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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Governing the Revolutions

Hey Barry:

Looks like a few countries will be installing brand new governments. I'm sure y'all will issue real congratulations and offer them any help they want.

That's all good so long as we don't be Ugly Americans about it. Here's the thing - we are not 'xactly seen as squeaky clean bearers of gifts in that area. After all, we are shooting and bombing people in at least two countries today and also we are big supporters of Israel.

So whatever we say or do is gonna be looked at real suspiciously. Hillary's all over that so we don't have to belabor it.

The rest of this is not about you, even though you may be interested.

It's a little out of my league of economic policies, but I'm gonna offer some ideas directly to the folks who will be running those countries soon. Maybe the ideas can be useful.

IT'S HARD - SO KEEP SOME FOLKS

Managing a country where your people just kicked out the people who ran the place is real hard. There's a temptation to arrest and ban anyone who was in the prior government. Only trouble is: they know what to do.

It's worth trying to keep some experts around so the country will run smoothly. It's a balancing act to keep the experts from the prior government in their job AND be sure they are loyal to the new government. And it'll be even harder when tribes are involved. Remember that most of the former regime's supporters just wanted a job and said what they had to say.

Suggestion: Make sure all the critical decisions require at least two people to sign off. Don't let any single person decide critical issues. And make sure one of the signers is loyal to the new government. For those folks from the prior government, make them sign a loyalty oath and personally interview them to decide if you can trust them. Do this with respect and sincerity. Together with requiring at least two people to approve major decisions, that should reduce problems.

Whenever you're in doubt about a person with critical skills, remember the world is full of expats who would love a good paying job. Hire a foreigner who has no connection in the country to run a technical operation.

THE OTHER GUYS ARE CROOKS

Of course they are. That's why your revolution won the war.

Now, you need to show compassion and grace. Do not torture or execute them. Do put them on trial for all their crimes and then put them in jail. Seize all their illegally gained assets. Any property they acquired while acting in an official capacity should be forfeit.

Don't waste time on vendettas. You have a lot of work that needs your attention. If you act wisely you will get respect from your people and from the international community - both of which are more important than lynching some petty crook.

MODERATING HOPE

Your followers want everything to change right now. If you encourage that feeling, you will disappoint them. It is inevitable; reality will always lag behind dreams. The difficulty for you is that when your follower's hopes run ahead of your delivering results, you may be the next government to suffer revolution.

Here's a two prong approach to that problem. First, frequently give speeches and press conferences where you list all the difficulties in running the country. The goal is to educate people about how hard it is and to simultaneously reduce their expectation about the pace of change.

Second, create real job openings and create real help for people who want to start small businesses. Your goal is to give some of your followers a real path to a good life. That will mean some new bureaucracies and maybe some help from expats. As word of the new programs spreads throughout your followers, it will reduece frustrations.

The combination of reducing expectations and simultaneously providing real opportunities makes it easier to keep the peace.

REDUCE CORRUPTION

A lot of money was leaving your country because some former government officials were stealing it and sending it to Swiss banks.

Of course, you will put those officials on trial. Then the big question is how to prevent a new generation of crooks.

One good answer is to create an open bidding process. In other words whenever there is a government contract to be awarded, award it to the highest bidder or lowest cost provider depending on the contract.

If the bidding process is public with a public review of the contracts, then corruption is less liklely.

ELECTIONS

Hold elections as quickly and as often as possible. Officials at every level should be elected - national, provincial, local.

Anyone who has authority should be elected by the people over whom he has authority. The only permissable deviation is when an election is so obviously crooked that the results will not represent the will of the people.

FREE PRESS

Please take a lesson from the USA. A free press is critical to any honest government. reporters are the eyes and ears of the public. They are what makes any government action subject to review. If there is no free press, there will be more corruption.

Everyone in the world wants you to succeed. Don't be shy about asking for help.

Your pal,

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