Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Only business is business

It’s common wisdom that a business background is a necessity in a presidential candidate. Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, politicians Gerald Ford and Richard Nixon, and even the hero of Republicanism, actor Ronald Reagan, would have been disqualified by such a requirement. Even so, the assumption of the value of business experience persists. 

Governing is not the same as running a business. A good business decision might allow General Motors or Chrysler to go bankrupt, but a mayor or president has to pick up the pieces of the millions of lives trashed by such events. Chartering a business in Luxemburg and sending jobs to China might be a shrewd business decision, but it’s questionable public policy.

In the last 20 national elections, only two presidents had business experience, Herbert Hoover and George W. Bush. Despite their business acumen, both ushered in economic catastrophes. Politicians Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson instituted Social Security and Medicare, which backstop individuals while sustaining the entire economy.

Community organizer Barack Obama took bold action to save the world’s economy, a result largely unacknowledged publically by today’s business community.

History, not common wisdom, teaches that successful presidents concern themselves with spending and policies that ensure the health, safety and welfare of all citizens. They act to sustain the strong middle class that’s responsible for American economic power.

Choosing a president with these skills rather than business experience is also, ironically, a good business decision.

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