I’m no political commentator but, re-reading Henry Mintzberg’s (@) book Managers Not MBAs, I chanced across the following passage. I think it casts light on possible context for both last week’s US Presidential Election and the earlier Brexit result in the UK. What’s especially telling is that he’s quoting data from the late 1990s, in a book published in 2004.
‘The facts…tell a different story [relating to the facility of the notion of a rising tide benefitting all on the back of increased shareholder value]. In 1989, the United States had 66 billionaires and 31.5 million people living below the official poverty line. A decade later, the number of billionaires had increased to 268, while the number of people below the poverty line increased to 34.5 million… In 1996, 26 per cent of all workers were in jobs paying poverty-level wages, a larger proportion than in the past…’
Notwithstanding the various aspects of racism, xenophobia and other unacceptable positions, comments and behaviour demonstrated on both sides of the Atlantic, what seems clear to me is that the political class indeed has become disconnected from those it purportedly represents.
My answer to a question from my late-teenage son, who simply asked “why, and how?”, seemed straightforward: citizens (I think, certainly speaking for myself) seek job security, good healthcare, opportunities for themselves and their families, and safety, with adequate infrastructure to deliver all of this. It’s my belief that most individuals are prepared to pay for these services through fair taxes. I suspect they are less-interested in political dogma or global systems, either capitalist or socialist, per se. Easy to say, difficult to deliver, even more so when preoccupied with aligning with others and to systems always underpinned by vested interests. That is, though, the point and purpose of elected officials.
And they’ve just been reminded.
(See Managers Not MBAs – A hard look as the soft practice of managing and management development, by Henry Mintzberg, Berrett-Koehler, 2004.)