The coronavirus pandemic exposes the horrifying reality of a dysfunctional America.
Frighteningly, 83,629 Americans had died of coronavirus as of 13 May 2020, Worldometers estimates. In contrast India reported 2,535 coronavirus deaths, the People’s Republic of China reported 4,633 coronavirus deaths, and Russia reported 2,212 coronavirus deaths on the same day.
No informed person will mistake India or Russia for well-governed countries. Yet those nations’ leaderships appear to have coronavirus under control. Conversely, the world’s most powerful nation appears incapable of coping with COVID-19.
America’s Dysfunctional Leadership Classes
One small news story demonstrates just how dysfunctional America’s leadership classes have become. On 8 May 2020, Vice President Mike President Mike Pence (R-Indiana) took time out from his duties as chair of the White House’s coronavirus taskforce to meet with a group of food industry executives, The Cincinnati Enquirerreports.
Moreover, the food executives; whose industry is threatened by employee infections and supply-chain disruption interrupted their important work to meet with a politician. Disgustingly, news photographs show Pence and food executives; such as Kroger (NYSE: KR) CEO Rodney McMullen. in public without masks at the event.
Kroger, America’s largest standalone grocer, is forcing employees and shoppers to wear masks in its stores. Yet its CEO will not wear one in public. Disgustingly, I think Pence attended the food industry event to shake executives down for campaign donations.
America’s Dysfunctional Leadership Culture
This news story shows the sick priorities of America’s so-called leaders. Our leaders demonstrate that politics are now more important to our leaders than the health, security, and safety of ordinary Americans.
Such behavior is indicative of a dysfunctional leadership culture similar to the political environment in the former Soviet Union. To explain, in the Soviet empire loyalty to the Communist Party was more important than competence or ability.
Similarly, in modern America the establishment places loyalty or deference to political leadership over effectiveness. For instance, the media pays more attention to executives who engage in political theater with elected officials.
Why Bezos is an Effective Leader and Politicians are Not
A stark contrast to the federal government’s muddled response to coronavirus is Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN). Amazon has stayed in operation and kept merchandise flowing to customers’ doors at the height of the crisis.
Notably, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ recent behavior is a stark contrast to the behavior of traditional business leaders and politicians. Bezos quickly isolated himself at his remote Texas ranch and reasserted control of Amazon at the start of the crisis in March, The New York Times reports.
Bezos was discussing the details of Amazon inventory with executives while Trump was holding press conferences. Responsibly, Bezos went out of his way to stay healthy and available to lead through the crisis. Meanwhile, Trump, Pelosi, and others were more interested in the spotlight than functional control.
Since, the coronavirus crisis began Bezos has made one public appearance at an Amazon fulfillment center. In contrast, President Trump keeps appearing at such dubious events as a V-E Day ceremony for World War II veterans.
The veterans tribute could easily be postponed to a future safer date but Trump insisted on holding it to get in a photo op. Thus Trump; who dodged the Vietnam War draft, risks the lives of real heroes; elderly veterans, to play President on TV.
Bezos’ focus and effectiveness are the leadership America needs. Unfortunately our political, business, and media culture is incapable of fostering such leadership.
Effective Leadership in America
Notably, the three most effective business leaders in modern America; Bezos, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) founder Bill Gates, and super investor Warren Buffett, isolate themselves from our dysfunctional leadership class.
Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK.B) CEO Buffett famously lives and works in Omaha, Nebraska, far from New York and Washington. Bezos and Gates live and work in Seattle, Washington, on the other side of the country from Washington.
Likewise, Buffett and Gates make a point of not making political donations or endorsing politicians. In contrast, Bezos only takes ceremonial meetings with political leaders out of courtesy.
I think Gates, Buffett, and Bezos are effective because they avoid our toxic political and business culture. Notably, Gates, Buffett, and Bezos are all antisocial introverts and bookworms.
Importantly, Gates was one of the few Americans to foresee the pandemic danger and issue warnings about it. Furthermore, Bezos; an acquaintance of Gates and Buffett, isolated himself fast at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States.
America’s Toxic and Dysfunctional Leadership Culture
The extent of the coronavirus catastrophe shows that America’s leadership culture in many fields has become toxic and dysfunctional.
American politics, law, education, sports, the media, religion, retail, traditional business, finance, academia, and many other fields are all plagued by dysfunctional leadership. Symptoms of this dysfunction include woke culture, the antivaxxers, climate change denial, celebrity culture, growing income inequality, ludicrous CEO salaries, the retail apocalypse, rising technological unemployment, and the news media’s inability to cover major stories.
Coronavirus demonstrates that Americans need to have a discussion about what effective leadership is and how it works. In addition, it is now time start holding incompetent, corrupt, self-serving, and dysfunctional leaders accountable.
America’s Leadership Crisis
Investors, voters, and citizens need to be aware of America’s leadership crisis and compensate for it. For example, investors and citizens need to understand that government response to crises will be slow, clumsy, ineffective, and hamstrung by politics.
Furthermore, anticipating leadership failure and investing in those companies with effective leadership; such as Amazon, Walmart (NYSE: WMT), Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK.A), Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX), Disney (NYSE: DIS), and Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) could be a great way to make money.
In the final analysis, dysfunctional leadership is a central problem in modern America. Addressing the problem of dysfunctional leadership is one of the great challenges of our age.