Among the many torturous reasons that Trump supporters give for their ill-considered votes is that, supposedly, only a businessman can steer the mighty ship known as the US economy.
Yes, conservatives will grant you that our two most recent economic surges occurred when a pot-smoking draft dodger and a secret Kenyan communist, respectively, were masquerading as president while secretly plotting to destroy America. But in Republican eyes, the economy would have been even hotter during those time periods if a fine patriotic businessman had been in charge.
In any case, the idea of running government like a business “has been tried again and again, only to fail again and again.”
This is because “business has a convenient bottom line, called ‘profit,’ which can readily be measured.” But “not everything that is profitable is of social value, and not everything of social value is profitable.” In essence, there are many crucial aspects of our society that are for the public good, but that defy easy cost analysis. Things like the military, the police department, fire department, libraries, parks, and public schools “could not exist if they were required to be profitable.”
Furthermore, businesses and corporations “exist for the purpose of maximizing shareholder value — to produce profit and returns on the investments of owners and shareholders. Government in a democracy, by contrast, exists to protect the rights and improve the lives of its citizens.”
So please understand that running the government as if it were a business is a very bad idea, and it is a truly horrible justification for your vote.
Now, even if you find this overarching argument unpersuasive, realize that the last businessman you should put in charge of the nation is Trump. After all, he led a relatively small “family-owned company over which he held total control and operated in secrecy, without oversight or the need to report to shareholders.” That’s certainly not how the presidency works.
In addition, Trump’s myriad failures, bankruptcies, and lawsuits are well known, as are the tales of the stiffed contractors and discontented business partners he left strewn behind him like capitalist debris. Indeed, Trump has been “a walking disaster as a businessman for much of his life” and there is a vast disconnect between the “perception of Mr. Trump as a self-made mogul and the reality of his being a rich kid who lost other people’s money and made far less for himself than he claims.”
However, if you still believe that the government should be the ultimate business operation, and you inexplicably think that Trump is the man to run it, I have good news for you.
You got your wish.
After less than a year in office, we have “a self-absorbed CEO leading the nation through a divisive political era intent on dismantling the very structure of government itself.”
We have an administration that pursues its goals with cutthroat tactics and an almost sociopathic disdain for anyone who gets in the way of perceived success.
We have bureaucrats and middle managers who display a ruthless drive to cut unprofitable lines (even if that line is, say, sick children).
We have a corporate plan where profits go to the top, while the workers settle for scraps.
These aren’t hyperbolic examples. This is indeed how a lot of corporations work.
Now, I didn’t say Trump’s America was a good or efficient company. In fact, it illustrates the very worst of capitalism.
And such a business is, of course, doomed to fail. But don’t worry, because when it all collapses, it won’t be the CEO who suffers.
It will be you.