Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Thursday, August 11, 2011 7:51 pm

Why you don’t want to try to run government like a business

Because business people haven’t the first clue what they’re talking about, observes Sir Charles at Cogitamus:

One of the things that has kept occuring to me over the last couple of weeks — and with particular potency on Thursday as the stock market tanked — is the consistent uselessness of the American business community in matters of policy.  Business groups like the Chamber of Commerce continuously push to elect Republicans to office despite the fact that they are committed to harmful cuts in government expenditures, cuts that will ultimately harm the Chamber’s own constituency.  The Wall Street community, which got its collective nose out of joint over the all too tepid criticisms levelled at it by President Obama, helped to elect Republicans so out of touch with financial reality that they allowed the prospect of a governmental default to spook the markets.  All of this despite the fact that historically the economy experiences much greater job growth under Democratic administrations and that the stock market has performed far better under Democratic presidents.

Business leaders could have played a useful role in the recent debates over both the move towards austerity and the debt ceiling.  It would have been extremely helpful to have arguments made for expansionary policies posited by the business community, which rightly or wrongly, continues to have a ready microphone in the mainstream media, particularly on cable television.  They chose instead to sit on the sidelines and let the crazies in the Republican Party have their way.  Only after the fact have they reacted to the bad policy decisions foisted on us by the extreme right, past the point where they could have any positive input in the debate.

To be fair to business, not all business groups are alike. The national Chamber of Commerce, which represents primarily the largest corporations while claiming to speak for all business,  is so insane some local chambers are disassociating themselves from it, while groups such as the National Federation of Independent Businesses, which represent more small and medium-sized businesses, have been more reality-based.

But the poster’s larger point stands: Big Business has supported political candidates whose party’s performance history is objectively inimical to its interests. It has supported politicians who are killing it, not politicians who have helped it. And that, friends, is one good reason not to run government like business.


  1. Except you’re using an absolute term as all “business” but you’re making your argument based on big businesses that are screwing up while small/medium businesses are more “reality based”. I still believe government should be ran like a business, but one that is optimized and functional. There are plenty of screw-ups in the world, just as there are in individuals. But an entity that runs smoothly can move very far just as an entity that wastes can sink into a hole as most governments have.

    The one thing that business has where government does not, is that there is absolutely no pressure on budgets being drawn up by revenue made. Why do I know this? Family works for federal government. If there’s no pressure of budgets being limited by what comes into the coffers, then waste becomes a huge problem. In actuality, if you want to chase low hanging fruit in another post you had for waste, just do everything GAO and the Inspector General’s office actually investigates. GAO/IG have time and again pointed out issues that need to be fixed and agencies just spend the money that they set aside for fixing it by writing reports on how they’re going to fix it (this has been proven through several GAO reports).

    Sorry for the long and run-ons. Tired, and it’s 7AM for someone that works third shift these days. :)

    Comment by Ben Hwang — Friday, August 12, 2011 7:09 am @ 7:09 am

  2. Actually, Ben, I was at least trying to draw a distinction between very large businesses and the rest, but you’re right: The original poster overgeneralizes and I kind of played along. It is a useful distinction to this extent, however: Large corporations account for the overwhelming majority of campaign-finance contributions, and the relationship between that fact and laws and policy that get made is more than coincidental.

    Comment by Lex — Friday, August 12, 2011 8:47 am @ 8:47 am

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