The nature of the ministries has evolved from royal administration over centuries. The democracies have simply adopted this classification at the highest level of government. Their classic functions are police and justice, finance, warfare and foreign affairs. The cabinet structures handed down from the old days are no longer up to date. Their classic functions are geared towards monitoring citizens, rather than providing services to citizens.
Ultimately, it is about the exercise of rule and power, often still according to the principles of Niccoló Machiavelli (with his famous work “Il Principe” published in 1532 “Everything is permitted” without scruples) or Max Weber (soberly “Power is the chance to enforce one’s own will against resistance within a social relationship”). The naked pursuit of absolute power without restrictions does not only exist in Netflix series (in “House of Cards” with the power-obsessed Congressman Francis Underwood), but can also be encountered in democratic institutions. The smell of the pure exercise of power still wafts through the corridors of power today.
From a new perspective, we can see things differently in the modern world: the powerful are our political service providers. Like Amazon, for example, which delivers what I want in an uncomplicated, fast and inexpensive way to wherever it is needed. Or an internet provider, Uber and Airbnb. The powerful must provide me with security, work and freedom. But please not as state mercy or alms, but with a lot of freedom and help where necessary. Power should make humanity and effectiveness possible. Not a power play with intrigues and vanities, but sober service for the people. Less Machiavelli and more Jeff Bezos. Top performance for us citizens, instead of surveillance.
The old structures, however, have largely remained stuck in the old power-related thinking. They control and dominate us. Restrict us. Harass us daily with bureaucratic requirements, permits, slow work. In the new age of globalization, they seem crusted and outdated. They do not deliver what we need quickly and cost-effectively.
The political organizations must therefore be improved. Moreover, the often confusingly large ministries are far too cumbersomely and inflexible. They are self-centered and their output appears moderate, especially with regard to their many employees and the budget. They need to be adapted to the new challenges of a future-oriented and more effective 21st century policy.
For modern politics, we need new, more energetic and efficient cabinet structures.
A role model: until 1970 there was not a single environmental minister in the world. The first one was appointed in the Free State of Bavaria by CSU Minister President Alfons Goppel. In 1986 the first Federal Environmental Minister followed, appointed by Chancellor Helmut Kohl.
Why do we need new ministers today for the most important tasks for the future?
We must enrich cabinets with innovative and efficient ministers and thus make them fit for the future. Nine new ministers would also significantly increase the weight of social issues in the government. Both in terms of the number of ministers involved as well as more attention and better publicity. This would allow stabilising harmonious cooperation, the social market economy and our democracy.
If there is no responsible strong person at the top cabinet level, all other ministers frequently tend to assume minimum responsibilities and, in the end, nobody is responsible for successes or failures. Moreover, the issue may only be one of several in the ministry and may not be considered so important at the department level. The result: The issue is merely managed, instead of being actively shaped.
A new minister would focus on the issue of the future, giving it a face and political weight, raising money and networking it with administrations, parliaments and the public. He or she has more time for discussion and reflection thereby embracing the model of the environment ministers.
Why not more small speedboats instead of big steamers?
It would seem sensible to set up a medium-sized ministry for each of the important priorities of future policy.
These new ministries should also be staffed with young politicians. This would bring fresh thinking and openness into the cabinet.
With an initial average annual budget of around $ 500 million (depending on the size of the overall budget of the state) and a staff of 200, the new ministry would immediately be given sufficient room for maneuvers. The popular alibi of special representatives or ministers of state with too few staff and little money must be avoided.
Financial resources and staff would be withdrawn from the large ministries. No additional funds are needed.
Do we create more bureaucracy? No, because all employees are seconded from existing authorities. In addition, the simultaneous introduction of e-government, following the Estonian model, would save many thousands of jobs and mil- lions in financial resources. We would be shifting towards more creativity and effectiveness.
Which ministers do we need to tackle today’s problems?
