Carly Fiorina and the Limits of Executive Ability

There has been much comment on Carly Fiorina’s tenure as CEO of Hewlett-Packard – some calling it a complete disaster, others calling it a success. For political purposes, what is most important to remember is that Fiorina was running neck and neck with Senator Barbara Boxer in 2010 until Boxer came out with an ad attacking Fiorina’s actions at Hewlett-Packard. To be sure, the Boxer ad was lurid but the bottom line is that it worked: there’s nothing a Democrat likes better than to run against the CEO of a large corporation. It just works perfectly: the former CEO is, of course, very rich and, also, probably made at least some decisions which can be second-guessed (or monstrously twisted) in hindsight. There really is no defense a GOPer can have in such a situation (Democrat CEO’s who run for office are not so handicapped – because the MSM simply won’t give the Evil CEO meme any play and, of course, the GOP is ill-positioned to attack CEO’s in the public mind).

There is an element, though, in Fiorina’s tenure which I think important for all of us to notice – from Bloomberg Politics:

Carly Fiorina said Sunday that neither she nor Hewlett-Packard should be faulted for the sales of millions of HP printers in Iran when such business was prohibited by U.S. law.

Appearing on Fox’s Fox News Sunday, Fiorina said that despite being the CEO of HP when the Iranian sales took place via a third party, she was unaware of them.

“First, HP, you need to remember, was larger than each of the 50 states,” Fiorina said. “It’s a larger budget than any one of our 50 states, and a global enterprise. And so it’s impossible to ensure that nothing wrong ever happens. The question is what do you do when you find out.”

“Are you saying you didn’t know about it?” host Chris Wallace asked.

“In fact, the SEC investigation proved that neither I nor anyone else in management knew about it…” she insisted…

There are two things which will make me doubt a statement:

1. The prior knowledge that the person is a habitual liar.

2. That the statement is just absurd from the get-go.

I have not seen any evidence that Ms. Fiorina is a habitual liar so I will not accuse her in this instance of being such. For the second part, it is not an absurd statement. Ms. Fiorina prefaces her answer by noting HP is larger than the 50 State governments. This is no exaggeration – HP has more than 300,000 employees and more than $110 billion in revenues. That revenue amount is about the same as the State of California; all other States go from “a lot less than HP” to “this would be HP’s chump change”. It should be noted that HP has a reputation for being one of the most honest companies out there – and for our Progressives, it is all squeaky clean on Progressive politics: even Greenpeace gives HP high marks. On the other hand, in 2014 HP had to fork over a $108 million fine because they were bribing officials in Russia, Poland and Mexico to secure contracts. To be sure, the bribe case was long after Fiorina left but I bring it up because it shows this point: it is highly unlikely that the CEO of HP has more than the haziest notion of what is going on, day by day, in HP operations.

The bottom line is that once an organization gets above a certain size, no one can really know what is going on. The boss only knows what his or her immediate subordinates choose to reveal. Of course, a diligent boss can harass the staff into providing more information, or taking more immediate action – but even then, only about things which occur to the boss. If the boss doesn’t take a mind to a particular issue and no one volunteers any information about it, it simply will not be known. The best executive in the world with the most noble motives simply will not be able to oversee the entirety of an organization once it is too large. And too large probably shows up above 10,000 people for most executives, and about 100,000 for the best. To put it in perspective – Douglas MacArthur had three armies under his command at the peak (6th, 8th and an Australian army); Dwight Eisenhower had 9 (1st, 3rd, 7th, 9th, 15th, a British, a Canadian, a French and an Airborne army). MacArthur nimbly moved his armies over thousands of square miles of ocean and land and no forces under his command ever lacked for any necessary item…Ike’s armies ran out of gas – as in gasoline – just when they could have finished the Germans off. MacArthur’s forces were small enough for him to keep control – Ike’s forces were so sprawling that no one was keeping tabs on making sure the supplies got there, regardless of any difficulties.

