Monday, April 03, 2017

No Place For Amateurs

The Bloviators of the Right have claimed for a long time that government should be run like a business. Donald Trump's son-in-law recently repeated that claim. Government, he said, should be run like "a fine American business." Robin Sears writes that anyone who buys that claim is a dupe:

To anyone who has served in government the reasons why this fantasy always ends in tears are obvious. Politics is a profession, and governing successfully requires years of training. Governing is about choice: hard difficult, unpleasant choices. As several presidents have observed, most recently Barack Obama, if the decision were not risky and dangerous it would not have risen to the president’s desk. CEOs’ decisions rarely carry risks of life and death.

Donald Trump is once again proving that the government/business meme is wrongheaded:

A casino operator can, with relative ease, assess what marketing expenditure and pricing decisions will deliver what revenue and profit. Governments have no such dependable metrics. The variables capable of wrecking a public program are almost endless: foot-dragging bureaucrats, undermining political opponents, less than truthful participants and measurement tools less useful that a wet finger raised to the breeze.

Obama devoted 14 months, hundreds of speeches, thousands of staff hours negotiating — and then most painfully — spending enormous political capital, including the loss of both the House and the Senate, in winning his flawed health care reform bill. He was no Lyndon Johnson in political craft, but neither was he a rank amateur.
Successful community organizing, despite conservative sneers, is a skill set useful in politics. He accepted dilution of his original vision and made payoffs and side-deals to health industry and individual senators to win.

Donald Trump invested a few days of phone calls and cattle-call meetings with several dozen congressional leaders at a time. Neither serious nor professional, and in the end a disastrous blow to his administration’s legislative prospects on anything.

And now we have Kevin O'Leary who -- like Trump -- claims that he will get things done:

Kevin O’Leary is Trump-like, but the parallels are not in shared dubious claims of business genius, but in personality and behaviour. Each is proud of his ignorance of government, and portrays it as an asset. (Imagine your heart surgeon introducing himself, “Hi, my name is George. I used to run a collision repair shop, so fixing human bodies instead of car bodies didn’t seem like such a big leap …) Each has built a career on insult — sometimes useful for an opposition politician, fatal in political deal making.

O'Leary and Trump --- for all their bluster -- are rank amateurs. And politics is no place for amateurs. 

Image: The Huffington Post


Anonymous said...

For a bit of fun - next time you hear someone spout off that government should be run like a business, ask them which kind of business: a mom and pop corner store? Maybe a box-board factory? How about a big chain grocery store, throwing away tons of spoiled food daily, or a massage parlour, a hair-dresser, or perhaps like a bank, bilking their customers for billions of dollars in guaranteed quarterly profits?

- k

Owen Gray said...

Point well taken, k.

Unknown said...

The American government is the government of the American people and the Canadian government is the government of the Canadian people. It is our government, not some rogue entity that dictates to the people what should and shouldn't be done.The kind of government that people want, should be decided by the people, not the other way around.

We have allowed our governments through the years, far to much control over our lives. We need to take our government back.

Owen Gray said...

Exactly, Pam. As Lincoln said, it's about government "of the people, by the people and for the people."

The Mound of Sound said...

Fortunately for Jared Kuchner, his president intends to run the government like he ran his businesses - straight into the ground.

Nobody should be permitted to run for leadership without at least one full term in the legislature. You can be the best surgeon in the country but no one is going to give you command of a submarine.

Owen Gray said...

Even in business, Mound, relevant experience is supposed to count for something. Trump doesn't know what he's doing because he has no experience of how government works.