“Am I the only guy in this country who’s fed up with what’s happening? Where the hell is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder. We’ve got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we’ve got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can’t even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car. But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, “Stay the course.” Stay the course? You’ve got to be kidding. This is America, not the damned Titanic. I’ll give you a sound bite: Throw the bums out!” … Lee Iacocca
Marcus Can’t Put Down Iacocca’s “Where Have All The Leaders Gone?”
Robert came back from his last trip to the USA and tossed a book onto the table – Iacocca’s “Where Have All The Leaders Gone?
He said “Read it, substitute the word ‘Barbados’ for USA and tell me what you think.”
That was two days ago and I’m now at page 111, almost half way through the book. I can’t put it down.
Lee Iacocca is widely known as the creator of the Ford Mustang, and later the mini-van concept when he was running Chrysler. I had pictured him as some sort of right-wing-Republican-til-death – an industrialist who believes himself privileged because he worked hard but lucked out.
I have to admit that I was wrong in my preconceptions.
Seeing as how I haven’t read the entire work, I can’t really give a credible book report, but I’ll leave you with a few quotes…
People, look around. This country has some serious issues. Security. The economy. Global warming. Healthcare. Energy. Iraq. In most of these cases, the so-called leaders charged with confronting these problems are only compounding them with their lack of accountability and often questionable motives. Instead of looking for real solutions, they seem to be looking out for number one.
It’s not just elected leaders like George W. Bush and Dick Cheney either. It’s many of the executives who occupy the top rungs of this country’s corporate ladder. Your Kenneth Lays and Jeffrey Skillings and Dennis Kozlowskis – a few guys who took Michael Douglas’ line in the movie Wall Street a little too seriously. “Greed is good,” he said. These days, it seems more of our leaders believe that than ever before.”
“I hardly recognize this country anymore. The President of the United States is given a free pass to ignore the Constitution, tap our phones, and lead us to war on a pack of lies. Congress responds to record deficits by passing a huge tax cut for the walthy (thanks, but I don’t need it). The most famous business leaders are not the innovators but the guys in handcuffs. While we’re fiddling in Iraq, the Middle East is burning and nobody seems to know what to do.”
“And the press is waving pom-poms instead of asking hard questions.”
“We voted for them – or at least some of us did. But I’ll tel you what we didn’t do. We didn’t agree to suspend the Constitution. We didn’t agree to stop asking questions or demanding answers. Some of us are sick and tired of people who call free speech treason. Where I come from that’s a dictatorship, not a democracy.
Where are the voices of leaders who can inspire us to action and make us stand taller? What happened to the strong and resolute party of Lincoln? What happened to the courageous, populist party of FDR and Truman? There was a time in this country when the voices of great leaders lifted us up and made us want to do better. Where have all the leaders gone?”
“A Hell of a Mess
So here’s where we stand. We’re immersed in a bloody war with no plan for winning and no plan for leaving. We’re running the biggest deficit in the history of the country. We’re losing the manufacturing edge to Asia, while our once-great companies are getting slaughtered by health care costs. Gas prices are skyrocketing, and nobody in power has a coherent energy policy. Our schools are in trouble. Our borders are like sieves. The middle class is being squeezed every which way. These are times that cry out for leadership.
But when you look around, you’ve got to ask: “Where have all the leaders gone?” Where are the curious, creative communicators? Where are the people of character, courage, conviction, competence, and common sense? I may be a sucker for alliteration, but I think you get the point.
Name me a leader who has a better idea for homeland security than making us take off our shoes in airports and throw away our shampoo? We’ve spent billions of dollars building a huge new bureaucracy, and all we know how to do is react to things that have already happened.
Name me one leader who emerged from the crisis of Hurricane Katrina. Congress has yet to spend a single day evaluating the response to the hurricane, or demanding accountability for the decisions that were made in the crucial hours after the storm. Everyone’s hunkering down, fingers crossed, hoping it doesn’t happen again. Now, that’s just crazy. Storms happen. Deal with it. Make a plan. Figure out what you’re going to do the next time.
Name me an industry leader who is thinking creatively about how we can restore our competitive edge in manufacturing. Who would have believed that there could ever be a time when “the Big Three” referred to Japanese car companies? How did this happen—and more important, what are we going to do about it?
Name me a government leader who can articulate a plan for paying down the debt, or solving the energy crisis, or managing the health care problem. The silence is deafening. But these are the crises that are eating away at our country and milking the middle class dry.
I have news for the gang in Congress. We didn’t elect you to sit on your asses and do nothing and remain silent while our democracy is being hijacked and our greatness is being replaced with mediocrity. What is everybody so afraid of? That some bobblehead on Fox News will call them a name? Give me a break. Why don’t you guys show some spine for a change?”
Lee Iacocca – Personal Website
Wikipedia – Lee Iacocca