reform in leadership
By Jim Killebrew
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[March 07, 2014]
leadership characteristics, both inherent and learned, by an
individual are important markers that determine the kind of
leadership a person practices. In our society it has been aptly
demonstrated that many politicians don't give a whit about telling
the truth. Lying is more the norm than the exception. The Illinois
gubernatorial election this year should place the highest priority
on ethics reform, given the circumstances of several governors
leaving office. For almost as long as anyone can remember,
politicians in Illinois have been branded with unethical conduct.
Instead of ethical reform, however, the current slate of Republicans
and the sitting Democrat are talking about everything but ethics
We are hearing a lot about taxes and the economy. The minimum wage
is occupying some talk-time in the debates. Everyone seems to have a
plan for more funding in education, and funding for agriculture
seems to be a very hot item in Illinois. Since the issue of
concealed carry is looming across the land, there has been plenty of
ink laid out for that issue. The legalization of marijuana, Illinois
infrastructure, higher education, the use of incentives to lure
businesses and industry into Illinois have raked in some media time,
and of course, the ability to work on a bipartisan level by
"crossing the aisle" is always an attention-grabber.
Politicians have talked almost nonstop about the economy and the
debt for the past several years, especially in Illinois, since it has
one of the highest debts of all the states. One thing that has been
missing for awhile, however, is the knowledge and practice of
stewardship of the resources provided by the taxpayer. For Illinois
politics, stewardship seems scarce. Stewardship is a responsibility;
more than that, however, stewardship is a privilege.
Stewardship is service carried out by a person who is responsible
for possessions belonging to another. The steward is responsible to
carry out the owner's instructions regarding that property. Elected
officials become the stewards of the people's resources. Governments
may levy taxes, but everything collected is subject to appropriate
use. When the framers of our form of government put quill pen to
parchment and wrote those enduring words "We the people ... ," the
values changed from feudal lords, monarchy and privilege, to
individuals with freedom.
Each individual living in a stable society must strive toward
maintaining integrity, high moral values and trust. More
important, the person who is thrust by "we the people" to be an
official is even more obligated to take on a lifestyle of the
highest character. To marginalize the need for ethics is to abrogate
that responsibility of stewardship. It is shameful that Illinois
politicians have spent to a deficit of many billions of dollars.
There is not a family in Illinois that could maintain that
proportion of deficit spending and expect to prosper.
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Clearly, those responsible for this deficit have been poor
stewards of the people's resources. It resulted in money being spent
for "bridges to nowhere" and projects that benefit only a few.
Meanwhile, communities read about local school programs being
eliminated due to limited resources. We find politicians now
discussing pensions, shortfalls of funding, higher taxes, need for
reform and more accountability.
The plight of Illinois is not unlike the circumstances we are
experiencing throughout the United States. We are bombarded from the
policy wonks and the news reporters about our debt climbing into the
trillions of dollars. "Generational debt" it is being called:
borrowing from our children and grandchildren to pay off our current
debt. As individual states and the federal government collectively
continue to fashion our national economy upon a foundation of deceit
and shadow truth, the integrity of our way of life will continue to
plummet. Stewardship of resources is squandered by professional,
lifelong career politicians who seem to have an epiphany of
conscience about the time re-election rolls around.
In the leadership role of a public office, no matter what level, the
foundational strength is the individual's moral character, along
with practiced ethics and values of good stewardship.
Is this not among the most important requisites for holding any
[By JIM KILLEBREW]
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