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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Sadly, the USA is not run like a business.

At American Thinker I started to read an article about the economy. Immediately I was struck by how very wrong it was. The headline asked a question and the answer—according to John Horvat, II—was a resounding NO! We don't want a business model for our country.
With the nation polarized and unable to move forward, many people are suggesting that what our country needs is a business model for governing. Forget about the moral issues. Run the nation like a business and everything will come out all right. Find a candidate who gets things done in business and that person will do the same thing for America, Inc. You can’t argue with success.

Such a pragmatic proposal definitely resonates with those who are fed up with government. People are tired of not getting things done. They don’t like running the country in the red. Getting the country on a spreadsheet is an attractive idea.

The problem is we don’t need a business model for governing. We already have one and it’s not working.
Let me see if I understand—so far—what you are saying John, is that we the people desire something that works. We agree that the nation is polarized and unable to move forward ... and we agree that it's not working. That's about all we agree on. You say that we already have a business model for running the country and it's not working? Well, I hate to Fisk you, John, but if we had a "business model" for our country, then only the owners of the country would vote and everyone else could just shut the f*ck up. Instead, every Tom Dick and Julio—most without a scrap of skin in the game—has the ability via ballot, to change the game every couple of years. I think everyone reading this can agree that if John Doe—who doesn't own a single share of IBM—desired to appoint Silent Bob as Chief Executive Officer of IBM, he wouldn't have a vote. Therefore, right off the bat we have a massive difference in the business model and the American democratic model. Would you agree, John? What other differences can we find in a true business model and our own democracy?

In business, if a company loses money consistently and constantly, it would file for chapter 11 protection and its pieces would be sold off to the highest bidder. But we don't see that happening with the United States Postal Service. In business, if an employee doesn't work, or if his work is haphazard, shoddy, or even diametrically opposed to its originally designed result, an executive within the company would be forced to terminate that employee's relationship with the company. Those of us who pay attention know full well that a government employee—with the exception of those in the military—is automatically granted carte blanche to sneer and even blow snot from one nostril on the shoes of those who pay his salary. Their every interaction with we the people is like that of a monarch being forced to acknowledge a peasant begging for another bowl of gruel. So our American system of representative democracy is not at all a business model.
Our political system has always had something of a business model built into it. We already find in the literature of the Founding Fathers references to the nation as a “commercial republic,” a union of legitimate self-interest, aimed at providing progress, prosperity and security. American political rhetoric is full of economic references that hold progress and prosperity as the height of well-being. Anyone who strays from this narrative is quickly reminded, as was Bill Clinton in 1992, “It’s the economy, stupid!”

If there is an image that corresponds to our political model, think of a thriving farm co-op or public corporation of shareholders. Citizenship is a kind of a co-op membership full of legitimate benefits with distributed risks, voting privileges, few liabilities, and plenty of entertainment. The key to keeping everyone happy is a robust economic order that ensures that members renew their membership with great enthusiasm.

However, this business model for governing depends upon two important pillars. The first is a great consensus to get along and smooth over differences, which is assured by the outward appearance of prosperity and the promise of the American dream.

The second pillar is a vague moral code that ensures some kind of order and serves as the foundation of trust and confidence that allows business to flourish and the rule of law to prevail. As long as these two pillars stand, the system works well.

But when the economic dynamo stalls or sputters over a long period of time, the glue of consensus no longer holds. When the vague moral code falls into decay, trust and rule of law disappear. What we are witnessing today is the breakdown of this cooperative business model.

The problem, John Horvat, II, is not moral codes, nor is it some ephemeral glue of consensus. Neither is it stalling dynamos for that matter!. The problem is that our model of governing—not at all based on any kind of pragmatic system of what works and what doesn't—is fundamentally flawed. It's flawed because people who don't provide anything, who don't produce anything, nor in fact do anything at all ever!, people who hate America with every fiber of their being are allowed to have a say in how this country is run. John, will you at least agree that in the course of normal business the CEO of Burger King doesn't get to vote on who is going to run McDonalds?
That is why everything seems like a free-for-all. Everyone wants to blame the other for the failure of the co-op. Our elections have become like shareholder brawls where the officers are frequently changed. Opinion polls serve as quarterly earnings reports to which all scramble to adapt. Who wins is often the one who promises the most in the least amount of time. Americans are seeing a model that used to work so well now working contrary to their interests by not paying out dividends, but distributing uncertainties that cause anxiety, depression, and stress.

All this is reflected in the latest election cycle as candidates woo shareholders/voters with promises of change and benefits. We are again being subjected to the frenetic intemperance of sound bite politics, pandering to political correctness and media posturing. Like it or not, elections have become business ventures, more often decided not by who is the better candidate, but who can amass the largest war chest, employ the most mega data or engage in social media. Such razzle-dazzle elections are now a strange and superficial ritual that is exhausting the nation.

It’s not enough to run the country like a machine controlled by a spreadsheet. Without a consensus and a moral code, any business model becomes brutal and opportunistic, cold and impersonal, fast and frantic, mechanical and inflexible. Such models, whether industrial or political, all lead to bankruptcy.
Again we agree! We both agree that elections and opinion polls and promises are a big part of the problem, but what we can never Agree on, Mr. Horvat, II, is that consensuses, moral codes, and spreadsheet controlled machines are the real problem. We the people are the problem. Our own frailties, our own petty squabbles, partisanship, bickering, ego, sloth, and greed are why this country doesn't work and in fact can never work. I for one welcome rule by a machine armed with a quiver of spreadsheets. That sounds like something that actually works ... as opposed to about 52% of the USA.

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