Notes on Political Venality, Pomposity and Associated Stupidity.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The Bush Business Administration

A direct line connects corporate America with the current administration -- and I'm not talking about the flow of money via wire transfer. What I am talking about is the corporate mindset, particularly as it has been promulgated over the past thirty years or so.

In the days before we added the "neo" to conservative, folks of that ilk thought that bringing fiscal restraint and business-like approaches to government might help. And they were, in many cases, correct. Government does have a tendency to grow like kudzu. One small law, creating say the Nebraska Corn Improvement Zone (no such organization really exists...or does it?) could, over the course of a decade or so, become large and unwieldy, full of patronage positions and thoroughly unresponsive to its initial charter. That sort of conservatism I can applaud.

But, as we all know, those simple days are over. And so, when today's conservatives talk about bringing business principals to the government table they aren't usually talking about small government or the tracking of expenditures. What they want to do is bring the absolute worst part of American business into the government realm; the top down, exucutive as king model.

It is this we see every day with CEO George W. Bush. It's a very basic equation; If I like your idea, you get to stay and tell me more stuff I like. If I don't like what you have to say, please clean out your desk. It's my way or the highway. Donald Trump with Secret Service protection. You're fired.

And we shouldn't be surprised that this approach is lauded. Hell, the bookstores are chock a block with arrogant tomes from hundreds of big business blowhards, all touting some "system" or "approach." All telling us "how I did it!" Perhaps their poster child was Jack Welch, a brittle little creep whose only real genius was self promotion.

But while the "top down" approach has, at least publically, been dismissed as old-fashioned, most workers can tell you the truth; in the end, the boss still makes all the decisions. And usually, they listen more to their wives and kids and golfing buds than they do to their employees.

I have no trouble with the top down approach in theory. Someone ultimately DOES have to make a decision. But what bothers me is an approach that pretends to be this yet isn't. For, if you pretend to take people's views and ideas into the mix, but always reject the ones you personally don't like, you end up with a dysfunctional system. People stop bringing you new ideas. People only tell you what you want to hear. Good people move on, wanting no part of your game. And that's where we are in the current GWB Business Administration.

We have a government that acts like General Motors (or perhaps more accurately, Enron), anxious to run-up executive salaries, ignore the needs and wants of its employees and basically govern by fiat from the board room.

So the next time you hear some politco swooning over "running government like a business," ask them this; "Are you going to run it like the CEO...or like the guy on the line in Duluth?" If he says CEO, just say CULATER.