I hear a lot of people talking about how Mitt Romney would make a good president because he has been a successful businessman, because he knows how to make profit and turn things around, etc. For example, Pat Burke, a local self-employed entrepreneur says,
You need to vote for the most electable conservative. … We want someone new, someone who has business experience. It’s the economy, economy, economy.
A businessman doesn’t know how to run government. That’s a common fallacy. “Electability” is a different topic, but let’s talk about that business acumen and whether it translates to politicking.
Mitt Romney: businessman or career politician?
The right-wing idea of making government “more efficient” or more business-like whatever is a canard. They romanticize “business” and then suppose that because a certain man is a businessman (whose business usualy bears no resemblance to the highly idealized caricature they extoll) that he will be able to bend the apparatus of government more to their liking, more businesslike. But because there is such a divergence between our ideas about government & business, and the reality of government and business, that’s never going to happen.
Laws are spider webs through which the big flies pass and the little ones get caught. — Honore de Balzac
The sort of “successful” businessmen typically presented as political hopefuls are not necessarily savvy entrepreneurs, allocating scarce resources efficiently across a truly competitive freed-market economy. Instead, they are merely those most capable of navigating the spiders’ webs of laws and regulations which they use to browbeat their competition, and they are the most connected to politicians and the lobbyists who convince the politicianss to privilege some at the expense of others.
If businessmen like Romney become “successful” politicians, it has nothing to do with their “business” acumen, it will be because they already know politics. He is successful at business because he negotiates politics and he negotiates politics by fucking some portion of the population in order to appease the others. If they do this long enough, eventually they’ll get to come full circle, retire, get a 7-figure job on K-Street and write those laws.
Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.