How to Fix Dysfunctional Washington: Voter Checklist

The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage.

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Washington is dysfunctional because it's teeming with unqualified political leaders. It's not the voters' fault. Without job specifications that voters can cross-check, politicians are being selected based on some type of appeal. Maybe it's stated positions, records, party, alma mater or something else appealing.

If instead voters evaluated hard skills (knowledge skills) and soft skills (behavioral skills), they would elect leaders who can fix the economy and keep it healthy. Here's a quick list of what to look for in next year's presidential elections.

Hard Skills

Economics. Political leaders need to know:

The costs and benefits of taxes. If a candidate thinks that taxes are the solution to government excess, wonder if they also think that scotch is a cure for alcoholism.

The costs and benefits of regulations. If a candidate talks about regulations to solve a problem, be suspicious. They may be punishing the nation for a few bad apples, or trying to legislate a personal point of view.

How the public and private sectors complement one another to maximize wealth creation. Candidates that talk about punishing business are as dangerous as employees sabotaging their employers.

The importance of the private and public sectors sticking to their respective knitting. When candidates talk about government solutions to private sector problems, think Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The limits of the Fed and monetary policy. If a candidate thinks the Fed has all the answers they are literally passing the buck.

Budgeting. How credits and debits are created and the implications of debits exceeding credits. The simple rule is forget the big spender candidates, they only know how to operate in the red.

International Trade/Relations. If a candidate is rallying against international trade as a job stealer, they have probably bought a Brooklyn Bridge or two.

They also need to know a few essentials of American history including, the roles played by democracy, capitalism, the military and American culture in the nation's success.

Knowledge of political, economic and social systems around the world is key. If a candidate thinks the EU is the United States of Europe, place an X through their name. If a candidate thinks democratic elections are a panacea to poverty and repression, they probably also believe in the tooth fairy.

Military. Comprehends how security threats changed after the Cold War and that U.S. military firepower is nearly as great as the rest of the world's combined.

What 'hard skills' are most important for the next U.S. president?

International Trade/Relations

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