Nine new ministers should give momentum to their issues at the top level:
Minister for Tolerance
We have already dealt with the great importance of tolerance in society in the chapter about Humanity. We need much more money for an active policy against intolerance and an active Minister for Tolerance who will finally give the issue weight and prominence in the Cabinet.
One of the state’s main objectives is to promote good relations between citizens. In addition, protection against extremism of all kinds, whether Islamist, right-wing or left-wing extremism.
To date, different ministers have always been responsible only for certain areas: The job of the Minister of the Interior and the police is combating extremism. The Minister also monitors and controls the entry of foreign citizens. The Minister of Justice (in the U.S. called Attorney General) does not intervene with the public prosecutors until an offence has been committed. The Minister of Education supervises language and occupational training and is thus part of the integration pro- cess. The Minister of Integration is only responsible for foreign citizens, but not for radical citizens and grown political extremists, such as right-wing racists or left-wing radicals.
This vacuum must be filled by a preventive, comprehensive strategy on tolerance with a new Minister of Tolerance.
Today too many individuals still naively believe that tolerance is the state of nature. However, just like a well-tended lawn, we must actively strive for mutual respect every day. We need a minister who is responsible for the raw material of good relations in the cabinet, vis-à-vis parliament and the public and who deals exclusively with this topic.
What does a Minister of Tolerance do?
He or she coordinates strategy in the cabinet, just like an environmental minister.
A Minister for Tolerance must use a wide range of programmes to promote tolerance among citizens and must curb all forms of intolerance. Against all enemies of tolerance: an- ti-Semites, Islamists, right-wing and left-wing radicals.
The minister analyses and promotes respect and good relations between local majorities as well as ethnic, social and religious minorities. Targeted programmes are designed to help curb radicals of all kinds.
The Minister of Tolerance is the contact person for religious communities and organisations.
He or she is the highly visible public face of tolerance policy. The Minister draws up a “National Agenda for Tolerance” in cooperation with the religious communities, associations and initiatives.
Once a year he or she submits a National Tolerance Report to parliament providing weight to the subject.
Each country should now appoint a Minister for Tolerance and address this issue more seriously and systematically.
Minister for Happiness
The thinking behind a Minister for Happiness is already more than 240 years old. Inspired by the English freedom philosopher John Locke, “the pursuit of happiness” was included in the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America on July 4, 1776. The state must respect the individual desire of its citi- zens for their kind of happiness and promote their free development. Most Americans understand this text as the free- dom to go their own way, rather than as a mandate for the state to actively make its citizens happier.
Happiness is an emotion, a feeling coming from the heart.
The small Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan in the Himalayas integrated spirituality and compassion into the work of the government as early as its foundation in 1907.59
After his coronation on 6 November 2008, the 5th Dra- gon King issued a more just and harmonious society as a stag- gered goal.
“Our country belongs to the stream of civilisation where the explicit purpose of government is to create conditions in which citizens can pursue their happiness.
The country measures the happiness of its citizens in a re- gular “Gross National Happiness Index”. This includes nine measures of the happiness of the people:
- Standard of living (income, financial security, housing, assets)
- Health (physical and mental)
- Education (knowledge, values, skills)
- Good governance (how people perceive the functions ofgovernment)
- Ecology, diversity and resilience (the way people perceive the environment)
- Use of time (how much time for work, freedom, sleep, work-life balance)
- Psychological well-being (quality of life, satisfaction)
- Cultural diversity (strength of cultural traditions)
- Vitality of communities (relations and interactions, social cohesion and volunteering)
Bhutan understands “happiness” as satisfaction in many political fields. I am convinced by this new approach. It forces the government to conduct a broad analysis, regardless of the daily topics. Moreover, the happiness indicator is a clinical thermometer for emerging dissatisfaction and dangers. Today’s opinion polls “How satisfied are you with the government’s work?” are superficial, by contrast.
