Tag Archives: democracy

Detroit – democracy or republic?

Yesterday,  I was getting some physical therapy done on my neck.  Yes it was from golfing, I believe, and yes I understand I am getting older.  As I was laying on the table getting my heat treatment the radio station was talking about Detroit’s emergency financial manager.  If you haven’t heard about it, good, most of us have enough negative things to deal with already.  What’s going on is the govener of the State of Michigan, Rick Snyder, has declared an emergency manager to come in and try to save Detroit City from going bankrupt.  They have hired, Kevyn Orr, attorney and turnaround specialist that helped save Chrysler.  One of the reasons this is attracting so much attention is because it is the biggest city to come under state oversight.  Detroit also has the potential to become the largest bankruptcy ever filed!  What caught my attention was the comments that citizens of Detroit and outsiders were making about the situation.


Before I state my comments on this, understand I do not claim to know the law, what is constitutional, to know all the specifics, but I do know how to build a successful business and I understand human nature.  Those are the two angles that I am coming from as I comment.

The first thing they were discussing was how outraged everyone is that someone was doing this.  Now,  the man is there to save the city not hurt the city.  He is also doing the job that the elected officials are obviously incapable of doing.  Detroit has been on a steady decline and is on the verge of going totally bankrupt!  The definition of insanity is to continue doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.  A guaranteed way to fail is to NOT allow new ideas or new perspectives on problems.  There are to many people that are only worried about their reputation and not about getting results.  It shocks me how many politicians are voted into office that have never run a successful company.  Here is the difference.  A business owner knows he must make correct decisions and if incorrect he must adjust quickly.  He also must spend the money wisely because he has a limited amount and his success is on the line.  A politician that doesn’t have business experience is in a dangerous position.  He or she is spending money that they did nothing to earn and they really will not be held responsible for what happens.  This is called a third party purchase or OPM, other peoples money.  If you were just given some money and there were no consequences to what you did with it, you would spend on what you want, right?  If you knew that your job was depended on the people that voted you in, you would naturally cater to them even if it’s not the right decision long term.

The second thing that caught my attention was a caller that said,”This is undemocratic” “We are a democracy and we should all have a say in this situation.”  I about fell of the table when I heard that.  I think I started talking back to the radio.  Obviously, they couldn’t hear me but the other patients laying on tables probably thought I was nuts 🙂  We are not a democracy and we don’t want to be one.  Do we want to have a voice, yes, but we do not want a democratic voice.  Wikipedia defines democracy as,”Every one in the population has an equal voice.”  Let me give you an example to bring this home.  When you are trying to determine where to invest your money do you take a democratic poll from your family?  Little five year old Johnny,”Where do you think we should invest our money?” “What about you uncle Bob?” You have been bankrupt twice.  Let me give you another one.  What if the neighborhood took a vote on what houses they were going to tear down to help the neighborhood look better.  They voted and yours was the one they decided to knock down.  Democracy doesn’t sound so good now.  We say that is absurd!  It is just as absurd to have the population have an EQUAL voice in matters they have no clue what they are talking about.  If the citizens of Detroit think they can fix the problem they are delusional.  Most people can’t even manage their own house but now they want to have an equal voice in running a major city.  We always use democracy when we aren’t getting what WE want.  What we really need is the ability to put people in positions that they have knowledge on what to do and also have the ability to remove them if they aren’t doing the job.

What we ultimately want is a working republic.  We want the ability to vote people in that know what they are doing.  Not someone that has a great smile and lots of money to run ads.  We also need an easy way to get them out if they are not performing.  My mentor Orrin Woodward co-authored a new book with Oliver DeMille called “LeaderShift.”  They give a detailed plan on how to do what I am  talking about.  There is a story that shortly after our country was officially formed, Benjamin Franklin emerged from a building and a lady asked,”What kind of government do we have, a democracy?”  Franklin answered with,” A Republic, if you can keep it.”  What he meant was if we ever get to the point that the citizens are uneducated and revert to mob rule (democracy).  It will be over.  Buy “LeaderShift” and you will be amazed at the solution.

Bill Lewis