Today, our politicians have as much power over us as do our physicians. Maybe even more so. Physicians are required to have advanced degrees in health care and they have to pass examinations before they can practice medicine. Should our politicians be required to have advanced degrees in political science and pass examinations for competency before they can run for office?

When you go to see your physician with a health issue, you expect that person to be knowledgeable about your particular ailment. If she or he is not, you expect an appropriate referral. You expect that your physician has been properly trained and has kept up to date about advances in medicine. Your physician has to have evidence of continued education so that he or she is on top of current medical science. You want to have confidence in their ability to treat you in accordance with current available knowledge and options.

Now what about your governor, president, representative or senator (state and federal)? Many have law degrees; but do you have confidence in their decisions, which they have made because of their education and their vulnerability to be sued if they mess up? Government has, in my lifetime, developed so much more power over my life. I want to have the confidence in those members, as I have in the physicians of my choosing.

Currently, we are in a devastating phase of our federal government’s responsibilities. Most of the decisions made today seem to be on the basis of what will lead to the individual’s reelection. This does not necessarily mean on the basis of what would be beneficial for each citizen or, in the long run, the best for the U.S.

The world today is more complex than several decades ago. Much of this is due to the flattening of our world, enabled first by travel and cyberspace. Conflicts use to arise because of proximity with adjacent cultures. Today, conflicts arise throughout the world because we are in constant contact with cultures and civilizations from everywhere. Conflicts arise for various reasons: Desire, envy, jealousy, religious perceptions, and, yes, hate. Managing a country, such as the U.S., is more complex and demanding than ever before. There is very little time to react in an appropriate manner and one hopes to have confidence in those in power to make appropriate and beneficial decisions for not only the U.S., but also for all human beings. Don’t expect the complexity to lessen.

Eventually our world will become unified under one form of government because of the shrinking of our civilizations. I would expect that form of government will be a democracy. People from other cultures will likely expect some other form; but the current and evolving Arab Spring may well result in the endorsement and spreading of democratic forms of government throughout the world.

Since World War II, the U.S. has been counted on for economic, altruistic and military support. We have shouldered those responsibilities with humility and pride. Along came Sept. 11, 2001, followed by the economic crash in 2008. Our increasing indebtedness required to support our domestic social programs and our military responsibilities around the world finally caught up with us. The wonderful “social” program established by our Congress to make all citizens homeowners, regardless of their financial abilities finally came crashing down upon us. Risky banking behavior developed because the banks perceived that the federal government was eventually underwriting all of those subprime loans. The final log in the government dam broke and the economic downturn was upon us.

Close associations between western countries make each one more vulnerable to the ill thought-out economic policies of the various members: Witness Greece, Portugal, Spain, and possibly Ireland. Those country’s policies were based on giving more opportunities to each of their citizens without consideration for the possible consequences if the financial back-up did not exist. The existence of the European Union today is seriously threatened by these economic catastrophes. Cost benefits have to be evaluated before social steps are taken.

In spite of all this dour economic news and wide-spread unemployment, we continue to be faced with other cultures who would like to see the West returned to what was once considered crude and uneducated civilizations. The Crusades and later wars between eastern and western civilizations drove these schisms further and further apart. This clash of civilizations has made life on our planet infinitely more complex.

Who has sought and been given the role of managing these complex social and political problems? It is those persons that the people of the West have elected into public office. Do we have confidence in those officials whom we elected? That doesn’t mean do we like them. Do we believe that our elected officials have good evidence of solid training in understanding the nature of the problems in our world, and then have the ability to determine the solutions for their resolution?

How and where do our elected officials get the knowledge to assess and manage our local, national, and international problems? In the past, experience was believed to be the best teacher. That was also true in medicine a century ago. But we are beyond that. Today, we would have much more confidence in whom we elect if we could determine that our politicians have begun their careers after achieving recognized academic credentials certifying excellence in the ability to govern. They should be able to demonstrate that they have been schooled in current and evolving methods of evaluation and resolution of political problems, near and afar.

The politician today has as much say about your current and future life as does your physician.