The dangerous separation of the American upper middle class | Brookings Institution

According to this far-reaching study by think-tank, Brookings, the American upper middle class is separating from the rest of society. They argue that gaps are growing on a whole range of dimensions, income, family structure, education, lifestyle, and geography.

Source: The dangerous separation of the American upper middle class | Brookings Institution

Firstly, there was the ‘American Dream’ , then in recent years there has been a preoccupation with the top 1%, now we are led to believe that it’s the top 20% who are pulling away from the rest. In the US, income is an important leveler but also elitist education.




Opinion – Commission shakes up top management – POLITICO

European flag outside the Commission

European flag outside the Commission (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This article by Washington newspaper, Politico is an excellent read. The highlight seems to be that Juncker says the new roster of senior staffers still includes too few women. I sense that the writer is secretly laughing at Europe. Perhaps, he/she should read today’s NYT about rising homicides in the US?

Source: Commission shakes up top management – POLITICO

Having been used to the cut and thrust of senior management in both the private and public sectors, I was very disappointed when I read this article. For me the ‘shake-up’ was a game of musical chairs. But when we played musical chairs at birthday parties for seven year olds, the objective of the game was to remove chairs and identify the smartest and strongest seven-year old.

Last year, given the strategic crisis with regard to energy in Europe, I took a hard look at the European Commission’s Energy Directorate. I was amazed at the absence of talent and tame plants from national governments. Most of all, I was shocked by the absence of professional expertise and hard experience outside of national or European bureaucracies. There was a complete absence of strategic thinkers and I got the impression that there was a bias towards liberal and green issues that subordinated strategic priorities. A large percentage of the staff were dealing with regulatory or green issues. My conclusion was that this part of the European Commission’s bureaucracy was managed by political flunkies and populated by paper-shuffling bureaucrats. I was seriously unimpressed.

Permit me to indulge and speculate, indeed generalize, based upon my insights into the energy directorate. I fear that across the board the European Commision is:

  • Planted with strategic national tame candidates at executive, managerial and professional levels – let’s call them ‘political flunkies’
  • External expertise is ignored
  • Self-enhancement is the primary motivation for European Commission staff, rather than leading policy reform and tackling Europe’s srategic challenges

As I get more depressed thinking about the subject, I conclude that it is perhaps not surprising that the European Commission is weak on effective policy. Let’s look at the evidence. Can you identify The Commision’s policies for dealing effectively with:

  • Economic development
  • Jobs growth
  • Defense
  • Foreign policy
  • Immigration
  • Industrial development
  • Healthcare

With millions of young people out of work in Europe because of misguided European Commission policies, surely it’s time to take an ax to the European Commission and outsource 90% of the staff apart from real policy experts?



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