Merriott column: How did we get here? (does it matter) How do we move forward?
Outstanding leadership is not overrated. It is an absolute necessity for success at every level of our society in our every endeavor — from our families, to our workplaces, to town government, to Garfield County, to the statehouse in Denver, to the halls of Congress and the White House in DC.
Hopefully, most of us can agree that we have had no real leadership in Washington for quite some time now. To be clear, the Supreme Court has done its job, but the other two branches are a total disappointment. This second stimulus package should have had public debate and been out 90 days ago!
My fear is this lack of leadership could at some point start to trickle down (you know like the tax cuts did) all the way to our home in Carbondale. That is, if it has not already.
After 10 months of COVID-19 I have noticed Carly’s and my leadership skills at home have deteriorated, even after almost 40 years. I do not feel at the top of my game. Of course, that could be I’m getting older, my shoulder replacement surgery, or having to cancel the trip last fall to take my girls to Rome, Montreux and then Paris to see Jimmy Buffett at La Cigale?
If you are blessed in a leadership role right now and you feel you’re at the top of your game, I would ask you to look in the mirror. Make sure you are actively searching out the opinions of those you don’t agree with. It is a much-needed skill in this day and time, the respectful thing to do and a requirement of leadership.
The day before this writing, almost 4,000 people died of COVID, putting us at a total of nearly 340,000. As a CPA, I am obsessed at times with numbers. The U.S. has a population of 331 million, which is 4% of the world’s population of 7.8 billion. Yet, we have 19% of the world’s deaths and 24% of the cases of the COVID virus. Our population percentage would dictate deaths of 75,000, not 340,000. We are talking a difference of 450%!
Another way to look at it is that 265,000 Americans have died that did not have to. This is a result of poor leadership.
Our country has a much-needed chance to make a fresh start with a new administration as it does every four years. What say we give Biden the benefit of the doubt, honor the win of the popular vote by some 8 million votes and help, not hinder, the transition.
Let’s earnestly seek compromises. This has to be an all-hands-on-deck response to issues that need attention. Some have simmered for years. Our country is running out of time to begin fixing them.
The pandemic is a no-brainer and public enemy number one. We have two to six months of hell left, and then we will have to pivot and deal with climate change. This is an existential threat which has been largely ignored by our leaders for the last four years.
To remind everyone, this last summer we had the three largest fires in the history of Colorado — the Cameron Peak Fire (208,663 acres), East Troublesome Fire (192,560) and Pine Gulch Fire (139,007). These fires killed thousands of animals and caused property damage, with a cost to fight in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The fires were equally bad or worse in California, Australia and Siberia.
Then we have wealth disparity/income inequality, social justice, education, immigration and worn-out infrastructure. It’s daunting and overwhelming, but we don’t have a choice. And, make no mistake it will be hard work, but we can do it.
Let’s not wait for some sort of defining moment like 911 to bring us together. The enemy is not the press, your neighbor or people working in the fossil fuels or renewable energy sector. It’s still bad actors like Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.
The effort can and should start locally with partnerships between counties, the state and municipalities. We need to speak truth to power but we also need our leaders, all our leaders, to speak truth to us — all of us.
This may include supporters who are clearly not as informed as they should be. We only get these chances every four years; let’s make the best of it. I don’t have many left, and our country depends on it.
Frosty Merriott is a CPA in Carbondale and considers himself a moderate independent.
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