Human beings are not built for managing massive enterprises. We just can’t do it. We’re not smart enough or energetic enough. The fundamental problem with Big Government, Big Corporation or Big Anything is that no one can mind the store. No one can grasp the whole thing and make it go the desired course. You can by diligent efforts hammer it into getting a few desired things done, but you can’t watch and regulate the whole mass. If someone – or 10,000 someones – are goofing off out of 200,000 people, how can the boss possibly know? Only if something really bad happens. And the bad things will happen because people are people – in any aggregate of humanity there will be a subset which is stupid and/or corrupt.

With a private corporation it isn’t to terribly bad because the bad shows up faster and demands action sooner – or even the big bosses will be out of a job. With government, it is just terrible. You see, a bureaucrat at the VA gets paid the same whether he processes one claim or twenty claims in a day. There is no incentive – other than personal honor – for him to work diligently to process the twenty. And, so, very often only one gets done – and to make it even more hideous, that bureaucrat processing one a day, if he gets caught, is protected by civil service laws and contracts from being fired. This actually works out as an incentive to goof off.

Any candidate saying they are going to make government work is kidding us – and themselves – unless the primary action of reform is to make government smaller. At least in the sense of breaking it up into smaller entities which are easily accountable to the people’s elected representatives for performance. But best in the sense of just having a lot fewer bureaucrats. More of them merely means more of them to make mistakes – and less chance that anyone will catch the mistakes.

We laugh when we hear Obama’s claims of “I read it in the papers” when yet another disaster besets his Administration. And, true enough, some of Obama’s claims are laughable – but not all of them. For the simple reason that he probably really didn’t know until the story broke. Until the disaster happened, that is. But we don’t elect Presidents to not know what is happening – but we can only have a President in the know if the organization is small enough for him to keep an eye on. We’ll never have effective government until it is smaller – no matter who we place in the White House.

Government: Just a Word for Lines We Stand In Together

Yep, the bigger we make government and the more power we give it, the better – via Hot Air:

The number of veterans seeking health care but ending up on waiting lists of one month or more is 50 percent higher now than it was a year ago when a scandal over false records and long wait times wracked the Department of Veterans Affairs, The New York Times reported. The VA also faces a budget shortfall of nearly $3 billion, the Times reported in a story posted online ahead of its Sunday editions. The agency is considering furloughs, hiring freezes and other significant moves to reduce the gap, the newspaper reported. In the last year, the VA has increased capacity by more than 7 million patient visits per year, double what officials originally thought they needed to fix shortcomings, the Times reported. However, the newspaper added, department officials did not anticipate just how much physician workloads and demand from veterans would continue to soar. At some major veterans hospitals, demand was up by one-fifth, the paper reported.

Our Big Government liberals will naturally call for more money and more bureaucrats. They will never understand that the primary purpose of government, as conducted by its officials, is to increase the power and wealth of government. Even when we restrict government to its most narrow, constitutionally-mandated powers, those in it will still be seeking after themselves, first – and the people, at best, a distant second in their concerns. It is just the way things are. People are like that. A bureaucrat has a choice in how to spend his day: vigorously working for the people (for which he will get no additional pay or benefits), or vigorously working the system to benefit himself. Guess which way things go? And this is true even if a majority of the bureaucrats are selfless – it only takes a few in the mix who are self-serving to ensure the whole system is screwed up.

The bigger the government gets the less capable it will be in doing what we want it to do. You see it, yourself, every day – schools that don’t teach; roads that are in disrepair, etc. We’re spending vastly more – in real dollars and per capita – on all things government than we ever were and things just keep getting worse. More run down, more difficult to accomplish, more lengthy in process, more expensive in the end. We need to spend a decade repealing laws and cutting down the size of government just to get to a point where the human mind can start to comprehend the scope of it and decide what to do.

