Calvin Coolidge, the 30th president of the U.S. said, “The business of America is business.” What he meant was that if the nation’s businesses run well everything else will be all right. He also was acknowledging that in a Capitalistic Society we know how to run a business.

Considering that the American model of business is copied all over the world and that governments from other countries send their students here to take our MBA programs there is more than a little truth in Coolidge’s statement. Still, our government could take some lessons from business as regards planning and effecting change.

Management planning comes under a number of titles: Zero Based Budgeting, Management by Objects, and Shared Governance, to name just three. For years our business theorists have given us approaches and systems to apply to almost every kind of business. Unfortunately, those theories so closely followed by successful businesses have not found their way to government.

A well run business develops plans that take it into the future. In the formative stages of the planning process those who share the business responsibilities are asked for ideas so that everyone involved not only has an opportunity for input but, also, will know where the business is headed so they can pitch in to help. At least, that is what the management text books at our universities tell us.

If one wants to borrow money to start a new business and goes to the bank the first thing the bank will request is a business plan. The business plan should include current assets, the need for the product or business service, an assessment of the marketplace, and the projected use of the money.

Now, please answer the following questions.

What is the energy plan of the U.S.?

How do wind, pipelines, and more efficient cars fit into a plan?

What is the plan to stop illegal immigration?

How do the fence, enforcing employment law, and the National Guard fit into a plan?

What is the plan to balance the budget?

At what point will the federal deficit become the tail that wags the dog?

I could ask similar questions regarding other important issues. For these three I would have to confess that I don’t know what the plans are. I would hope that our leadership in Washington D.C. has plans for handling these important issues but, if they do, they aren’t sharing their plan with “we the people.”

If a business plan is necessary before a business can borrow money shouldn’t our government, our biggest business and the ultimate borrower, be required to have a comprehensive business plan? Our government’s lack of planning has the country in debt to one funding source or another for more than $19 trillion. Worse, it has our people and political parties fighting among themselves. If our people don’t know the government’s plan to solve the debt problem, the illegal immigration problem, the energy problem how can they become a part of making the plan successful?

Take energy as an example. Today, we fight over each little happening; the U.S.-Canadian pipeline, where windmills can be put, off-shore drilling, etc. Having a plan would tell us where each one fits into the solution to our problems. It would also help us understand where energy fits in the national priorities and the allocation of money in the federal budget for energy related issues.

Our lack of such planning reminds me of what French film director Nicolas Hulot called the “Titanic Syndrome.” Picture a giant luxury ship steaming along at night through icebergs, with all the lights on and the band playing. Picture the results of not planning ahead, of not slowing down and being careful.

The lack of a viable plan in so many areas is what the next election should be about.

— Dr. Mark L. Hopkins writes for More Content Now and Scripps Newspapers. He is past president of colleges and universities in four states and currently serves as executive director of a higher-education consulting service. You will find Hopkins’ latest book, “Journey to Gettysburg,” on Amazon.com. Contact him at presnet@presnet.net.