Rather than traditional top-down government, today's guest advocates for a bottom-up approach that right sizes the Federal Government’s bureaucracy while re-aligning it with local needs, defined by "we the people".
Rather than traditional top-down government, today's guest (Fred Eberlein) advocates for a bottom-up approach that right sizes the Federal Government’s bureaucracy while re-aligning it with local needs, defined by "we the people".
His book argues that Washington’s complexity and size provide camouflage to a political system corrupted by fundraising-centric politics. With no end in sight to the Federal Government’s chronic inefficiency, his book calls for removing Congress from its control over spending and returning that responsibility to state governments.
Washington will not be fixed by bi-partisanship or budget cuts.
Its reckless spending habits run too deep, as does the need for ever grander political campaigns. A Plan B is needed if the USA we cherish is to endure.
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Brian Nichols 0:01
focusing on winning arguments we're teaching the basic fundamentals of sales and marketing and how we can use them to win in the world of politics teaching you how to meet people where they're at on the issues they care about. Welcome to The Brian Nichols Show. Well, they're both fine and appear on the front Brian Nichols show, get ready to work again 90 degree burn but before we get in there, want to go ahead and purchase thank you for joining us on today's episode of an The Brian Nichols Show I am as always your humble host and today we have a great guest in store for you. But first, let's go ahead and give a shout out to today's sponsor in that is the expat money show head over to the Brian Nichols show.com forward slash expat where you can go ahead and not only check out the expat money Summit, which is gonna be taking place November 7 through November 11. But in the meantime, make sure you go ahead and check out the expat monies podcast because why you want to protect the money you work so hard to earn from the ambulance chasing lawyers, nefarious creditors and greedy on just governments. Please go ahead and join our good buddy in the California because he says I help people just like you to invest internationally secure second passports and residencies, eliminate your tax bill and take advantage of offshore structures so you can travel the world freely and never have to worry about money again. One more time. Brian Nichols show.com, forward slash expat and while you're there, make sure you sign up for the expat money summit podcast or podcast at money Summit. There we go. Taking place November 7 through November 11. It is a virtual summit 50 speakers, five days. And I promise you if you watch for a week, it will leave you laughing all the benefits for a lifetime. So folks with that being said onto today's episode, we have a great guest in store for you. He just wrote a brand new book. And it's taking a brand new approach to the way we deal with the federal government. Fred Eberlein. He's joining us talk about the 90 degree turn. Welcome to The Brian Nichols Show.
Fred Eberlein 2:05
Thank you, Brian. Pleasure to be here.
Brian Nichols 2:07
Fred, absolutely excited to have you on the program. And definitely looking forward to having this conversation to dig deep into this 90 degree turn that you've presented here to the audience in your new book. But before we get there, please do us a favor, introduce yourself to The Brian Nichols Show audience in your world into where you're taking such a sharp 90 degree turn.
Fred Eberlein 2:30
Okay, well, I'm kind of semi retired now I should say I am semi retired, it was 40 years and tech. That's where the story in the book actually starts. When I first go to grad school at American University, and that was a 75 Few years ago. But anyway, 40 years in tech, I live in Europe, currently. American was born in New York. And I observed and sold to the federal government for for some years, both in the US in Washington, I covered the Pentagon, and in Europe. And, you know, it bothered me to see the degree of inefficiency. It's always stayed with me. As I mentioned in the book, I had somewhat of an epiphany a number of years ago after reading startup nation. About You may know that book well. It's a very well regarded book. But anyway, I had a kind of an epiphany at that point that led me to this concept of what I'm calling the 90 degree turn. So it was a great opportunity during the pandemic to focus on that to sit down and write it out. And that's what I did. And I just finished it earlier this year. And it'll be released on July for on Amazon on Kindle and paperback.
Brian Nichols 3:54
That will what let's talk about what a great and here if as soon as I can get my actual screen to work. Here we go. Sorry about that. Right. So let's talk about the actual 90 degree turn. Because what we're discussing here is fundamentally a different way of funding the federal government and you're doing so almost buy in I don't want to spoil the book because folks, please go ahead and make sure you're happy July 4. But uh, let's talk about this idea. And I let's talk about I forget the exact terms you use, but almost like a heat index of what the average sentiment on on the specific issues that your average person is facing, you use Amazon as the example of Amazon can your other customers want? Why can't our government?