In the United Arab Emirates, a young woman, Ohood Al Roumi, was appointed the first Minister of State for Happiness on February 10, 2016. Her mission is to make the country one of the five states with the happiest people by 2021. Her aim is to actively shape a government, administration and society with more happiness and positive thinking. “What is the task of a government if it does not work for the happiness of the people?”, she asks. The government must do for its citizens what they need to be happy. It includes good education, security, jobs, medical care, infrastructure. “Happiness is not a luxury for citizens, but a fundamental human goal,” she says.
Al Roumi launched a survey on employee satisfaction in her company and a National Happiness Report. In a “Happiness Meter”, citizens with Smilies (smile, neutral, bad) can use their fingers to indicate their satisfaction with officials. Pupils, students and teachers start “100 Days of Positive Thinking” once a year. At schools and universities there are “CEOs for Happiness and Positivity”. The Minister of Happiness has networked with the “Haas School of Business” and “Greater Good Science Center” at the University of California Berkeley, the “Mindfulness Center” at the University of Oxford and the “What Works Center for Wellbeing” in London and trains their happiness CEOs there. The Emirates are taking a creative approach to the future in this field.
Since 2012, the annual World Happiness Report has been analysing subjective well-being in 156 countries, collectively referred to as “happiness”.“Happiness is now of interest because it can be better measured and influenced today,” explains Jeffrey Sachs, co-author and director at the Earth Institute of Columbia University in New York. The happiest countries in 2020 are Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden, New Zealand and Austria. Germany is only in 17th place, followed by the United States of America. Why not learn from the happiest countries and copy their Golden Happiness Nuggets?
A Minister of Happiness has an important function in the government. He or she observes pressing citizens’ concerns and what needs to be changed in the various policy areas. After all, good politics is about making people happy and satisfied. Good politics with heart and mind. That is also the basis for political stability. With the help of opinion polls, it examines what citizens want, the basis for well-being, harmony and inner peace.
Although the appointment of a Minister for Happiness may seem incomprehensible at first, this ministry is highly political and important. No state is stable unless the majority of its citizens are satisfied. Otherwise, disintegration and revolution would be the consequences. The Minister of Happiness ensures the ability to take sufficient account of people’s private happiness thus ruling out authoritarian tendencies of rising above its own citizens. Every country should therefore appoint a Minister for Happiness.
Once a year he or she should present a National Happiness Report. Then high-level in the government and parliament must deliberate on how they can improve the lives of their citizens.
Minister for the Future and Creativity
Long-term planning and global trends must be better integrated into policy work. This would avoid both deficient and costly planning and increase effectiveness. The Corona crisis underscored how many lives and billions of our taxpayers’ money were lost by inadequate and uncreative political planing without taking practical precautions.
A minister for the future coordinates long-term planning in the cabinet and parliament as well as with the public. He or she presents an “Annual Future Report”. In each ministry, he or she is assisted by a Future Planning Department.
In addition, the Minister is as well responsible for develo- ping creativity. The indispensable catalyst for good policy and golden fuel for a successful Mission Future.
The Minister would also be responsible for demographic issues as well as modern data use and protection. Once a year, in cooperation with the national statistical authority under his authority, the minister would present the “Future Population Development Plan”.
Minister for Home
Most policymakers have forgotten the tremendous importance of home for many people in a cold, anonymous and globalised world. To them, this term seems too homespun and conservative.
The urban elites have more or less forgotten the rural areas with their people, villages and small towns. The metropolitan elites’ view is strongly urban-centric. Consequently, their political ideas do not correspond with local and regional identities of people living in rural areas.
The emphasis on home as well as local and regional identities constitute the necessary balance to globalisation. Without this emotional anchor, many people simply feel homeless and lost.
Therefore, a Minister for Home should be appointed. He or she will only deal with regional issues without the pretensions and ignorance of urban blinders. He or she would also develop concepts for a greater sense of home in the city.
