NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- I shouldn't call anyone stupid, especially highly educated, powerful leaders and experts, but...

Let's face it, we have been witness to, victims of, and bewildered observers in a lot of history-making schemes perpetrated by some of the brightest, best educated, most powerful people in the world.

From politicians, business leaders, and hallowed Ivy League graduates have come the most lame, idiotic, stupidest moves to usher in an economic meltdown, uncertainty, and ethical turmoil that rivals Sodom and Gomorrah, the Great Depression, and a host of other tragedies all rolled up in one.

And it all starts out the same way...

"Well, you're the boss."

"Well, you're the expert."

"Well, you know better than me."

All of this

let's ask


or follow


the smart guy

perspective hasn't worked out very well lately. The reality is their thoughts may be worse than yours, especially if


use common sense.

We've outsmarted ourselves these days. We've abdicated horse sense for theoretical discourse, technical and legal perspective. The older I get, the more I realize there's a reason for clichés and proverbs... they're based in truth and withstand the test of time. Consider any/every aspect of the domestic and global financial upheaval and the following prescient common sense insights:

You can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig.

I'm from the government and I'm here to help you.

If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it's a duck.

Don't spend more than you earn.

Don't gamble more than you're willing to lose.

If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.

A contract with a crook isn't worth the paper it's written on.

Do as I say, not as I do.

Never time to do it right, always time to do it over.

Haste makes waste.

I think you get my point. Even our less educated great grand parents seemed to know

a pig in a poke

and whether something was

the real McCoy

or not. But in our advanced degree, continuous learning post World War II generations, we've become too smart for our own britches. We've become soft, complacent, and seemingly entitled to prosperity without risk, credit without obligation, and decisions without consequences.

Perhaps we're just

getting our come-uppins


In all of our sophistication, advanced degrees, and certifications we've learned arrogance, superiority, and a sense of infallibility that has been challenged over the past few years.

Instead of getting innovative, exotic and complex, let's try simple and straightforward.

Let's consider fiscal discipline as a personal, professional and political practice rather than a nice phrase.

Let's consider rewarding performance and allowing failure to teach lessons.

Let's learn to build and preserve wealth not re-distribute it.

Let's revive the spirit of practicality, honesty and the golden rule.

Let's no longer assume the number of letters behind a name, a title, and/or a pedigree means superior intellect or wisdom.

Let's recognize professional advisers (of which I count myself) are more experienced, not necessarily smarter.

Let's affirm the passion and determination of a small business CEO with the same zeal given to

Fortune 100


Let's acknowledge that new isn't necessarily improved, big isn't always better, nor is more regulation always the answer.

Root-cause analysis revisited...

Best practices, six sigma, balanced scorecard, etc., etc. are all in search of formulaic, process driven analytics to smooth out the roughest of operations. There is only one problem -- it doesn't work -- except for those companies where it does. In other words, you probably have a less than 50/50 probability of succeeding by taking someone else's model and trying to lay it on top of your firm's culture, your particular situation, and your company's current growth phase.

The 5 Questions to Simplify and Solve Any Complex Issue:

1. Is it a problem or predicament?

If a pointed, solvable problem, fix it. If an on-going predicament, learn how to deal with it and expect it to show up from time to time

2. Is it a process or people issue?

If process, fix it. If people, learn to handle, fix it, or find replacement talent

3. Is it an aptitude or attitude issue?

If aptitude is the issue, train or find replacement talent. If attitude is the problem, counsel, coach, discipline or find replacement talent

4. Is it a money or time matter?

If money, find some or forget dealing with it. If time, prioritize it in your schedule or forget dealing with it.

5. Is it emotion- or fact-based situation?

Regardless of the nature, accept it and respond accordingly.

In other words: everything can't be dealt with or solved without some common sense definition of the real issue together with a commitment of time, talent and treasure -- or a combination. You need to gauge the consequences of the alternatives you're considering then decide. Don't make things harder than they really are.

We've got some heavy lifting to do.

We're in a real mess that sadly is going to take hard work -- hard, honest, tough, common sense work. Sure hope there's enough people in Washington, on Wall Street, and on Main Street who remember what that is and how to do it.

This commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet guest contributor program. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of TheStreet or its management.