Fred Eberlein 4:38
Yeah, well, let's face it, the founding fathers did a brilliant work, but they didn't have the insights and the tools available to them, that we have today. Thomas Jefferson made this point, not long after the Constitution was signed that it wasn't really addressing the future. So we have the tools today. And the idea here is simply it's very fundamental. It's like Let every American directly report their needs. And we aggregate those needs, whether that need is related to clean drinking water, or education or, you know, trash collection or any number of things. It could even be a broader national issue like defense, if you will. But they can articulate that the needs monitor, and that's measured, it's tracked, it's aggregated, and then it's packaged and sent to the federal government, for them to bid on. And the reason we do that is to identify the because we have a massive bureaucracy in Washington, you know, if you add in contractors, over 10 million people, and we have to bear in mind here, Brian, that we spent about $7 trillion a year out of Washington, that's 31% of the GDP. So calls for just Samara for summarily cutting out certain agencies and departments, I think it can be very destructive. So this approach is a filtering. It's what I call a bottom up separation, where we define the needs aggregate the needs are defined by every citizen, you don't have to participate. It's a political, we look at issues, you want clean water, fine. You know, what's the problem today? Do you have any solutions in mind, what have you people write that down, and it gets aggregated, and then the government Washington bids on that, so to speak, and then we can identify what areas of the federal government had the resources that people want. So it has the second key benefit to the needs monitor is what I call a bottom up separation, where we actually filter out the resources, the assets of the federal government, and align them with local needs. So it won't be perfect. It's a philosophy have the site hasn't been developed yet. But it's an outlook for aligning, we do that in business, right? Always want to align with, with your market and your clients. So here, it's the federal government, that really the, you know, the massive bureaucracy they have, they're in a lot of good resources, a lot of redundant resources, a lot of inefficiencies. But we begin to filter it out and find out what people really need. And making that association between local needs, and federal resources, and then re managing or repurposing the rest, the stuff that's not needed. So that's just one idea in the book. Not perfect. It's it's an outlook. It's a framework. But I'm a big believer in iterating, you take an idea like this, and you start working at it and you iterate. But one thing is clear today, and that is we have a big problem in Washington, the spending there is totally out of control. It's totally out of control. I did an analysis. And I think it's probably conservative at this stage. But imagine for every dollar spent by the federal government, we get less than half a penny of value. Okay, that was just, by the way, one metric in that calculation, or one example, I guess, case study would be the healthcare.gov. I mean, here's a website that costs at the time it launched with bugs over $600 million. And as someone in tech who built websites, 10 million, would have been more than enough for that service. Today, the taxpayers probably paid close to $2 billion for that website. It has to be the most expensive in the universe. But we've done that.
And, and I saw that in Washington, you know, there's not a lot of consideration about getting, you know, a good return on investment. It's all about spending the money. And particularly on political matters, like the Affordable Health Care Act, which you know, it's fine. I'm not criticizing that but it's the mechanisms the way government goes about doing these things that are hugely inefficient. I call it the value gap in the book. And if you just I say the value gap is around 99 and a half percent. Now if you look at by comparison, if you were to look at and I mentioned this in the book, referring to this study on an average Ford car, I think it was going back to 2018. And you know cost Ford about $20,000 to build the car that they sold you for 22,000 So you're getting pretty good value I think you get you're getting $20,000 of value on a $22,000 for Just now, of course, the price has gone up a lot since 2018. But be that as it may, that, you know, the argument holds. And here we have a value gap, if you do the math of 9.1%. That's the profit that Ford gets. But you look at the government 99.5% is a value gap. That's what it costs us to get a half a penny, of value. And, you know, so the thing in my view, and I think I outlined the book. It's not really the deficit. I mean, the deficit is a concern, for sure. But the bigger problem is the inefficiencies and reckless behavior. And policies that result from just carefree spending. Iraq as an example of that I mentioned, misguided war. And that's what happens, I think, when you have too much suspend, anxious,
Brian Nichols 11:07
to say the least, we see this, especially over the past, what two years where the federal government and the Fed have all sudden, just ramped up the spending and the printing of money to meet that spending. What like exponentially, I think we just saw the most money printed over the past few years that we've seen in like decades, if you were to combine it. So the fact that we're at that point right now as a nation, and people are waking up to it, and not only to see that yet is an issue, but now they're feeling right, they go to the grocery store, they realize that they're not getting as much in the grocery store cart as they used to, but they also go to the gas station, and all sudden, they're seeing the $5 Plus for a gallon of gas. I'm the big taker in it. It's scary. So let's give them a real tangible solution. And I think that's what you're trying to present here. And let's, if you would, Fred, give us the outline. How does this go from being great idea in your book to actually putting this into action?
