Global and local politics

U.S. President Bill Clinton’s private affairs affect not only U.S. politics and economy but reverberate right around the globe.
The poor economy of eastern Germany has helped oust one chancellor, install another, and keep Europe favourable as an investment climate for Canadians.
Problems of governance in Latin America and the “Asian Tigers” are wreaking havoc with personal mutual fund portfolios in Northwestern Ontario.
Those are just a few examples of politics as a change force.
To become as astute about the future as we possibly can be, it helps to think about what is going on in the “engines” that drive change. The word “engine” is intentional. What each engine powers or drives, changes over time but it always has something on the go!
The eight change engines are:
•Population
•Politics/governance
•Socio-economy
•Information
•Technology
•Use of resources
•Values
•Nature
These change forces act synergistically so the combined impact is much greater than their sum. Still, it is useful to examine each of them and how they affect us.
Politics includes all the processes of selecting those who represent the populace. Governance is about keeping order, making decisions, providing services for taxes, and attending to the future.
Politics and governance go together but they are not the same thing.
Three years ago, Cliff McIntosh and I were in Japan on a study tour. People told us about massive corruption in the government. But we also visited keiretsus (collaborative business conglomerates) and heard about their high quality standards, lifelong employment, and the importance of business integrity.
It was very hard to believe that the nation’s business could be in great shape while its governance was seriously corrupt.
In late November, we found out for sure that it couldn’t be. And since then, the fallout has been felt by businesses and private investors world-wide.
The shaky government situation in India disrupted that nation’s economy. Gold buying there was way down and depressed the gold market. That hurt mining activity and employment in Northwestern Ontario!
Lately there have been some upward blips in precious metals prices.
The power of trans-national corporations, and the speed of world-wide trade, are making some government tasks more difficult. One of those is the control of currency. The value of our loonie falters not only in relationship to the U.S. greenback.
It has been said that “governments are now too big to look after the specific interests of individuals, and too small to look after the global issues that affect everyone.”
To the degree that is true, it indicates many further upheavals. Thoughtful people may regard that as self-evident already.
In Ontario, massive provincial cost cutting, and efforts at more efficient service delivery, are now in full swing. Jobs continue to decline in some sectors. But the business climate has recovered considerably.
This province is now quite well regarded internationally as a place for investment and trade.
Northwestern Ontario has special challenges–and chances. We are reorganizing municipalities and unorganized territories to meet the new realities. Creative initiatives are now underway to combine resource and technology use for efficiency while maintaining local autonomy.
That’s true in health care, and it can happen in education, municipal administration, and more.
Linda Wiens is an organization effectiveness advisor, editor of a regional newsletter, and vice-president of Quetico Centre.

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