History has shown us that those who are good at business make failed presidents. The low number of highly successful businessmen becoming successful presidents is none. Zero! On the flip side, no highly successful president has been a highly successful businessman.
By far, the majority of U.S. presidents have been career politicians or lawyers, 21 in fact. A mixed bag follows with eight generals, some professors, engineers, a movie actor and other professions.
George “Dubya” Bush’s 20 years in business shows he failed as an oilman, but made millions for himself by investing in the Texas Rangers. However, most attribute his success to connections the Bush family had and not George’s astute business ability.
His presidential record consisted of a pro-business, anti-consumer agenda; giving huge tax breaks to the rich, replete with crony capitalism with contract awards, and laden with some of the biggest corporate scandals and bankruptcies since the Great Depression.
He got us into two wars that weren’t paid for, our economy tanked, and millions lost their jobs. Surveys rank him in the bottom fourth of successful presidents. He wrote books about his flubs.
It has taken President Obama eight years to pull us out of the hole that businessman Dubya put us in. His father is ranked as a so-so president and a success in business, but he is the exception.
By definition, the objectives and the whole purpose for being in business and government are diabolically opposed. A business is in business to make money, to make a profit, and employees oftentimes get fired to meet that end.
To a business CEO, employees are expendable. “Sorry Dave, I’ve known you for 25 years and know your family, but business is business and I have to let you go.” The business CEO’s world is dictated by hard facts, not emotions or people.
Contrast that with the objective of government, which is to provide services on a collective basis, services that would benefit people. To a government leader, the delivery of service is the goal. They are constrained by budgets, yes, but their goal is to provide a service, not to make a profit by providing less service.
The president has to work with members of Congress who are all elected and he can’t fire them. To be effective, he or she requires a very different skill set from a business CEO.
Don’t be fooled. Business people make failed presidents. There is a big lesson to be learned here.
Tyler Cassell is a resident of Flushing.