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Presidents with business experience not necessarily a good choice

By Dian Vujovich

Lots has been said about electing a president with business experience. For some the thinking is if a person has been a seasoned and successful businessperson that they’ll make a great president. Trouble is, history shows a prez with a business background doesn’t necessarily make a great president.

It troubles me that lots of folks are thinking Mitt Romney would make a great president because of his previous business experience at Bain Capital. Think about what Bain Capital does for a minute or two and it will dawn on you that that private equity firm is a wealth creator for the very wealthy only.

As we all know, private equity investors aren’t made up of your average working moms and dads or ordinary citizens. They are investors with big bucks who can afford to take big risks with their bucks. Based upon that reality, Romney’s business experience doesn’t score well with me because our country is made up of millions of more working individuals than it is qualified investors. Plus, we are in the midst of The Great Recession that’s a long way from ending. In other words, I’d like a president who knows how the 75 percenters live, feel, work and think. Not whose background was focused on private equity investments and mergers and acquisitions and how they can make millions and billions for a few.

You also don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that the rich really are different: Having cash on hand to pay for an emergency, like your car breaking down or buying groceries, isn’t a concern for them—they’ve got the cash to cover unexpected incidentals like that.

Nonetheless, the idea of a businessperson occupying the White House can strike a common-sense kind of cord until you look back at history. And, you don’t have to look very far back to see how that combo has worked.

Take the most recent example, George W. Bush.

In Kevin Phillips’ book, “American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in the house of Bush”, three of W’s business experiences were failures: Arbusto, an oil exploration company, Spectrum 7 energy corp and Harken Energy. The book also mentions how a 1991 SEC document suggested W. violated federal securities law at least four times in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Ouch.

Then from a USA Today, story published last year comes this about other presidents and their business failings: Abe Lincoln opened a general store in 1833 with a partner, went into debt to finance it and it failed a year later, and, Harry Truman opened a clothing store in Kansas city that went bankrupt.

On the business success side, Warren Harding’s purchases of a newspaper allowed him the income to run for office; Jimmy Carter’s peanut business was hugely successful; and the senior George Bush made bazillions in the oil business.

Bottom line: A history of running a business absolutely positively guarantees nothing when it comes to governing a country.

Heck, even in Florida where the businessman turned governor Rick Scott has recognized that. In a CNNFortune magazine story published yesterday (1/12/12) comes this: “Scott packed his administration with former executives and says he’s determined to run Florida like a business, but privately admits that C-suite techniques can’t fix every problem. “Not all of government can run like a business,” Scott reportedly told an aide.”


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