Now I’ve got to clear up one the stupidest things I hear every time someone starts running for president: We need someone with business experience.
What a load of crap that is.
I’ll set aside the fact that Romney’s “business” experience was in the line of manipulating massive sums of cash as well as massaging paper to open, close and remodel real businesses, resulting in the loss of a lot of jobs. In case you’ve forgotten, that’s the kind of “business” that caused the financial quagmire we can’t drag ourselves out of.
Most importantly, government is NOT a business, and it cannot be run like a business. The government is essentially a giant co-op whose sole purpose is to serve and benefit co-op members, and they would be us. A business is an entity whose sole purpose is to make more money than it spends, and turn that money over to one or more owners. Big, big difference.
Big businesses are like big governments in that they spend a lot of money, involve a lot of people, and benefit greatly when they are most efficient. That’s it.
So when candidates for president, or any other office for that matter, start touting their business credentials and how that makes them a good or better candidate, tell them to shut the hell up.
Don’t agree? Well then, if “real” business background is so all-fire important, wouldn’t you say that the best presidents of the United States would have had some of that critical experience? Hmmm?
So here’s a list of the top-10 best presidents. Sure, there are lots of these lists, which, remarkably, are pretty similar, They even look a lot alike based on whether the recommendations come from liberals, conservatives, scholars or historians. So you want to know how many of those top presidents had cut their business chops?
Take a peek for yourself:
Abraham Lincoln — No business experience. At the top of everyone’s list, Mr. Lincoln was an Illinois lawyer who grew up pretty poor and had a thing for flowery talk, big ideas and forcing everyone to play nice. Now where have I heard that biography before?
Franklin D. Roosevelt — No business experience. A guy who got things done against all odds, FDR, who was saddled with the Great Depression fallout, was a rich lawyer.
George Washington — No business experience. The father of our country was a military and policy wonk. He believed in a strong federal government that could work to solve the problems of individuals through taxation and legislation. Hmmm.
Theodore Roosevelt — No business experience. Teddy was a rich kid and naturalist-turned-lawyer who liked playing with animals. A bright guy with big ideas and a lot of political enemies.
Harry S. Truman — A little business experience. Truman was a mama’s boy who didn’t know what he wanted. He went to a private business school for a few months and opened a hat store for a brief time. But most of his life was spent holding a host of elected government jobs. He was no Bill Gates.
Woodrow Wilson — No business experience. Wilson was, yup, another lawyer. He was mostly a hypochondriac and an intellectual policy wonk. When he felt good, he got plenty done.
Thomas Jefferson — No business experience. Jefferson was a spoiled intellectual who liked to dabble in everything, including running the country.
John F. Kennedy — No business experience. Another of the privileged class who went to law school at Harvard, yawn, did time in the military and went on to become a hugely popular president.
Dwight D. Eisenhower — No business experience. Eisenhower was Mr. Military, very much like George Washington. Eisenhower understood how big government units worked and how to get the most out of them. He won wars and hearts, not MBAs.
Ronald Reagan — No business experience. OK, the Gipper doesn’t make any serious lists of top presidents, but I couldn’t resist. The father of Reaganomics was an actor-turned politician.
So if you’re looking for whether Romney or President Barack Obama might make the above list some day by saving our sorry butts from the disaster wrought by the Bush Era — who, by the way makes nobody’s top list — don’t look to business savvy as being any more important than shoe size.
Reach editor Dave Perry at 303-750-7555 or firstname.lastname@example.org