Is It a US President’s Role to Be a Friend of Business?

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Most Qualified Candidate to Be President

Relatively recently in our nation’s history the electorate has been presented with the proposition that the most qualified candidate to be President of the United States should have a business background.

How’s that worked out?

George W. Bush had an M.B.A. from Harvard and made his money on a sweetheart baseball deal. He presided over the worst equities markets, the destruction of the housing industry and the loss of millions of jobs, in short, the worst economic era since the Great Depression. He also initialed two unfunded wars and signed a new prescription drug entitlement that was neither financed by revenue nor negotiated aggressively with the drug providers.

Maintaining The Status Quo

What George learned in business school was that the game is rigged in favor of the rich. In business, one succeeds by maintaining the status quo, keeping your wealthy friends advantaged and suppressing competition. There is nothing remotely democratic about the capitalistic model. Historically it has been the role of government to be a countervailing weight against the authoritarian designs of big business and the influence of the wealthy.

W’s father studied economics at Yale and continued the business-friendly policies of the Reagan administration to disastrous results.

Before him, Hoover was trained as a mining engineer and it took 14 years and a world war to dig out from his tight-money, protectionist, business-friendly policies. Nixon and Ford were both practicing lawyers before they escaped to politics through the largess of business interests.

What were the educational backgrounds of presidents that presided over the best economies in our history?

Franklin Roosevelt and John Kennedy had arts degrees, were traitors to their class, extremely rich career government men who administered periods of expanding rights and enhanced wealth of the lower classes. Truman was an unsuccessful law candidate and a dry goods salesman. Johnson was a schoolteacher. Reagan was an actor. Clinton was a lawyer, but a career government man. None were businessmen.

Eisenhower and Carter were military men not beholding to business. One was lucky to govern during a growing economy; one was not.

Staying Ahead of the Game

My conclusion is that business is at its best when its opposition is strong. It took the competition of the Japanese to force the American auto industry to do better. Boeing is better because of Airbus. Apple must constantly innovate to stay ahead of Samsung, SONY and Microsoft. When businesses seek to defeat competition by creating laws or deriving subsidies in their favor by electing presidents who do their bidding, they get soft, they get reckless and they win too easily until they lose big.

I’m an M.B.A. and a devout capitalist. We have our role. We are the economic fighters in society. I know us. Without a strong referee, many of us would cheat to win. Without a strong manager, we would blow our earnings on worthless baubles, fast women and slow ponies.

It’s Not a President’s Role to Be a Friend of Business

It’s not a president’s role to be a friend of business; it’s a president’s role to keep American business in-line and razor-sharp. A tough, smart college professor has a lot of those qualities.