Archive for January, 2012


I was watching Rachel Maddow run down the latest on the current (and dwindling) Republican presidential field. This is my screen capture from the segment:

RachelMaddow-ScreenCapture-13Jan2011Show-400x260pxl

It struck me all of a sudden: every face on that screen – except Newt – was the face of a “healthy-weight” person. Longer and thinner, and more angular because of that.

Not Newt. Newt is a kind of stocky guy, in the parlance of my childhood. He’s a heavier man. I don’t really care, figuring it to be his own business. But it does occur to me that any female candidate bigger than “pleasantly plump” (also in the parlance of my childhood*) would surely be the target of fat jokes just like any celebrity, of questions as to her ability to maintain control over things (she can’t even control her weight!), of some unspecified derision.

Such are the lives of fat women – criticized by unthinking people who have no clue whether it is a choice or not, and even if choice is involved, who are we to say?

So the absence of critique of Newt’s round face, or pudgy belly, or whatever fruit might be ripe for comedic pickings, is actually the way things should  be: attention on the person’s policy beliefs, ability to get things done, to attempt to prove their worth as a leader. Which Newt will not, at least not to enough people.

But for all his bluster, I think Newt at least thinks of himself seriously, at least some of the time.  I think he lives in a dream world, but within his framework, he at least attempts to make sense. And those are the things the voters focus on, for good or bad, when considering Newt.  Not his weight. His ideas, his record, his potential. Hate him, love him, it’s not about his physique, it’s about what’s going on in that crackpot li’l head of his.

Which, as I noted above, is the way things should be. For everyone, male or female.

 

* I think from descriptions of“Bess” in the Nancy Drew books.

Paul Krugman speaks to my issue:

Why isn’t a national economy like a corporation? For one thing, there’s no simple bottom line. For another, the economy is vastly more complex than even the largest private company.

Most relevant for our current situation, however, is the point that even giant corporations sell the great bulk of what they produce to other people, not to their own employees — whereas even small countries sell most of what they produce to themselves, and big countries like America are overwhelmingly their own main customers.

[….]

Consider what happens when a business engages in ruthless cost-cutting. From the point of view of the firm’s owners (though not its workers), the more costs that are cut, the better. Any dollars taken off the cost side of the balance sheet are added to the bottom line.

But the story is very different when a government slashes spending in the face of a depressed economy. Look at Greece, Spain, and Ireland, all of which have adopted harsh austerity policies. In each case, unemployment soared, because cuts in government spending mainly hit domestic producers. And, in each case, the reduction in budget deficits was much less than expected, because tax receipts fell as output and employment collapsed.

via America Isn’t a Corporation – NYTimes.com.

I’m sure there are many other reasons why governments and businesses are different, and given the way this topic has moved to the forefront of the presidential campaign, there will probably be a number of articles in the weeks and maybe even months to come, which detail the differences quite nicely.

But the bottom line, so to speak, is this: the goals of nations and profit-making enterprises are different. Nations do not prioritize making profits, and that makes all the difference, in policy, in assessing outcomes, in planning for the future.

It’s fair to dispute the idea that Mitt Romney’s business-dude experience was as wonderful as he claims. But it’s perhaps more important to debate the idea that business people have relevant experience for the running of government.  Many people start in business, get interested in government, get a position on a city council or even in their state legislature, and then go on to seek national office in Congress or the White House.  But this seems to me to be a sensible path: take an initial experience as a business person, then spend some time in government learning more about the sausage making of laws and policy, before thinking about running things at the top of our nation’s government. With that path, someone in government uses their business experience in combination with their legislative or policy experience, to hopefully create a perspective truly useful to our nation.

Somehow I don’t get that from Romney.  Greedy in business, apparently not that great of a governor.  Is this someone who can meld his paltry experiences into something useful for the nation as a whole?  Doubtful.

It’s a question I often ask myself – usually any time some aspiring business dude (or gal, but it’s usually a dude) starts talking about running the country. Sure, they may be talented at what they do. But do they have the skills to run a public office?

Leaving aside the question of whether someone is good at their job, or whether their achievements are desirable, Ezra Klein looks at this question in light of Mitt Romney’s claim to have skills appropriate to the presidency when he cites his “job-creation” and businessman track record.

Romney was running a private-equity firm that specialized in leveraged buy-outs. Obama is president of the largest economy on earth during the worst economic crisis in 80 years. However Romney performed, however Obama is performing, the two jobs simply aren’t comparable. Romney is not being elected to issue debt, purchase private companies and try to return a profit for the taxpayer. He might be very good at doing all of that, but as president, that won’t be his job. It won’t even be close to his job.

via Romney’s Bain figures don’t add up – The Washington Post.

It often seems that folks forget that running a government and running a business are two different entities – yes, both have a lot of rules and a lot of paperwork and a lot of think-tankish-bull-session qualities, but the goals are absolutely different. And that means that not all administrative skills are applicable to both environments.

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