The United States has never had a president who had a business background and no experience in public service. Would it be a good idea to start?

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Our experience of businessmen-presidents has not been good: Warren G. Harding and George W. Bush. And even here Harding had been a U.S. Senator and Bush the governor of one of our most populous states.

The tragic Herbert Hoover became a successful and wealthy engineer, but earned his policy chops helping feed starving populations during and after World War I. Keynes said the selfless Hoover was the only participant in the Versailles peace conference who left with his reputation enhanced. He was an activist Commerce Secretary, driving the inert President Coolidge (former governor) crazy.

This year, the Republicans have two primary candidates who are businesspeople, Donald Trump and Carly Fiorina. Neither have experience as public servants or in foreign policy. Both have presided over business disasters. Fiorina, especially, has misled about her record, especially at Hewlett Packard.

Then there’s the non-candidate, Howard Schultz of Starbucks, who wrote a high-minded call for a “servant leader” in the New York Times. His call for bipartisanship might have worked in the 1950s and 1960s (maybe), but that consensus is gone. One of our two great political parties does not believe in science or that there is a public interest.

The problem of a business leader untested in public service is that government doesn’t and can’t “run like a business.” It must do things businesses can’t, answer to more than shareholders, the daily stock price or an algorithm, step in where markets fail, and police the marketplace.

Also, we live in an era when enormous corporations wield unprecedented power and capacity to corrupt the system, amped up by Citizens United. Do we really want an oligarch in chief?

That’s my two drachmas. I invite you to leave yours in the comments section and vote:

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This Week’s Links:

The Amazonization of everything | Jacobin

July employment report: solid job gains, no wage pressures | Jared Bernstein

Taylor Swift reveals how she stood up to Apple | Vanity Fair

U.S. layoffs reach highest level in four years | 24/7 Wall Street

American defense contractors getting more business from abroad | Business Insider

Interest rates and house prices: pill or poison? | The Big Picture

The declining impact of U.S. income taxes on wealth inequality | Nick Bunker


Today’s Econ Haiku:

If Howard did run

He’d lose some votes here faster

Than a Sonics boom


 

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