Unlocking Real Value Blog

Top Ten Thoughts of a Washington Veteran

The keynote speaker at the Fi360 conference last week was Paul O’Neill – former CEO of Alcoa and Treasury Secretary under George W. Bush. His reputation is for being honest and straightforward – and he still is. Most refreshing was his willingness to admit that he has made mistakes and to give opinions even when they are unpopular – no wonder why he didn’t make it as a politician! Here are some very interesting things that he said:

10) The government is as guilty as anyone in showing a lack of fiduciary responsibility. He noted that in this meeting of almost 400 people focused on fiduciary responsibility, not one was from the government.

9) There should be a Chapter 11 mechanism for nations – especially those that do not live within their means (this was in a general comment about the events in Greece).

8) The real number for unfunded government liabilities is somewhere in the neighborhood of $63 trillion. If private sector managers ran their companies like the government runs its finances, they would probably be in jail.

7) The problem with the current 15,000 page proposed financial reform bill is that it is 14,998 pages too long.

6) Another problem with this bill is that people will still be allowed to purchase homes with as little as 5% down; the original proposal has this number at 2.5%.

5) While it is popular to say that the only way to deal with budget deficits is to either raise taxes or cut entitlements, this masks that real problems demand real solutions but are too hard politically. Examples include problems with our education system (see below).

4) 30% of ten-year olds in the US can’t read. How can this country remain great when 10% of its future workforce is ill-equipped?

4) Social Security is the greatest Ponzi Scheme in history – bigger than Madoff.

3) The recent health care reform failed to address quality and cost issues.

2) The US tax code costs $400 billion a year to administer and still under-collects taxes by 15%.

1) Politicians should educate not pander.

Finally, when referring to being fired by President Bush, he said that he is living proof that the true will set you free!

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