I really enjoyed reading that, Tom! I have an example of a counterpoint, sorta:
I remember Rudy Gulliani once saying that when he became Mayor of New York, he viewed all the NYC Burroughs and neighborhoods as businesses and the voting public as stockholders. He proceeded to rid the city of a horrible crime rate (at least for a big city) and enable the different neighborhoods to increase their value based on competitive advantage or other means. I'm not sure if what works for NYC won't work for smaller cities...I think the fundamentals will still apply well as long as the voting public vote in their own best interest based on whatever personal, community, or societal values they have.
Lou Dobbs has said that the politicians and other countries just look at America as an economic engine - for the most part, I agree. But ask any immigrant why they come to America, and you'll mostly likely get an answer of "for the opportunity to make the kind of money I can only dream of from where I come from".
Further, Jack Welch (who I really didn't get at first, not soo much anymore) has said that most corporate boards are chicken about moving forward for fear of their name being smeared if there is a "failure" - most visionary CEOs have an uphill battle with their boards. I think it's unfortunate that failure is soo chastised in corporate America business - I would link it to impatience and over-competitiveness in the marketplace. Mid-term strategy for a long-term goal is the way to go. Short-term strategy are mid-course corrections to enable Mid-term milestones to be achieved, and also to deal with financial emergencies.
Now it seems that America's economy and societal characteristics are not complimenting each other as they once were and in fact, they're distancing themselves from each other. I see the results of the recent elections as a reaction to get into a balance once again - as a taxpayer I look forward to working towards that.