In recent days I am sure many Australians have looked on in astonishment at the events that are being played out in the current USA Presidential elections. What appears to be a serious escalation to which has already been a rather ugly and bruising campaign from both sides? Events have taken a turn the western world never have been envisaged in years gone by regardless of one’s politics.

America more than any country in the world has seen their own long term view as being in the undeniable position as the so called “leaders of the free world” largely dismantled due decisions taken by their own hand which have gone horribly wrong and have had a very negative effect on world affairs.

Twenty five years ago Ronald Regan and Margaret Thatcher colluded to support the notion that markets should be free from hindrance from interfering government and championed what we call today globalisation. The free market was not to be touched and barriers to be trade abolished (it be must be said what they really meant NIMBY (but not in my back yard for both countries),little did they realise they would not be able to reseal Pandora’s Box once opened, the free market took over and the rest is of course history.

As a consequence of this strategy deals were struck such as The North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico (NAFTA). Other countries took the opportunity to form major alliances such as the expansion of the European Economic Community (EEC), THE Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). The ultimate change in the world economy was when President Deng of the Peoples Republic of China visited the south of that country and declared China would begin to operate a quasi-system of allowing a limited capitalist system whilst still having a firm hand of control.

This would lead to both countries being hoisted on their on their own petard as trade moved in a direction contrary to their best interests. The unfailing belief that the financial markets would always provide a correction to work in their favour and stabilise such a situation was wildly misguided; to compound this move the partial dismantling of the famous Glass-Stegall Act in 1999 ( limiting financial institutions power) just made matters worse. Further allowing the financial markets to operate with almost unabashed freedom. Today the world lives with that legacy of stagnant growth and financial turmoil following that regretful decision. The repudiation of free trade now being openly canvassed by US leaders in the latest campaign.

What seems to be truly evident in this situation we can observe happening over the Atlantic that some of the decisions taken twenty plus years ago are unfortunately driving the population towards behaviours we have previously witnessed throughout history, is it a case of “lets pull up the drawbridge and direct our anger at someone to blame, currently it is Mexicans, Muslims The Chinese,. I don’t think it needs for this commentator to point out the consequences for such reaction, it can lead to catastrophic outcomes as can be seen by studying the world’s history.

In summary the main issues which seem to be causing the society to display such anger and frustration are the following: the performance of the economy which has deteriorated over the past fifteen years, immigration, deadlock in the nation’s political system, concern about its place in the world and a social divide between the wealthy, middle class and poor.

Given the above facts above it is clear the country has reached a point where they have encountered a massive failure in engagement between authority and its people.

So to put this into context before we make a comparison between the two countries the USA has a population of approximately 332 million whilst Australia has only 23 million people within it shores. Of course this means their issues are proportionally bigger than ours.

Even taking into account this imbalance the USA has increasing been responsible for the adoption of practices and culture in this country lessening the impact of our Anglo Saxon beginnings. From our political system to almost every facet of popular culture today we are linked to the United States.

So why take it upon myself to step forward and make what could be viewed as a totally outrageous statement that we may suffer the same fate Americans are experiencing. If you would please let me explain.

As a business person involved in the engagement of people in our workplaces I have had the opportunity and honour to interact with a whole cross section of individuals who have openly expressed opinions which strongly correlate to what we are witnessing in the USA.

The respondents echoed serious concerns about the loss of jobs in the economy to low cost countries, social unrest by part of the community to policies on immigration .Scathing criticism of our political environment which is seen to be wracked with division and a lack of decision making there is a feeling of general inertia. A growing concern of a widening gap between the rich and poor.

Both countries lay claim to be the best country in the world with extensive rhetoric to support their respective cases, there is no doubt their merits have in the past awarded them the substance of these claims. Alas both are guilty of a blinkered and naive approach, the USA has failed to absorb the fact the axis of the world has changed in terms of how life is lived today. In the case of Australia failure to understand the once idyllic lifestyle of our continent cannot be maintained, we do not have the luxury of being a non-participant in a global world. Adjustment to this way of thinking is proving difficult especially the older generations who hunger for the way we were.

In 2015 studies revealed Australia has the lowest engagement levels in our history, the 64,000 dollar question to be answered is” On a national scale can we turn this situation around?”, frankly  I believe this is highly doubtful, not without a much more enlightened view by all parties in our society. On the other hand advances can be achieved by positive groups of individuals and organisations, any successful change will only occur by creating small ripples in our pond.

The messages emanating from the United States of America denies the long held view that politics, business should not be discussed in the same room they are extricably linked  more so than ever today. I would be very surprised if the majority of Australians do not want to descend into this sort of dialogue and behaviours it is truly against our best interests as individuals and as a nation.

It has often been quoted that “When America sneezes we catch a cold” perhaps Australia needs to consider to administer itself the appropriate medicine to stop it developing any further.

Ken Wood


Banyan Management Services Pty Ltd

14th March 2016