Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Private affairs and public office

If you believe the commercials and the mailers, the 2012 Presidential Election (send money) is the most monumental election (send money) in our lifetime, and there has never (send money) been a clearer difference between the (send money) candidates.

On the one hand, you have the baby seal clubbers (to borrow a phrase from Dave Barry). They warn us that our country will collapse if we entrust it to someone who spent his formative private sector years as a community organizer and a college lecturer.

On the other hand, you have the Communists (to borrow a phrase from any of thousands of typewritten truth sheets). They warn us that our country will collapse if we entrust it to someone who spent a significant portion of his private sector career as an outsourcing venture capitalist.

Neither the baby seal clubbers nor the Communists are willing to admit the truth. And the truth is that a candidate's contributions to the private sector bear no relation to the candidate's ability to govern in the public sector. In fact, a candidate's private sector contributions are as important to actually governing as a candidate's ability to spout one-minute platitudes in a so-called "debate."

And frankly, if a candidate's contributions to the private sector ARE that important, then we should have rejected ALL of the presidential candidate clowns from the last fifty years - with the exception of Ross Perot.

I mean, look at the private sector careers of the people who actually won elections over the last few decades:

We can dispense with the community organizer/college lecturer right off the bat. No contributions to society there.

One could argue that a sports team owner is making contributions to society; sports team owners themselves certainly make that argument. But when you consider that most of the jobs created are temporary, and that sports teams often benefit from huge tax breaks, it's not necessarily a net gain.

A lawyer? Enough said.

An oil industry guy? Yeah, right.

A former UNION HEAD? Give me a break. (It's funny how those who are so dismissive of a community organizer consider a former union head to be their patron saint.)

OK, maybe a peanut farmer hires people in the economy. But peanuts are bad for you. Heaven help the person who eats a bag of peanuts and drinks a Big Gulp at the same time.

Now one can argue that someone who has headed his or her own company - someone, for example, like Ross Perot - has acquired the executive experience to become the President of the United States. Unfortunately, private sector executive experience is also irrelevant.

It may not be obvious when you listen to presidential candidate platitudes and sound bites, but a President of the United States can't really do much of anything. Unlike corporate boards of directors, who are often subservient to the head of a company, the U.S. Congress doesn't let the President do anything he or she wants to do. Well, the U.S. Congress lets the President declare war - something that technically is the job of the U.S. Congress. But other than that, the President can't fulfill any of his or her campaign promises without Congressional assent.

Maybe we should be asking what these Congresspeople used to do for a living.
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