would get rid of many things they did not like. It was called "draining the swamp". Over and over during the campaign they heard that no Muslim would be allowed to enter the country; they are radical Islamists. They heard that illegal immigrants as rapists and criminals were coming from Mexico; In order to stop their coming they will build a wall -solid and strong that covers the entire expanse. None of the above seems likely to happen. As of now the Congress does not see the need for a wall and the Courts don't see any reason to ban Muslims. Elimination of the Affordable Care Act collapsed on its own weight. It was mean, heartless and good for nobody. Six precious months have gone by.

Had a series of failures of this magnitude had happened to a company, its chief executive would have been fired. However, the United States being a democracy, firing an elected president may be in the best interest of the nation but it is easier said than done. A whole lot of legal and political considerations have to weigh in.

So far, the presidency of Donald Trump has promised a lot to its supporters. It would like Americans to believe that its policies and actions have brought "millions of new jobs." It offers Fox Con opening a new factory in Wisconsin as an example. However, thirteen thousand jobs created in ten years is not going to solve the entire unemployment problem. But it is a step in the right direction. Recently, an Indian carmaker Mahindra and Mahindra announced plans to open a factory in the US, employing 7500 people. There are others. But their plans were in the pipeline long before Trump occupied the White House. Availability of materials, work force and market entice companies to open new shops. Tax breaks become the icing on the cake.

To be honest, the administration can offer or facilitate a generous tax break to a company. But it has little control over the other factors necessary. Political uncertainty is also a recipe for economic disaster. And the Trump administration has created many. By trying to effect various bans and by being thwarted by Courts repeatedly the administration has helped deepen a sense of uncertainty. Then there is the investigation of Trump's collusion with Russia. The words like "impeachment" and "pardon" flow quite freely from talking heads of the media.

Compared with the rest of the world the American economy is strong. Yet, to keep it that way the public needs some direction from the people running the government. Unfortunately, in the last six months the needle has not moved.

Needless to say many around the world engaged in different disciplines depend on the leadership of the United States. Trump's withdrawal from this position of leadership strains our bonding with many other countries. The vacuum has to be filled by someone - say China or Russia. In order to remain relevant, the US must remain visible, given the size of its economy and technological prowess. The administration's position puts the country many years behind. Being "transactional" serves one well in real estate deals. But for positioning a country to lead the world, besides foresight and strength one needs remaining engaged.


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