Business, Money and Politics

I don’t have any way to creatively tie these two articles together, other than they are both about politics, money and business and how those three things intersect.

The first article is about specifically about business women running for office in California and Connecticut and more specifically about how experience in business doesn’t necessarily translate into success in politics.

I have no serious problem with any of the three: in California, in particular, the women, Fiorina and Whitman, face Democratic candidates (Barbara Boxer and Jerry Brown) whose loss would do no great harm to the nation. I do have a problem, however, with the continued promotion of business success as a qualifier for public office. Success in the market is not an automatic disqualifier for public service, but it is a far different undertaking with different purposes and different values. And to suggest that government needs people experienced in business reminds me of the old feminist saw that a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle. In fact, business and government—while there may be skills involved that are translatable and useful as one moves from one sphere to another— are in some ways polar opposite undertakings.

The business of business is business and the goal of business is to earn a profit in the provision of goods and services. The business of government is service—well managed, one hopes, and not wasteful, but never at a profit. There is no such thing as government money. Governments have no money; they have only what they take from their citizens, either in taxes or by inflation. And if government accrues profit it can only have done so by taxing too much or eroding the value of the citizen’s income and savings—in either case doing harm, not good, to the people who have created it for the advantages such a common effort is presumed to bestow.

The second, from Gawker, examines the bizarre case (which you’ve probably heard by now) of South Carolina Democratic Senate candidate Alvin Greene.

Greene, is ahem, so green at politics most people assumed he was a Republican plant of some sort.  But Gawker raises the interesting point that we’ve become so jaded in American politics, so used to rich fat cats running for office, that it’s nearly impossible to believe that a quiet, unemployed, humble man living with his father, a former soldier (who doesn’t like talking much about his service) at that, is a legitimate candidate for the US Senate.

Well, either that or he’s brain damaged.

It’s clear that Alvin Greene is utterly disconnected from the normal workings of power. He didn’t pretend to be interested in what a single voter had to tell him at a Memorial Day Parade! He didn’t run even a single misleading campaign advertisement! What about a half-assed website full of pictures of his politically convenient marriage? Also, he is incoherent and obviously incompetent—but he won anyway! That the media is split between seeing Greene either as a proto-Sarah Palin or “borderline-retarded” says something funny about both Sarah Palin, and the media.

Both are fairly fascinating reads.

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