The Democrats’ Hot, New Plan: More Social Security


Social Security has a long-term funding gap that just keeps growing. Neither political party has a plan to pay for the promises we’ve already made to people contributing to the system. But Democrats are bringing a new idea to the table: make even more promises.

Almost all Senate Democrats have lined up behind a proposal by Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Joe Manchin of West Virginia to expand benefits for current retirees. Liberals are exulting that Warren has shifted the politics of Social Security to the left: Where once we were debating cutbacks to the program, now we’re debating benefit increases. Too bad that also means the debate is shifting further away from fiscal reality.

Social Security is becoming a worse deal for each generation. Those now joining the workforce are expected to pay more into the system than they get out of it. Warren’s plan is to shower more money on the current generation of retirees, but without increasing the deficit over the next 10 years. That means, in all likelihood, raising taxes on current workers while also increasing the program’s long-run fiscal deficit…

Now, in raw politics, this is a good idea – you see, elder voters are increasingly trending GOP and they tend to vote very consistently…thus playing a huge role in the anti-Democrat blow-outs of 2010 and 2014. In 2016, which is expected to be a close-run race, getting a few more elderly voters to pull the lever for the Democrats might make the difference between President Hillary and President Walker. So, off we go: raise social security benefits for current retirees and hope that out of gratitude they vote for you.

Of course, as noted in the quote, this can only be done by increasing taxes on current workers and it would also, naturally, put a heavier strain on social security in later years. The bottom line is that social security just doesn’t work – it is predicated upon a very large number of working people supporting a relatively small number of retired people. Trouble is, the work force keeps getting smaller and the miracles of modern science are keeping us alive ever longer. My father retired in 1992 at the age of 65 and died in 2009 at the age of 82 – seventeen years of picking up the SS check. Suppose I live 10 years longer than my dad did…even if I retire at 67, that will still work out to 25 years of SS payments for me. And a kid of 25 today might easily live until his late 90’s, or even longer. Meanwhile, we’re not having all that many kids. The program eventually goes belly up. But what is that to Democrats? What they need is a way to buy votes now – what will happen later is irrelevant; whatever happens, their program to deal with it will be to promise more free stuff.

Ok, so how do we fight against this? Can’t just say, “screw the old folks”. That would just play into Democrat hands. We have to come up with some sort of program which both benefits the oldsters while also helping out the younger folks who are paying for the goodies. My preferred option is to start implementing a privatization of social security without being too explicit that full privatization is the ultimate goal (politics is the art of the possible, folks). Something along the line of “10% of the money you pay into ss, today, will go into a private account owned by you and your heirs”. Whatever we do, we have to do it well – because this will be a potent weapon for the Democrats in 2016.

Social Security Hitting Kids for Parents’ Debts

This is just hideous:

A few weeks ago, with no notice, the U.S. government intercepted Mary Grice’s tax refunds from both the IRS and the state of Maryland. Grice had no idea that Uncle Sam had seized her money until some days later, when she got a letter saying that her refund had gone to satisfy an old debt to the government — a very old debt.

When Grice was 4, back in 1960, her father died, leaving her mother with five children to raise. Until the kids turned 18, Sadie Grice got survivor benefits from Social Security to help feed and clothe them.

Now, Social Security claims it overpaid someone in the Grice family — it’s not sure who — in 1977. After 37 years of silence, four years after Sadie Grice died, the government is coming after her daughter. Why the feds chose to take Mary’s money, rather than her surviving siblings’, is a mystery.

Across the nation, hundreds of thousands of taxpayers who are expecting refunds this month are instead getting letters like the one Grice got, informing them that because of a debt they never knew about — often a debt incurred by their parents — the government has confiscated their check.

The Treasury Department has intercepted $1.9 billion in tax refunds already this year — $75 million of that on debts delinquent for more than 10 years, said Jeffrey Schramek, assistant commissioner of the department’s debt management service. The aggressive effort to collect old debts started three years ago — the result of a single sentence tucked into the farm bill lifting the 10-year statute of limitations on old debts to Uncle Sam.