Fred Eberlein 12:06
Well, a lot more is needed. Because right now, it's just a blueprint. Brian, it's just an idea. It's, it's a theory. And some don't even like we calling it a theory. So you can call it a concept or an outline. But I don't think it's that difficult. I mean, going forward, it wouldn't be I don't think so difficult, having been in tech and having a secure open source web platform that does what I've said, in so many words, collects the needs, and a sophisticated way, right? And a political way was no field for party affiliation. That's what kills us, by the way, I think as Americans, we cannot have a dialogue about anything substantive. Because it always starts with a D or a P or something next to your name, that, you know, instant label that kills that I want to go back, as I mentioned in the book, was it Izaak? And, you know, come now let us reason together saith the Lord, let us do that is you know, American citizens. Okay, I have a water issue, you have a water issue. You know, what do you think the solution is? Or whatever, that's a dialogue. And that can result in productive things. We'd see that in business all the time and normal interactions, what's you have to do in government? Because parties just killing us?
Brian Nichols 13:29
Yeah. Killing us. And they they continue, they continue the conflict, because once the conflict goes away, and they go away. So yes, your point your I would say one of the biggest hurdles you're going to face? It's those two parties to begin with, because they're not going to want to Oh, yeah,
Fred Eberlein 13:46
problem solved. Now, this is a direct threat to anybody in Congress, in my view. I mean, there, I said a lot about inefficiency. And I'm making many examples of that in the book and bureaucracy, but I don't blame the civil service. As much as I blame members of Congress. Okay, their for their campaigns, taking donations, huge amounts of money. And we know how that works. You know, you take that you pay back the people that got you an office. I give reference in the book to a study done. I think it was in 73 by David Mayhew at Yale, where he recognized the diminishing number of diminishing turnover in Congress. And that's only gotten worse. We don't have competition there. If I'm a big pharma, I'm going to bet first on the winning horse, not on the up and coming prospect. And so money tends to go to the people in power. And those people looking at the bottom line, I would say almost all of them are, you know, doing a terrible job. Do you have a strategic objective from the Treasury saying, you know, back in 2013, about the payments for insurance work? I guess it's what it's unemployment insurance. Excuse me. There, there'll be reporting to Congress that for 14 of the last 17 years, over 10% of that money has been lost mostly to fraud. And for Congress to do nothing about that, to me is just your finish, guys. You know, and of course, we see it today, how much of the cares money in the light has fallen? You know, in that same category has gone to fraudsters, many of them outside America, by the way, it's not even our fraudsters. It's probably more like Russian. And, you know, fraudsters. So to see that happening. I mean, it'd be like being on a ship, Brian, and they say, oh, everyone knows about the leak, but the captain won't admit it, you know, as the ship slave. So we have a similar thing in Congress. And I just, I just, you know, it's unacceptable in my view. And you know, the arguments are there and the data. Yes. So, let's Well, let's talk about my Okay, go ahead. Sorry.
Brian Nichols 16:25
No, I was more so gonna ask because I think this is sounds like a good next step for like a logical conclusion for how we can take from where we are, to where we can go like, what's the next possible future? Right. And one of the things that I think we see, especially right now, in the era of COVID, I think COVID really helped people reframe the way they approach issues is that you want to have more of a autonomous locality, a state of your locality, your your Township, your village, your city, wherever, maybe, because then you're not impacted by the very top of the food chain every single election by every single policy. And if you change the mechanism by which you're funding those policies, inevitably, it should change the policies themselves. So let's talk about the means to actually get you know, I know we talked about the the heat map, if you will, that the means of figuring out what the average person wants, but how do we actually get it to moving to a means where you're actually having dollars follow these, these pain points from the state and localities but also leveraging the federal government. And you mentioned the areas that it does have the the budget, the areas that it can help where states haven't had the chance to maybe pick up the the pieces budgetarily speaking. So talk to us about what how that would look?
