Publishers note: This is a letter that was sent to President Joe Biden from Stan Fichtman, publisher of Politics Hawaii.com on November 28th, 2022.
Dear President Biden
Over the past few months, departments in the executive branch have ramped up virtual meetings. During these meetings, members of your administration and the bureaucracy who are involved with these departments have done a stellar job trying to relay important information to key constituencies throughout the United States.
For that, I give your administration kudos for making the effort to “keep government business going” in departments that reach out and seek information from a wide variety of sources to advance ideas and concepts.
However, most recently, I noted that some of these virtual meetings are not as effective as they have been in the past. Most recently at one session, it was pined by some that the information that was being given out needed peers to meet face to face to sort it out, as they did in the past at department-run conferences.
Where I am going with this is that it may be time for your administration to work on “bringing back” the ability for face-to-face conferences to be held. There are a couple of key points behind this request that may help you see clearly why this request is being made.
The government has been in the business of being the leader when it comes to all kinds of economic drives. From infrastructure to social issues, it has become in our society that if the government does it, then it must be okay for others too. I cite, here starting and expanding the market for business travel throughout the United States.
Back during the Great Recession of 2009-2011, one thing that I noted as a member of the State of Hawaii Dept. of Labor was that at least once, maybe even twice a year, there was a government-sponsored conference that was called for employees to attend. The bosses would pick the employees to go, we would get our per-diem and tickets, and off we went.
Many times, the conferences were in Washington D.C., but with other sponsors, there would be meetings in Atlanta GA or even Los Angeles. At each of the conferences, members of the presidential administration would be present and information critical to the needs of the programs we were assigned to, was given.
After a little while, maybe a year or so, one thing that I noted is that the amount of business travel started to go up. I noted it with the number of flights that were flying to key destinations throughout the United States from airline hubs that I would fly into. From New Orleans to Minneapolis to Memphis, every morning I would fly into a hub, and I would see folks ready to conduct business flying on these flights.
My observation at the time was that with the government promoting business meetings across its departments, with vested interests attending, that gave the signal to businesses all over that it was time to travel, and therefore the physical interaction of people to conduct business grew. The economy, as you know, grew at the time taking us out of a recession and into a time of economic expansion.
Of course, with the pandemic shutdowns of 2020 to this year, business travel was one of the first practices to be zapped, along with any business meeting that had to do with a face-to-face meeting with any government official. Quite understandable, we were all told to stay at home, do things virtually and conduct business the best they could in that way – from government oversight to purchasing of goods and services.
With the pandemic restrictions just about eliminated, it might be time for your administration to once again get back to setting up meetings and getting the business of government done, again, face to face. This will allow for the resurgence of private corporate travel as it did in 2011-2012 as they are looking to the government to signal its intent on this matter.
2023 could be that year, Mr. President, that the government signals to everyone that it’s good to travel for business, that business must be conducted and that the economy needs to start expanding while growing. One way to combat inflation, Mr. President, is through this.
Thank you for your consideration of this viewpoint.
Stanford J. Fichtman
Citizen of the United States of America
A resident of the State of Hawaii.