By Brian McKay
It has been a frequent admonishment from members of a certain political party, that what is needed is a businessman running the United States. Since the 1990’s candidates with the names of Steve Forbes, Ross Perot, Mitt Romney, Carly Fiorina and now Donald Trump, have been rallied around as having this necessary experience on their resume. Even George W. Bush was hailed as having some of this right stuff even though he was really more in the nepotism business than in the actually-doing-business business.
This year the rally cry is louder. A successful businessman will fix everything, reduce our debt, lower our taxes, forcefully negotiate with China and destroy all while removing 11 million illegal immigrants from our country. Certain voters are desperate for this to be true that they are willing to smooth over the disasters that have been Trump University, Trump Mortgage, multiple bankruptcies and the destruction of the United States Football League (watch the documentary short Small Potatoes on Netflix). Who kills a vibrant, raw, upstart football league just to boost their own ego?
Nope. Not gonna happen.
Let’s start here. The government is not a business and shouldn’t be run like one. If it were, it would be a total disaster. So let’s dispense with all of this silliness right now.
Your government doesn’t have a profit motive; it has a social mandate. Every metric that defines a business as successful, doesn’t apply to government. If you had to attach a measure of return on investment to the military you’d look at its track record since World War Two, then what it costs, end up calling it a horrible investment and scrapping it. Believe it or not, from a revenue perspective, the CEO of the U.S. would actually determine that American’s get a pretty good deal for their tax dollars and raise the rates. Heck, they have a natural monopoly. Why not?
Return on Investment is calculated in ways that business people don’t understand when it comes to government. There is no such thing as a modified internal rate of return (no need read the definition, just know it is a thing that says you’ll make money) when a new budget is approved by the Congress. There can’t be. The best investments that government makes are the ones that protect you, allow you more freedom and help foster a more successful society. These things are measured by long term results and societal advancements; not by whether the project produces $1 more than went into it against the inflation rate.
A fire department is started to protect your property with your tax dollars. If it had to make a profit you could plan on your house burning to the ground if it ever caught fire.
Yes, long term is key too. Business people in today’s U.S. are really in the mindset of short-termism. As the linked story shows, short-termism has become very dangerous as of late and it is not the type of thought you want in your government. Government has to think long term. What is the effect to society ten years from now if policy x is enacted today? So not only is the measure of return not done in money, it is over a long period of time. Is there a CEO left that can think long term?
Modern macroeconomics and the new global playing fields require enhanced soft skills for a country to be successful. As a complete juxtaposition, modern capitalism has become all about capital exploiting labor in order to increase profit margins. Today’s CEO has to reduce employee perks and pay in order to make Wall Street happy. Your government has to help increase people’s skills and employment environment in order to keep America moving forward. If you don’t believe that is one of government’s jobs, then ask yourself, why do people get so pissed at presidents when the unemployment rate is high?
Balanced government budgets are often associated with the CEO president ideal. In reality, a law to require a balanced budget is a horrible idea. One of the most important things government can do in an economic downturn is spend. Increased government spending makes up for reduced consumer and business spending. Also, as tax rolls fall of a cliff in an economic downturn, a requirement of a balanced budget would decimate essential government services that could no longer be afforded. Your Federal government has to be able to deficit spend. No business person has ever dealt with that concept.
Foreign diplomacy requires cooperation. In the business world, cooperation with others is actually illegal. You would consider it a cartel if the all the wireless companies got together and set standard price for your wireless plan. A CEO simply has to win over others in order for a company to be successful. Foreign diplomacy wins when parties are in agreement with each other. Recent talk of “winning” over other countries like they are competitors is extremely disconcerting. The price you pay may go down when companies compete aggressively, but such aggressive competition in foreign diplomacy typically results in this little thing called a “war”.
This list of differences between running a government and running a business could go on and on but the zenruption mandate of short, simple articles would be violated.
The way a businessman thinks is not the kind of thinking you want in the White House. Yes, the American public is sick of politics-as-usual. Yes, the American public wants change. Here is a tip. Pick sensible people instead of looking for a brasDih CEO
Discuss and zenrupt
Featured photo courtesy of Flickr, under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license
Brian McKay is a co-founder of zenruption and has a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Gonzaga University and an MBA from Boise State University. He sees the 2016 election as one of the most important in our lifetimes. He is way, way behind on seasons of TV shows, like The Walking Dead, and expects to never catch up.