Tina Dupuy is an award-winning writer and the managing editor of “Crooks and Liars.” She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.
You can’t run government like a business anymore than you can run business like a government. GOP presumptive nominee Mitt Romney burned corporations to the ground and made millions selling off the charcoal. This private sector experience is being touted as his qualification to be president. This expertise of bankaneering — corporate raiding — is so sexy to Republicans they now parrot the line, “President Obama doesn’t understand the economy,” implying Romney does because he’s been in the trenches breathing the fumes of leveraged buyouts.
That’s like a fox claiming he has the insider knowledge to properly guard the hen house. “The farmer just doesn’t understand poultry.”
As billionaire Julian Robertson (after giving $1.25 million Restore Our Future — a pro-Romney superPAC) told NPR last week, “I think Barack Obama is a smart man that the electorate put into power without any qualifications to run the biggest business in the world, which is the United States of America.”
The thing is the U.S. isn’t a business. Government isn’t a business just as an apple isn’t an orange. Running government like a business would be like running Yosemite National Park like a 7-Eleven — every inch is monetized to maximize profit — half off all 5-Hour Energy Shots on Half Dome! “A mountain of savings!” It sounds clever in sound bites. They hope it sounds like Republicans are business-friendly and quick with the flippant solutions: Government bad, business good — treat one like the other and both will be good! To me it sounds like the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) with a profit motive: another stunningly bad idea.
Vulture capitalism (to borrow a phrase from the leftist pinko Texas Gov. Rick Perry) is hardly a good model for public service. Capitalizing on demolishing jobs doesn’t give you any insight into the common good, unless you take “common good” to mean just your wealthy friends.
This whole selling point of Romney having business experience, therefore he’s the best to run the country, implies that the economy collapsed because there wasn’t enough of a cozy relationship between government and business.
Yes, the world melted because Washington was too adversarial with Wall Street. It was Godzilla battling Mothra that trampled Main Street ... instead of deregulated greed greased by conspiring politicians.
But Republicans, as you recall, came out firmly against empathy (when it comes to President Obama’s judicial appointments). But they feel empathy for corporations is what’s lacking in the Executive Office. They want a president who feels the pain of Big Business. Who understands that just like you and me corporations are people, my friends. And only the former CEO Romney can see eye-to-eye with a contrived paper-based legal entity.
It’s very telling that Republicans say government is a business and should be run like one. For them, there’s no conflict — only interest. Government is just an extension of business. Like in 2007, when a reporter asked how many of Romney’s five sons were serving in the military. Romney’s answer: “One of the ways my sons are showing support for our nation is helping me get elected because they think I’d be a great president.” It’s just really all the same thing to Romney.
We don’t want our government to be run like a corporation. With any follow-up questions the analogy fails. Corporations don’t ensure rights. Especially rights which annoy yield like free speech and due process. Slavery was profitable. As was child labor. Pollution is profitable.
If making rich people richer was the sole purpose of government (like it is of corporations) we’d no longer have a country: We’d have Lehman Brothers.
Tina Dupuy is an award-winning writer and the managing editor of Crooks and Liars. Tina can be reached at email@example.com.