Fred Eberlein 17:49
Yeah, well, please interrupt if I'm not answering your question, because can be a bit tricky. But fundamentally, the way I see this, again, is at a local level, we're organizing requirements based on needs from everyday citizens. And then those are packaged into a request for proposals that go to Washington. So it's not Washington, which is typically the case producing it, and sending out for bid, it's the other way around. And the reason for that, again, is for filtering this bottom up separation for filtering out what's needed and what's not. You'll find when you do that, I'll be willing to bet a lot of redundancy. In my days in Washington, I saw a great deal of redundancy, even with contractors doing the same work as their shadow, you know, and this wasn't the kind of redundancy that you really need. Sometimes you do need it was particularly secure matters, you know, in managing nuclear spent fuel and things like this. But no, this was just for the sake of spending money. That's what Washington's about. And the problem is that our politicians, and the real epicenter of the whole problem is, at least in my view, and as I described in the book, fundraising centric politics. That's what kills it all. And that my view, the complexity, and the size, and the unwillingness and the bulk of government are all camouflage, their layering of sorts, and we would use that term and money laundering, but they're camouflage to Congress. And I'm, it's much easier for me to strike a deal with DoD on a contract for Grumman or whomever. You know, in today's environment, nobody needs to know about that. It's, you know, slid in on some bills somewhere. And now, you know, I've just paid my debt back for getting reelected and so on and so forth. So, I mean, when we see two thirds of Congress, two thirds taking donations from pharma. That was the last election, two thirds. This is not a Republican Democrats, you know, almost everybody I mean, that's a that's a supermajority, I think, isn't it? 2.6 billion, I think, invested by banks. So, you know, this is the problem. And I understand it's a human problem. It's not democratic Republicans human problem, money is a huge bias or creates one. I like money, you like money? You know, you pay people and you condition them. So I think what has to happen here, Brian, I'm not really answer your question. But I think what has to happen here is we do need to have, we still have a Congress, we still have elected officials, we need them to go, like, I don't know, maybe some future movements went and say, No, we're not going to do this like this any longer. We're going to become facilitators. So the idea with Congress is that they facilitate those local needs. They're part of it. They know that, oh, I'm from Flint, Michigan, we got a lead problem. I'm going to work with Mike constituency's and Washington to find the best resources for them right, directly. The other thing that Congress should do is simplify law. You know, Library of Congress doesn't even know how many laws we have.
Brian Nichols 21:14
Okay, that's terrifying.
Fred Eberlein 21:17
It is. It's true. So this is part of the age, you know, I say the age complexity, size, and politics, fundraising centric politics, is what kills all of those things. Collectively, they kill things, but the politics is the worst part of it. So same with tax code 14%, Brian, of what we collect is for tax preparation. That's ridiculous. That's $1,100 per tax return, per American per year $1,100. Here in Europe, I mentioned that when I was in Europe earlier, we need to have a ready return that cost pennies. For the tax payer, it's prepared for them, by the government's usually one or two pages, you accept you go on or you dispute. So and this problem, the complexity of tax code, has been reported to Congress over and over again, they have hearings, they have meetings, it's just a charade. They're not doing a damn thing about it. And that's a huge costs people. So in the book, I'm suggesting Congress, we start a congress, you've proven yourself completely incapable of managing money effectively. So we're going to take that away. Because it you to a point a really, are being dangerous. So you know, the states, some of them are not more efficient, frankly, than the federal government. But they're smaller, and the damage is localized, not national. So and by the way, the alignment is about aligning with everybody. So if I'm from New York, I want to know what people are saying I should be on top of those metrics, and understanding what the issues are and who in Washington is addressing that. So it's, you know, it's a much clearer connection between needs and resources. And that at the end of the day, Brian brings value. And that's what I believe we ultimately need to do is return value to government. I don't expect the same level of value that I would get in private industry, but maybe half as much value.
Brian Nichols 23:39
Please, something better. That's all we're asking is a step in the right direction, right? Yeah. Well, yeah, obviously, this is a great chance for us to reexamine the problems we see as it pertains to Yes, the the Leviathan that is the federal government and the the funding mechanisms that we have in place, the 90 degree turn, it definitely will be and could be, what a great chance to reexamine things. So if you want to go ahead and pick up your copy, July 4, Independence Day is where folks can go ahead. And when folks can go ahead and grab it. Fred, where can they? where can folks go ahead and wrap it up?
Fred Eberlein 24:12
It's on Amazon, Amazon just got to Amazon, the 90 degree turn will have an Kindle and paperback. Perfect. So paperback. Okay, yeah, I leave my email at the end because I really like to hear from people and to the best extent possible build on this. It would be cool to your question, Brian to actually go forward and prototype. Yeah, something like the needs monitor. So you maybe maybe we can do something on that. Absolutely.
Brian Nichols 24:46
What what was the best way to contact you said you had an email there. Where Can folks reach out?
