My favorite quotes of the month are all about how "the best and the brightest" are being put upon by terrible ideas like limits on CEO salary and talk about cranking up the upper bracket income tax rate. It's actually possible that this country has directed its best and brightest into do-nothing mobster occupations like tax accounting, finance, MBA-style management, marketing, law, and similar unproductive manipulative skills. Many so-called "top schools" have refocused their output into accounting, law, and MBA programs, moving out of the much more capital intensive science and engineering disciplines.
Obviously, under a constant barrage of Republican and faux-Republican (Clinton's "Eisenhower Republican" administration) for nearly 30 years, the federal government's talent level has fallen to 1929 levels. Reagan and the Bushies stuffed the legal system with hundreds, if not thousands, of untalented neocon fruitcakes and it will take decades, if we cared to do the work, to purge that collection of morons from the judicial system. Dedicated talent fled civil service after Reagan made it clear that talent was the last thing he wanted in government. Bush actually actively chased talented civil servants down and tossed it out for 8 years.
If the United States wants to make a comeback, we are going to have to reverse all of this foolishness. The federal government is, once again, going to have to find a way to staff itself with scientific, industrial, economic, diplomatic, legislative, and white collar criminal investigative talent. Our universities and K-12 education system is going to have to relearn how to educated itself, then its students, in disciplines that are based in science and technology, not tax-evading money laundering games.
As anyone who follows history knows, Reagan's "miracle of the markets" is based on the squalor of criminal behavior. Markets, when allowed to run wild, are nothing more than a collection of gangsters in suits wallowing in greed, corruption, and collusion. Game theory has long proven that the basic capitalist theory was a misreading of human nature. Libertarian theory is so far from reality that it appears to be as reality-based as Creationism. Humans are both greedy and lazy. The greediest and laziest are often best suited to take advantage of a system that is not based on laws that regulate those tendencies. Executives are not the cream of any crop and haven't been since the first generation of any industry. Once the founders are gone, the politicians move in and sharks begin to feed on the business culture, turning it from productive to vicious.
Now, we are stuck with a generation or two of our best and brightest who are unsuited for any productive work. The American X, Y, and Z Generations are rarely engineers, scientists, doctors, technicians, or even schooled in any reality-based discipline.
Obviously, the cure is in our tax system. It should be clear that a tax system is designed to encourage or discourage activity. We tax the stuff we don't want to happen and we don't tax the stuff we want to encourage. Currently, our tax system is designed by exactly the people our culture ought to be discouraging. There is no upside to inherited wealth, which is the reason for inheritance taxes. G.W. Bush is the posterboy for why wealth and power should not be inherited. There is no advantage provided to businesses or the culture for excessive executive salaries, it's not like these morons could go somewhere else and make money. We should stop providing corporate tax breaks for executive income expenses. We need alternative energy research and development. We need a working education system. We need manufacturing, infrastructure, and technology. We don't need more lawyers, tax accountants, or MBAs. The fix is to tax the things we don't want to death and to reward the activities we desperately need.
Leadership is top-down. When the top of our corporate structure is incompetent, uneducated, and corrupt, you can expect the economic levels below them to follow. For the last 30 years, from the President to CEOs, our "leadership" has been drawn from the worst of the worst. We have to fix that.