1. Timberwoof says

    “Sir, you talked about running the country like a business. What would you do with the states that are underperforming? I mean those that are a drain on the federal budget? States like California are profitable to the US, but Missississippi is a loss leader. Do you plan to continue to spend money there?”

  2. Dianne says

    Interestingly, it’s mostly the “blue states” that are supporting the “red states”. So to treat the US as a business, Romney would have to sell off the states that are supporting him…

  3. Art says

    An interesting parallel to using the business model in other contexts was McNamara’s attempt to run the Vietnam war like a business. The result was that pretty much every tactical mission, military and political, was a success. All the metrics were positive. Costs and casualties were down. By all accounts by the early 70s the South Vietnamese forces were relatively well trained and exceedingly well equipped compared to other nations in the area.

    But declining casualty rates failed to reverse the declining public support. The war effort was an economic burden and drag on the economy. Strong North Vietnam determination, in spite of massive losses, were faced off against spotty South Vietnamese resistance and will. The separation north and south was artificial and the cultural commonalities stronger than the political and economic differences.

    Business methods clearly have limited utility when applied to the art of war. In part this is because business has never really gotten a handle on the vigorous and vicious externalities of any situation where there aren’t referees to complain to and play, and rules to exploit and hide behind. Business works pretty well when there is narrow contest on a well defined field surrounded by laws, courts, police, a long tradition of business culture, and accounting rules. All of this run by people other than the players on the field.

    Businessmen like to picture themselves as ‘warriors’ who ‘eat what they kill’ but it is a very narrow, formalized and bloodless battlefield they fight on. Should one of those so called Masters of the Universe take a shortcut outside his air conditioned office complex and gated community he gets mugged by a thug with a tire iron like any other mere mortal. That is the point. Successful businessmen are specialized and optimized in the way they act and think to win in the bloodless world of high finance and cubical farms. Leading a nation isn’t a business.

    Historically businessmen don’t make good presidents. The outside world doesn’t often play by any particular set of rules and, unlike being a CEO, the president can’t really get much done by simply demanding it. The most effective presidents were coalition builders who could use power and persuade. Barking orders and a ‘my way or the highway’ attitude works for CEO but is inevitably self-defeating as president.


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