Sunday, March 10, 2013

If You Ran The Country

After this recent Swiss episode with a national referendum over wages for CEOs....there's a German discussion underway if they ought to allow the public to jump into major topics and let them vote "pass or fail".

Before I run off to discuss the German situation.....let's step back and view what the direct vote in Swizterland leads to.  A company now in Switzerland must allow the shareholders to vote on pay-raise for the CEO and board.  Those special hand-shake deals which allow for massive packages when a CEO leaves?  Mostly all forbidden now.  Try to sneak around the rules?  You as the boss of the company....will go off to a Swiss prison for simply attempting to get around the rules.

What happens in Switzerland now?  If you had the company headquarters located in the's fairly good odds that they will make a decision and at least move the top level of the company out....probably to Austria....maybe even Prague.  Some companies will stall the decision for a year or two....but spend time and money reviewing the movement option.

Some companies may elect to stay, but realize in a decade that they can't attract any top managers to their companies....and generally accept the second tier of good but not great managers.

Now to the German discussion....allowing direct participation by the public in national affairs.  Generally, it leads to stupidity down the road.

What you ask is to take what is typically a very difficult topic to understand....relating to health care, business, taxes, or the budget-process.  Instead of letting a small number of intelligent law-makers review the entire episode and come to a rational decision instead turn this into a referendum.  Out of a hundred people on the street....who has time to sit and review the whole problem and can make a rational decision out of something.

So the catch to this whole decision by direct that you get some folks on TV to talk over the topic and after an think you are smart enough because of the production crew choice of 'smart-folks'.

Slanted discussions on TV?  You should bet on that.  Rational decisions coming from slanted discussions?  Only if you went further and read up on the entire topic.  But again....out of a hundred people....only a few would be competent enough to say they can make a wise decision for the nation.

At the state-level.....there might be a huge amount of support for doing this....because you could press down each year for two or three major changes, and suddenly over five years....have a drastically different German state in front of you.  They might convince the public to offer incentives and bring more business to their state....squeezing out business from other states.  They might convince the public to offer free land to companies that want to move into the state.

What happens in this case?  It's hard to predict the German reaction on the street.    Some might say that they'd like to run Germany instead of the stupid politicians in Berlin.  Some might say that they are much wiser than the current folks in charge.  And some might admit publicly ....this is not what they'd be capable of.

In my own conventional wisdom?  It's management-by-the-front-page-of-Bild.  And if you like that type of government....go for it.

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