No one seems eager to take credit for reopening all these long-closed cases. A Social Security spokeswoman says the agency didn’t seek the change; ask Treasury. Treasury says it wasn’t us; try Congress. Congressional staffers say the request probably came from the bureaucracy…

This is just a desperate ploy from a government which is greedy for every dollar it can lay its hands on – but it also shows (if ObamaCare didn’t clue you in) that no one in government really knows what is happening…its all done behind the scenes with lobbyists and bureaucrats and staffers inserting things into bills and regulations without anyone accountable to the people really knowing what is going on.

This, of course, needs to be repealed – it is un-American to seek to collect debts owed by one person from another.  If the person who owes the money is dead and there’s no estate to collect it from, then the debt is a write-off.  Whether or not anyone in Congress will step up to fix this particular problem remains to be seen – but the ultimate fix to this is to prohibit Congress from passing laws of more than, say, 10 type-written pages…and to prohibit the bureaucracy from implementing new regulations (which also must not be more than 10 type-written pages long) before Congressional approval of each new regulation.

UPDATE – technically unrelated, but check out what is happening with the Bundy Ranch in Nevada.  True, its a dispute over grazing rights which has been going on for decades…but whatever one wishes to think about the particulars of the case, why did Uncle Sam whistle up an army to round of the man’s cattle?  Why make a “free speech” zone?

Given that this is Nevada and we have Harry Reid and the BLM is involved, I’m immediately suspicious that this is just another corrupt land deal – there are stories that this land is to be set aside for a solar plant with a Reid son involved.  I’m not so sure about that – this has been going on too long for that (since 1993).  I’m more thinking that since it is some really nice countryside (and the Virgin river runs year-round through it as it heads towards Lake Mead) that someone has a mind to build some resorts out there – and ol’ Harry has been more than once involved in screwy land dealings where, hey presto!, BLM land is made available to the “public” and Reid cronies make a killing.

A Constitutional Convention of the States

With the movement for a Constitutional Convention of the States picking up steam, in spite of being completely ignored by the MSM, this is a topic that is long overdue for discussion. Amazona asked that I re-post her comment from the previous thread outlining the constitutional amendments suggested by Mark Levin in his recent best-seller, “The Liberty Amendments.

“Mark Levin is proposing ten amendments to the Constitution. Each one is written in thoughtful language so as to preclude any ancillary problems:

1) Term Limits: He proposes limiting service in both the House and Senate to 12 years. Yes, we’ve heard all the arguments about elections being the best limit. But the past 100 year has proven that to be false. As someone who works day and night to throw the bums out, I can tell you that is nearly impossible to throw them out with the amount of money they raise – precisely for their abuses of power. Levin also proves that limiting time in office was a highly regarded proposal during the Constitutional Congress.

2) Repealing the 17th Amendment: Levin proposes repealing the 17th amendment and vesting state legislators with the power to elect senators so that the power of states is not diluted, as originally feared by the framers of the Constitution.

3) Restoring the Judiciary to its proper role: The Judiciary was never meant to be an all-powerful institution in which five men in robes have the final say over every major policy battle in the country. In order to end judicial tyranny, Levin proposes limiting service to one 12-year term, and granting both Congress and the state legislatures the authority to overturn court decisions with the vote of three-fifths of both houses of Congress or state legislative bodies.

4) Limiting Taxation and Spending: Levin proposes a balanced budget amendment, limiting spending to 17.5% of GDP and requiring a three-fifths vote to raise the debt ceiling. He also proposes limiting the power to tax to 15% of an individual’s income, prohibiting other forms of taxation, and placing the deadline to file one’s taxes one day before the next federal election.

5) Limiting bureaucracy: He proposes an amendment to limit and sunset federal regulations and subject the existence of all federal departments to stand-alone reauthorization bills every three years.