The Minister of Home is responsible for development of rural areas and designs support programmes to protect the homeland, the basis of most people’s lives.
Minister for Digitisation and Artificial Intelligence
No industrialised country can maintain its competitiveness in the Fourth Industrial Revolution without widespread digitisation.
The appointment of an assertive and strong minister for artificial intelligence and digitisation is therefore essential. He or she should be provided with a sufficient staff of more than 200 employees and a large budget.
The Minister for Digitalisation and Artificial Intelligence focuses on the important areas of artificial intelligence, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, 5/6G and the impact on global competitiveness and employment. A distribution of digital responsibilities among different ministries would pre- vent a clear focus on these particularly important.
Minister for Children and Youth
Many countries combine the responsibility for children and youth in one large ministry with other areas such as family and senior citizens. The result is all sorts of things and, as a result, arbitrariness. This makes little sense because the problems and expectations are different. Therefore, these different groups are better addressed separately and creatively by smaller and more agile ministries. The specialist ministers give them more weight in the cabinet than just one minister for all issues. This allows Policy 4.0 to be more socially oriented, enabling better planning and implementation as well.
A special Minister for Children and Youth should focus on these two crucial core groups. More protection for children is required. They are our rough diamonds needing targeted and comprehensive promotion. An “Annual Report on Children and Young People” would document the plans and progress made in the areas of education, studies and career.
Minister for Families
A minister responsible only for families gives this social issue the importance it deserves. This includes the rising group of single mothers – my silent heroes of today.
Minister for Senior Citizens
How do we treat the people who have raised us with much effort and privation so that they can be happy in old age?
Often the so-called “senior citizens” – that is our parents and grandparents – appear as the forgotten population group. They lack a powerful lobby – we have to change it now. In the Corona crisis, seniors in nursing homes and old age homes were not protected enough. In the Corona crisis the necessary and feasible protection of the elderly and nursing homes was mostly missing because the seniors did not speak up and demanded help like other pressure groups or big business. There died by the thousands. How ungrateful and immoral, because they built our states with their work.
Old-age poverty and insufficient pensions are a social disgrace. Unfortunately, a lack of health care and attention are not uncommon.
Many older single women in particular complain of loneliness. In the West elderly are deported to old people’s homes, unthinkable in India or Africa. Is that Western humanity? Multi-generation houses could help – but who builds them?
Digital communication can improve social networking – who helps? Important problems hardly anyone talks about. The many local shopping aids for corona-isolated senior citizens were exemplary – a hope for improvement. More togetherness instead of isolation is called for.
We keep wasting the golden knowledge and wisdom of our parents as well. Henry Kissinger once said about our common mentor Dr. Fritz Kraemer: “He is a badly used Rolls-Royce”. He is right. How stupid are we actually? It reminds me of someone who throws his computer in the trash bin with Bitcoins for millions.
All older people feature a lot of experience from over 60 years of life. We make too little use of their knowledge. How stupid. Let us think of Queen Elizabeth II, how good it was that as a young queen the old warhorse Winston Churchill helped her and gave her direction. How fitting that she supported the inexperienced Boris Johnson and gives him support in the crisis. The dynamic youth always needs the balance through experience. Both promise success and a good future.
We should therefore launch massive mentoring programmes. Transfer knowledge more effectively from senior to young citizens. This is something we should practice at home and abroad and thus improve the world. Experienced seniors are respected because they are needed. They retain their importance in society, are more fulfilled and happier. It keeps them young. It benefits everyone when we are able to rely on their experience.
A special Minister for Senior Citizens should promote this important group in the cabinet and at the same time make use of their knowledge. His or her job lies in representing their interests and developing extensive mentoring programmes.
Minister for Migration and Integration
In states with a large number of foreign citizens, refugees and asylum seekers, a Minister for Migration and Integration in the cabinet should have coordinating responsibility. Competencies are often scattered and there is no clear line of responsibility. We need a humanitarian migration policy.