Fred Eberlein 24:52
Well, yeah, they can. They can reach me the name we see here at JB Fred dot Eberlein at Gmail dot com, JB Fred dot Everland. And I put that in the book. And I don't have a website yet. But you know, if it makes sense, we'll certainly build one in due course and, and iterate through this process. You know, it's not perfect. But I think anything that can help streamline Washington will get us on a better course. And see, by the way, when you streamline in this way, and you take the money out of Congress, it just puts a huge hole in fundraising centric politics. So all the sudden bankers and farmers in the like, don't have the clear path they have today between money and rewards. So we, we disrupt that system. It's never going to be perfect. It's never going to be perfect. Maybe there comes a time 50 years where we have to go back to more of a central government. But we're, you know, we're 50 states and we can be lean and decentralized. And that's what I'm advocating so. Well,
Brian Nichols 26:00
there you go, folks, here's your call to action, head to the Brian Nichols show.com, where you can find today's episode plus, you will find all the links mentioned here in the episode by the way, folks, you'd like the shirt I'm wearing. It's hard to see I know here. I'm gonna make my screen big one time here. It's our stop trusting government bureaucrats. I thought it was a topical for today's episode, folks, you can head over to the Brian Nichols show.com forward slash shop and you can pick up your copy I'll share right here on the screen for our YouTube watcher. Yes, you can go ahead and check out our shirts here over at proud libertarian, you can find this plus we have a bunch of other great, great swag over there for folks. But make sure you use code TBS at checkout, and you'll get I think it's 5% off 15% I forget go ahead and use the code and you'll find out it's a surprise. How about that. Although that being said, Fred, any final thoughts here for the audience today?
Fred Eberlein 26:54
Buy the book read it. Give me your feedback. Tell me what you liked. Tell me what stinks there sucks or I say that on there, of course. But I am a bit I am a believer in dialogue. And in the beginning of the book, I give a mention of my father and he was he's no longer with us. But he was the one who taught me which is proven to be a great thing in business and life how to how to have a conversation. Amen. I want let's get America back to having a conversation about our local needs. Boy, we'd be so much better off if we can get away from all this crap that has caused so much division and hate. Amen. I want love, love and value.
Brian Nichols 27:43
Let's get there Yeah, I think the more the more we can get things focused on the issues that truly matter and that is the issues that are impacting us in our surrounding environment every single day. I use the example back with the the peak of the pandemic I was pretty darn upset when I would look outside and see when I was in Philadelphia pa that my garbage wasn't picked up for six weeks in a row and as I watched the piles of garbage just grow and grow and grow and that was doing to my city government not due to the federal government error and you see this that's just one silly example of me being you know peeved off because of a dirty garbage outside. But you know, this is this is justified. It is exactly yeah, and it's in so many different other areas too Fred and I think that's where folks are definitely waking up. So folks if you have enjoyed today's episode I'm gonna ask you to do me two things number one, please go ahead and give the book a copy of the book purchase over at Amazon it's available July 4 link in the show notes and then number two if you enjoyed today's episode please go ahead and give it a share and when you do please go ahead and give yours truly a tag as well at the Nichols Liberty ENDA folks with that being said that's all we have for you today by the way did you check out yesterday's episode If not, we'll please make sure you head over there I'm gonna include it right here below because I'm going to show you how you can get paid in crypto that's right if you have an employer you can get them to pay you directly in crypto want to find out our good friend Paul Bradley from get hedge i o joined us to discuss that. So again, I'll include that video right here below. And otherwise, if you're here on the audio version of the program, surprise, we have a YouTube, make sure you head over to the Brian Nichols show.com where you can find today's episode and you can also find the YouTube version of the program. Give it a subscribe and make sure you do that hit that little notification bell so you're not missing a single time we go live but with that being said, it's Brian Nichols signing off. You're on The Brian Nichols Show for Fred Eberlein the 90 degree turn. We'll see you tomorrow for listening to The Brian Nichols Show. Find more episodes at the Brian Nichols show.com
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
After earning an undergraduate degree in Political Science in 1975, Eberlein went to Washington in search of a master's and a future in foreign service. But instead of entering the government, he became a "beltway bandit" – a salesman of computer services and software to Washington’s expansive bureaucracy.
In 1991, his journey went global when he moved to Germany. There he worked with the U.S. Army Europe as it right-sized in the wake of the USSR’s collapse. Later, the author moved to Vienna where he led enterprise sales for Oracle in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary, before joining Sweden’s Scala Business Solutions and moving to Budapest.
An entrepreneur and self-described nobody, the author's firsthand experience of the corruption that has fueled the U.S. Federal Government's decline makes this book – his first – essential reading for anyone who wants to break from the noise of politics and return to the business of America.
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