It makes sense to a lot of people that during tough economic times we need a leader who “understands making a payroll” and who knows “how to create jobs.” It follows a line of thinking that also states that the Federal Budget is like a “Household Budget” where you can only spend as much as you take in.
Curiously, many of the people using that analogy are up to their ears in credit debt. It has been my experience in life that very few people actually live the way they say the rest of us should live.
I want to take this concept head on, because the criteria above could very well decide the next Presidential election and the course of America and it is wrong….dead wrong.
For the record, does everyone know the history of businessmen as presidents? The only ones have been Herbert Hoover and George W. Bush. How’d those work out?
The reason for the disconnect between the modus operandi of our businessman-presidents and economic policy is because the Federal Government is not a business- it is a government. Nowhere in our Constitution is it outlined or stated that the form of government being created therein is to be run like a business. Nowhere in the Separation of Powers and the Branches of Government does it resemble the paradigm of a business. Nor does the purpose of a business share the responsibilities of representation.
“But Gary, government should be run like a business, that would be a good thing!” is the statement that I just made up so that I could counter the argument.
Let’s look at the two concepts.
The demand on a business is that it produces a profit; that is how it sustains, grows and gives the shareholders their dividends. There is no guarantee that it will be a successful business and fulfill that end into perpetuity and so the responsibility for leadership falls on its CEO and the Board of Directors to make the decisions to realize that goal.
If you were to compare this paradigm to a form of government, it would more closely resemble a Dictatorship; the decisions are made at the top and implemented down the chain of command. Employees (citizens) comply with the rules or lose their jobs.
A Representative Democracy (a Republic) is the form of government outlined by our Constitution and the fundamental objective is not to turn a profit for shareholders but to “represent” its constituency, according to that charter, fairly and evenly, where the quietest, least powerful voices among us are represented as vigorously as anyone else. The authority, therefore, rests in the body of the people as a whole and the leadership pyramid is turned upside down.
This pure concept of our government has been lost in many ways. Admittedly, we have given government too much power of authority by not recognizing the principles upon which we were founded. The “people” in this great democratic experiment have marginalized their own voice by allowing special interests to invade policy; special interests are controlled by money; money corrupts equality; and this eventually leads to a plutocratic system which is anything but a representative democracy.
The business model for government is the wrong concept to correct this course. In fact, it is the concept that we have been evolving toward for decades following neoliberal economic policy since the 70′s, coming to fruition under Reagan and completely realized with the Bush tax cuts in 2001 and 2003 that led to the situation we are now in.
The top of the economic pyramid have increased their holdings by 250% over the past 30 years. The top 1% controls nearly half of America’s wealth. The top 10% control 90%. That is the business-model and it has led to a deep recession where the engine of capitalist prosperity, the Middle Class, has been squeezed into near non-existence, and the pittance of opportunity that remains for the bottom tier is being demonized by the new ruling class as “freeloading.”
If we want to correct the course of representation in America, if we want to strengthen the Middle Class that spends the money that, in turn, grows business, if we want to end a Recession and chart a course for prosperity, the LAST thing we want to do is make America more of a “business” where the only people with the power and the wealth reside at the top.
We have programmed ourselves as a society into believing the wrong concepts. I often hear phrases like, “Let’s put someone in power who….”
No! “Power” is the wrong word! It’s as if there is a collective memory that harkens back to King George when people were subjected to Absolute Rule. The people in “power” are US, but we cannot exercise our power unless we agree on certain principles.
Here’s the good news– the principles are already written down, ratified and sworn to uphold; they exist in our Great Charter of Freedom, and if only everyone could work to understand the tenets that protect freedom of religion, speech, inalienable rights, impartial and egalitarian justice and equal representation, we would begin to chart a new course for better “government.”