The significant problems we face today cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them. (Albert Einstein)
The headline of David Farenhold’s article (Washington Post, 12/16/2014) read:
NASA built a $349 million tower — for a program scrubbed years earlier: What happens to a big bureaucracy after its sense of mission starts to fade?
When I read this article I thought to myself, “What ever happened to the Grace Commission Report on government waste?” If you are not familiar with the Grace report, it was commissioned by President Ronald Regan in 1982, and presented to congress in 1984.
The report claimed that if its recommendations were followed, $424 billion could be saved in three years, rising to $1.9 trillion per year by the year 2000. It estimated that the national debt, without these reforms, would rise to $13 trillion by the year 2000, while with the reforms they projected it would rise to only $2.5 trillion. Congress ignored the commission’s report. The debt reached $5.8 trillion in the year 2000. The national debt reached 13 trillion after the subprime mortgage-collateralized debt obligation crisis in 2008.”
The report said that one-third of all income taxes are consumed by waste and inefficiency in the federal government, and another one-third escapes collection owing to the underground economy. “With two thirds of everyone’s personal income taxes wasted or not collected, 100 percent of what is collected is absorbed solely by interest on the federal debt and by federal government contributions to transfer payments. In other words, all individual income tax revenues are gone before one nickel is spent on the services that taxpayers expect from their government.” (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Grace_Commission)
Has anything changed in the way our government does business since the Grace Report was released 34 years ago? The answer is, “No.” (Since 1980 we have had 20 years of Republican leadership in the White House, and – by the end of President Obama’s second term – 16 years of Democratic leadership) Therefore, the question is, “Why hasn’t anything changed?” Let me suggest that things have not changed because we have not changed. To paraphrase Pogo, the problems that we face are not the Republicans or the Democrats, it is us; “We’ve met the enemy, and the enemy is us.” Looking into the mirror and noting that the “enemy is us” is the first step to freedom.
I love the scene from Remember the Titans, where coach Boone tells his players,
Everything we gonna do is changing. We are change. We’re gonna change the way we run. We’re gonna change the way we eat. We’re gonna change the way we block. We’re gonna change the way we tackle. We’re gonna change the way we win.
Winning (freedom), according to coach Boone’s philosophy, does not start with analyzing the other team’s strengths and weaknesses, by adding new players to a broken team, or by taking note of the inadequacies of the playing field, and then protesting that the game is slanted against you. According to coach Boone, winning (i.e., freedom) starts within. Winning starts with changing the way we think. Winning starts with thinking outside of the box
The question is: What is at stake if we don’t change our thinking? Answer: We will continue to be stuck in the loop that Einstein warned us about; we will continue to try solving our problems with the same level of thinking that created the problem in the first place. G. Carter Woodson put it this way:
“History shows that it does not matter who is in power or what revolutionary forces take over the government, those who have not learned to do for themselves and have to depend solely on others never obtain any more rights or privileges in the end than they had in the beginning.” ― Carter G. Woodson, The Mis-Education of the Negro
The road to freedom always begins within, and traversing freedom’s road is the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness. The journey begins with thinking outside of the box.