Do We Need Businessmen in Government? Based upon His Business Acumen, Donald Trump Briefly Became the Lead GOP Contender for the 2012 Presidential Race. but Would Businessmen in Politics Lead to Good Ends?

Article excerpt

One of many creepy features of the Obama administration is the dearth of people in its ranks who have real-world commercial business experience. This might help account for the rise of real-estate mogul Donald Trump to become, briefly, the front-runner (according to polls of Republican voters in April) in the effort to unseat Obama. After using his high-profile presidential bid to secure a new two-year contract from NBC for his Celebrity Apprentice show (for which he will personally pocket, reportedly, $65 million per year), Trump announced that he was dropping the White House run to pursue his real passion: business. However, he has continued his regular appearances on Fox news, criticizing President Obama and threatening to run as an independent candidate, if the Republicans nominate a "loser."


Many conservative-leaning Republicans, it appears, continue to be held in thrall to "The Donald." Trump, after all, is a businessman, they reason, and surely we need someone like that in the White House, especially given the gross ignorance of business that is replete in the Obama administration.

This impulse is wrong, and I will explain why. But let us first acknowledge the problem.

Michael Cembalest, the chief investment officer for J.P. Morgan Private Bank, wrote up a report in Forbes in 2009 that claimed a huge gap between the Obama administration and the world of commerce. The number of Cabinet appointees who have any connection to commerce, he wrote, is less than 10 percent, whereas the typical Republican administration has more than 50 percent. Eisenhower had the highest percentage of the century, with Reagan a close second.

This report was later disputed by those who regard community organizing, work for government-funded research labs, and law partnerships to be business experience. Those who dispute the report, for example, cite Timothy Geithner's work for Kissinger Associates as the "private sector." That's a stretch! In any case, the author of the report later withdrew it, admitting that there were too many close calls--too many leaky passages between public and private--to make an objective judgment.

There can be no question that the Obama administration is tone deaf on matters of business and that this is part of the reason. There is virtually no one in a position to weigh in on legislation or on economic matters at all who has a clue of what it is like to pay the bills based on consumer-driven revenue, do the cost accounting, hire and fire workers, reach out to new markets, or beat the competition. They have about as much sympathy for the daily affairs of commerce--the heart and soul of a thriving economy - as the rest of us have for the workers and peasants of the planet Pluto.

This helps explain why there are so many in government today who think that regulations are no big deal, that taxes can go up with no consequence, that inflation is harmless, that the minimum wage--and the regular increases in the minimum wage--surely causes no harm. For these people, the causes of job creation and economic growth are ultimately mysterious. They are vulnerable to witch-doctor technicians who announce the need for new trillions in spending or some new cockamamie scheme for regulation.

How did the Obama appointees get where they are? They are mostly creatures of the political, legal, and academic worlds that exist in blissful isolation from the need to actually produce anything useful to people. They came up through the ranks in this system and learned that capitalism is mostly dangerous, that business is a menace, that only governments and the activists that support governments make a contribution to progress.

Even though they have lived their entire lives in a parasitic relationship to the private sector, they have no sympathy for or understanding of the host. If they think of the private sector at all, it is to regard it as a thing to use and loot, and otherwise whip into shape. …