Business undermined by greedy politicians

Posted by on Jul 25th, 2010 and filed under Economy, Politics, Regulation. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry from your site

By T.R. Fehrenbach

President Calvin Coolidge said that the business of America was business, for which he was castigated or ridiculed by the aboriginal American intelligentsia.

Coolidge was disdained because he didn’t do much in office, but few presidents did unless faced with wars, rebellion, or other crises.

But the fact is, old Cal was right. Business is the thing most Americans do best, even better than government.

Everything that we do well, after all, depends on American business. Good government, military power, employment, charity, standards of living and serving as refuge to failed societies depend on the health of American enterprise. As business goes, so goes the nation. This should be evident in recessions.

The majority of Americans work and therefore eat and pay taxes because they are involved in some sort of surplus-producing private business, from industry to sales to finance to science and agriculture. Enterprises such as charities, education, and government — non-profits in general — are utterly dependent on profit-making business for funding. You’d think people would grasp this when things get rough.

But many simply blame business for their problems. Rather than rally, repair, and support enterprise, many want to kick it when it’s down. Most downturns result from government policies (too much credit or too little; remember, government completely controls money and credit) but governments never blame themselves. And instead of saving business, most try to save themselves.

There are many reasons for this. Business is always being undermined by the demons inherent in democracy: greedy politicians and populist programs that gut it. By and large, educators and clergy, who create no wealth, put other callings first. Bright people are urged not to go into business and make money but to serve their fellow man. The problem is, nobody can serve anybody without the wherewithal. Many people who live off donations and taxes affect to despise the source, much in the manner that clean-handed lords despised their grubbing serfs.

Business usually has a bad time with experts and politicians, who see business mainly as a public tool to be manipulated and exploited. However, a modern economy is too complex to be managed by policy makers of any ilk, liberal or conservative. Most efforts to run or regulate business screw up. This is why I sometimes think that the mindless market (throw mud on the wall and see what sticks) is superior to all the well-laid plans of mice and men. Politicians say they love business. Untrue. Democrats love jobs but hate employers. Republicans love capitalism but detest entrepreneurs who create wealth but distrust politicians. Both parties prefer business as a cash cow rather than a raging bull.

Still, I think most Americans retain a sense of this reality: To be in business, you must create, provide or sell something. If you can’t do this, you aren’t in business; if you can’t profit from it, you’re out of business. This is extremely democratic, because the public votes on you every day.

There is hope in our hypocrisy. While we profess admiration for professors, politicians, and preachers, most of us would rather have lunch with Bill Gates or Warren Buffett.


This article was originally written by T.R. Fehrenbach at

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