6) Defining the Commerce Clause: Levin writes an amendment that, while technically unnecessary, is practically an imperative to restoring the original intent of the Commerce Clause. The amendment would make it clear that the commerce clause grants not power to actively regulate and control activity; rather to prevent states from impeding commerce among other states, as Madison originally intended.

7) Limiting Federal power to take private property

8) Allowing State Legislature to Amend the Constitution: Although the Framers intentionally made it difficult to amend the Constitution, they did so to preserve the Republic they created. However, the progressives have illegally altered our Republic through a silent and gradual coup without using the amendment process. If we are going to successfully push the aforementioned amendments, we will need an easier mechanism to force them through. The proposed amendment allows states to bypass Congress and propose an amendment with support of just two-thirds of the states (instead of three-fourths) and without convening a convention.

9) State Authority to Override Congress: A proposed amendment to allow states to override federal statutes by majority vote in two-thirds of state legislatures. The last two proposals are rooted in the idea that the states only agreed to the Constitution on condition that their power would not be diluted and that all federal power is derived from the states.

10) Protecting the Vote: A proposal to require photo ID for all federal elections and limit early voting.

Taken as a whole, there is no doubt that these amendments would restore our Republican form of government. Every proposal is backed up by scholarly analysis of the Framers’ view on the proposal, an overview of what has changed since the founding, and the rationale for why the proposal is necessary. You should read the entire book. As someone who is busy reading all the current news every day, this is the only political book I made time to read all year.”

Our Incredible, Static Debt

This report from CNS states that while we were running a $98 billion deficit for the month of July, the national debt – per the Treasury – remained at exactly $16,699,396,000,000.00 during the whole month.  This is $25 million below the legally authorized debt limit.

This is, also, not mathematically possible – the Treasury Secretary did advise Speaker Boehner as of May 17th – when our debt officially hit the number it stayed at all through July, and is still at as of yesterday – that Treasury would be putting in to place “extraordinary” measures to keep the debt below the legal limit.  What are these extraordinary measures?  Not made clear – likely because it is just another word for “lie”.

It is simply not possible that our debt could remain exactly the same over this period of time – it would have to go up or down.  Given the amount of spending we’re doing, “down” is not at all likely, and so it is almost a certainty that it has gone up…and probably vastly more than the $25 million gap between reported figure and legal limit.  So, Treasury is almost certainly lying about how much we owe and borrowing money it cannot legally borrow…and no one in Congress is calling Treasury on it; neither are the financial markets.  A massive lie is being treated as if it didn’t exist by all of the Ruling Class on this country.

Such is the sad state of affairs we live in – a bankrupt country run by cowards, liars and crooks.

And some might wonder, still, why I want a revolution – peaceful, to be sure; at the ballot box, of course (and as our Founders intended); but a revolution, nonetheless.  The entire Ruling Class has to be turned out and new people, new ideas and new laws made to ensure that the truth is what governs our nation.

The Gipper

50 years later, and still no one has articulated the downside to big government better than the Gipper.

Folks, since 1964 this country has spent over $15 trillion dollars on eradicating poverty and today, the poverty statistics are the same if not a little worse. It was reported not too long ago that 4 out of 5 American families are one missed paycheck away from poverty, yet every year and every campaign, big government politicians, particularly Democrats, run on helping the poor – do you believe them anymore? Do you really think more money will cure the problem? Do you honestly believe they want to solve the problem?

The other day Mersault understandably was frustrated over the VA health care administration, to which I remind everyone that is what government health care is – a bloated, inefficient bureaucracy ran by bureaucrats focused more on file organization and lunch breaks than the administration of care, and that is what we are all in for with Obamacare. No one has ever been able to explain to me how adding an additional layer of bureaucracy to an industry can bring down costs.

Welfare, disability, unemployment and labor force measurements are all at alarming levels, so my question to big government advocates is – how is this working out for you?