Business Experience

Just knowing that Mayor Cory Booker, a shinning example of a quality public servant and possible future presidential prospect, is campaigning for the Obama Administration makes today better than it otherwise would have been had I not know.

During a stop in New Hampshire this week, the good mayor took on the idea that presidential candidates must have business experience, or in the case of Mitt Romney, experience in firing lots of people for a living, in order to occupy the Oval Office.

Newark Mayor Cory Booker, campaigning in New Hampshire for President Obama, lit into one of Republican Mitt Romney’s main arguments for his candidacy: his business experience. [...]

There is no natural correlation between private sector business experience and how you’re going to do,” said Booker. “Unfortunately New Jersey is seeing that right now with the private sector business experience of our former governor [Jon Corzine] and the challenges that he’s facing right now.” [...]

“Is it the private sector business experience of a Bernie Madoff?” he said, referencing the jailed investment magnate. “Now I’m not comparing Romney to those folks with all due respect, but Abraham Lincoln, one of our greatest presidents, was a failure at business. FDR didn’t have private sector business experience but did a great job. John F. Kennedy was a phenomenal president that didn’t have business experience.”

The notion that you must have business experience to run for the presidency stems from the idea that business is always run better than government. That business is efficient and effective, while government is bloated and ineffective.

The truth is bad management is bad management, whether its public or private. The real difference between the two is that public managers are accountable to the public while private managers are accountable only to a board of directors or shareholders. Shareholders and directors expect ever-higher profits at the cost of their own moral fiber, while voters expect competent governance at the cost of their tax dollars.

The code of ethics governing the two are incompatible, and we shouldn't pretend that they are. Efficiency should be a concern for public managers, and all available evidence suggests efficiency is an integral value of the Obama Administration, but only in the interest of effectively using taxpayer dollars. Not in the interest of turning a profit on the backs of others.

  • trgahan

    Oh please…just wait until we have a Democratic President who is a former CEO; then business experience will become a horrible quality for the chief executive. It is just another dog wistle for “Rich white male.”

  • intoxination

    My argument to this has always been that business is there to make profit, so does the right believe the government should make a profit?

    • JMAshby

      They believe government should help corporations make profits, regardless of the cost.

    • ryo80

      Exactly! Private Businesses exist to expand, but the GOP want to contract the government to bicentennial lows. Private businesses see short term profit in laying workers off, but they talk of rampant job growth, when their only solution is starving the economy through fierce austerity. All if it is newsspeak in the worst sense.

    • Guest

      Businesses exist to manufacture products or provide services to customers. That’s number 1. Then, number 2 on the list is to maximise shareholder value, whether the shareholders are the owners, employees, or the public. Number 3 is to turn a profit. In our upside down, pretzel logic modern society, number 3 has become number 1.

      Someone needs to remind Mitt, that Ronnie Raygun was a grade B movie actor and his only business experience was when he was hired as the host of General Electric Theater. Very few of our presidents have had actual experience managing a business. One who comes to mind is Calvin Coolidge who managed a farm. He was useless as a president. Not to mention Bush 2 with his MBA who was useless as a president.

      It is impossible to predict from previous experience who will be a useless president and who rise to the occasion to move the nation to a better place during difficult circumstances.

      • intoxination

        Another good example is Eisenhower. He wasn’t a business man, but he was the last Republican President to have a balanced budget.

    • D_C_Wilson

      Businesses also want to expand, so the right must really want government to expand as well (usually into your bedroom and/or religious views).

      • intoxination

        You forgot the womb!