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How Do YOU Measure Success "" and how does Washington Measure It?

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Message Bill Burkett
Every Monday morning we awake to a new world.  Most people get dressed, hurry the kids to school, drive to work and try to rearrange their minds from normalcy to face another hectic week of getting things done at the office, the factory, or on the farm.

With each project, there is a measurement of success.  Usually this measure is based upon profit, consumption, return on investment, customer satisfaction or simply time.

Usually, it’s really about the old adage of doing things better, cheaper and faster, isn’t it?

This New Year’s Day, we begin another year within the old calendar and to some of us, the future begins to look shorter than the path behind us.  Once again, we sit and make resolutions; give it some thought and again place priorities on our lives, what they mean, where we are going and what’s important to us.

And once again, we are in the midst of a great political debate, which often seems much ado about nothing.

I’m not rare when I observe that each cycle it seems that the politicians and parties seem to get sleazier, more slick, arrogant, aloof, and unwilling to listen.  Oh, and they talk a lot, but their radar is never on, they can’t hear a damned thing when the voters or average American try to make a point about what’s important to them and their neighborhood.  The response is the same from Guiliani, Hillary, Huckleberry or Obama.  I sense that John Edwards hears, yet may have already formed most of his opinion, but his 'hearing' often takes on the tone of only confirming what he already believes.  Joe Biden listens intently and hears, but seems as frustrated as all of us that he hasn’t been able nor can do much about it.

This brings this old consultant’s mind back to measuring success.

Measuring success is the bottom line in determining the value or progress of any organization, and yes, I’d give the President AND the Congress an F-grade if it were possible.

We started a War in Afghanistan, how many years ago?  How is it going, when will it end, what will it cost us in blood, treasure and integrity?

We invaded a sovereign nation for seven different reasons.  The reasons were only shared with the public as the last one failed to yield any result or demonstrate any validity.  On the subject of Weapons of Mass Destruction, for example, as one popular comedian states it, “We’ve never even found a (G.D.) firecracker!”

In 2001, we had a complete and whole Constitution including a justice system that protected the small guy and guaranteed his personal freedoms and rights under that Constitution. In 2001, we had a strong dollar that was the basis of trade throughout the World, and just seven years after the development of the Euro, it and every other currency in the World are preferred to the dollar.

In 2001, there was no way that someone would be arrested, detained and not allowed to see an attorney or know why they were charged and by whom.  Now we wait for months and years, if the Justice Department wants to hold someone as long as it is blessed by a court that meets in secrecy and without peers or superiors to determine WHETHER one will be charged or just rot away in captivity – totally lost in anonymity.

Just seven years ago there was no way anyone would have thought it possible that the United States of America would establish – openly, I might add – a concentration camp for prisoners on foreign soil, a camp in which water boarding – not a sport – and other forms of torture were debated only after an assembly line of such occurrences was created and committed for years.

Yes, at first there was timid denial, until the crafty old truth somehow revealed that not only Gonzo, but many more higher-ups were directly implicated.

Just seven years ago we were not only paying our nation’s bills, but paying down the debt. We were rebuilding America one brick at a time, through small business start-ups, not corporate takeovers.  Middle America felt it possible to dream again after two decades of debt and high interest caused by government deficits.

Today, in contrast, we face stacked deficits that have increased the national debt by $7 trillion dollars – an amount that it would take a person making the minimum wage 14 years to pay their per capita share even if they didn’t have to pay taxes, rent or eat.

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