This is my thirty-seventh weekly Blog regarding the state of leadership in America. Americans have historically shown that we have a great willingness and capacity to offer help to each other and to people in other countries, especially for humanitarian reasons such as natural disasters and famine. However, with mega-storms and catastrophes hitting the US with increasingly deadly and destructive consequences; with our roads, bridges, and tunnels in desperate need of repair; with a continuing need to protect our borders from illegal immigrates and terrorist infiltrators; and with a mountain of debt and political leaders incapable of fixing our budget woes, we do not have the resources to respond at the levels of foreign aid we provided in the past. Americans are struggling to make ends meet from years of poor fiscal policy and lack of a clear direction from Washington. Our cities are dealing with crime, abandoned homes, deteriorating schools, and limited budgets that are frequently inadequate to solve local problems. Our focus must be on our own citizens and national security. Furthermore, we have an obligation to provide our veterans and their families with the best care our country has to offer. Multiple deployments and disabling amputations have left returning soldiers and veterans fighting to fit back into a family unit that had to repeatedly survive without them for long periods of time. Yes, America is blessed with abundant resources and we should help where we can, but we can’t be the first and best responder every time one of the 195 countries in this world needs help. And what is aggravating is when we do respond, our efforts and money are often not appreciated because much of the world envies America and its high standard of living? Too often the assistance we do provide doesn’t make it down the chain to provide help to those most in need. How many times has a country’s corrupt ruling class syphoned off a large portion of the aid we send? The whole issue of foreign aid is an emotional one with arguments for and against. We spend about one percent of our budget or thirty-seven billion dollars on foreign aid each year with twenty-three billion going to humanitarian assistance and international development and fourteen billion going to foreign military sales. We don’t need to cease all aid or stop it permanently. What we need to do is conduct a thorough review of the foreign aid and analyze what redirecting this aid back into America could accomplish for our own country, our own people. That money could dramatically improve our nation’s infra-structure and create thousands of good paying jobs. We can’t be the 911 for the world. Doing so will impair and over extend our country and one day we could be calling 911 ourselves for help. I wonder who would come to our aid?
Paul Okum has 40 years’ experience with the Federal Government in the Departments of Transportation, Interior, Army, and Defense in numerous leadership positions, including being a US Army officer and a human resources director. Mr. Okum has written ”Leadership DNA,” a provocative and useful guide book allowing readers to broaden their understanding about identifying, selecting, and developing natural born leaders. This guide book shows you the various aspects of leadership, including examining good leaders’ behavior patterns as well as learning how to achieve your objectives and deal with poor managers that can potentially cripple you and your organization.
For more information about Paul Okum and Leadership DNA, visit