Business != Government

There is a popular refrain that because Trump is a successful business man he should be able to fix a lot of the problems with Government.  I see the appeal in this thought but its just plain wrong.

From talking to various people the thought process goes like this:

1. he has created a successful business

2. he has learned how to control costs

3. he has learned how to hold employees accountable for performance

4. government costs too much and isn’t accountable

5. he should be able to fix things.

Reasonable logic on the face of it. Lets go through point by point.

For the sake of argument I’ll take it as a given that he’s successful.  I’m not sure how anyone can bankrupt a casino, but he’s accumulated a lot of wealth; not as much as he’s claimed but a lot.

Anyone in business needs to balance the books or go out of business via bankruptcy or selling to another company.  He’s done both of these.  That is not an option with The US Government.  It would have serious consequences to the world.  Without this lever, will he be able to do the necessary things?  He will probably be able to find some waste in government but will he be able to get the other people in the checks & balances system to agree?  There are vested interests all around that want some of that spending in place because it creates jobs and lines pockets.  His skills in business are not well suited to dealing with that problem.

As for holding people accountable, I hope he can do some of that.  The problem is, in a company he is all three branches of government rolled into one.  He doesn’t have that control as POTUS.  He cannot unilaterally make decisions.  The Constitution specifically denies him that power to avoid an authoritarian, king-like figure.  He has spent his entire career calling all the shots, making the decisions and making people do his bidding.  In Government we call that a King or a Dictator.

We can all agree that there is a lot of waste in government and there are numerous examples of contractors getting deals that allow endless cost overruns and late deliveries.  Part of that is expected when pushing the fringes of what is possible, e.g. new military equipment or space hardware.  I hope that his business savvy examines some of this, but ultimately Congress dictates where money is spent and allocates the funds.  His job is to execute the plans that are approved.

The last point is a big one.  He probably won’t be able to fix things.  I think he knows that.  He’s appointing people with no experience or explicit conflicts of interest to posts.  His appointments are putting the foxes in charge of the hen house.  Human nature is to do things that are in your own self interest and it is difficult to get people with power to act against their own self interests.  He has said that he wants “people that have made a ton of money” to help fix things.  The problem there is that those people have spent their lives working for their own best interests, does anyone else thing that will change because the got a new job?  That’s naive at best.

To summarize, I posit that the skills to run a business are not the ones necessary for an executive office.  The roles between chief executive of the USA is not the same as CEO or president of a company; there are too many differences in what you can and cannot do.  If a business person really wants to make a difference, go into Congress. There is much more power to influence the budget and actually craft the laws to force change.  Focus on removing pork and riders from legislation.  Work on the process of crafting laws.  Dictate the things that the executive must do with the funding you provide them.  That is a much better fit than POTUS.

He won the electoral votes.  He is most likely going to be the president.  I’m hoping that Congress, as dysfunctional as it is, does the right thing and keeps him in check.  I’m hoping that SCOTUS keeps him in check.  I’m hoping that the ACLU, NAACP, etc keep him in check.  I’m hoping that we, the American people, who he will swear to serve, will keep a close eye on him and call shenanigans when it goes off the rails.

There is frustration with our Government because its not really governing and is a den of corruption.  This is natural.  When you are given power and offered things that will make things better for you and your family, how many would say, “no, that’s not right for the country”?  I’m guessing many fewer than will say they will.  The temptation is always there and it takes a strong will to stay on the straight and narrow path.

Trump and his appointments have demonstrated, that while good at business, that they will look out for their own interests.  It will be critical that the other branches uphold the Constitution and make sure that none of them is profiting from their service in the US government.

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