Saturday, December 3, 2011

Neither America nor any other country are Businesses .. We are not electing a CEO

Perhaps this is a sign of the corporatization of American government.  That it's the next step after the Supreme Court's Citizen United ruling saying that Corporations had unlimited ability to spend money in politics, and there was surely a step before that which looked like an egregious example of the corporatization of our Politics and Government.  What I'm concerned about is a tagline attached to Herman Cain's 2012 Presidential campaign, where he is campaigning to become America's CEO.

Perhaps he'll be bowing out of the race later today due to sexual misconduct.  But for the moment let's just ponder this on its face.  The Cain campaign released a video today, an advertising pitching a not-quite-accurate line of reasoning about jobs creation, and featuring Cain saying "I've spent a life time creating jobs, and if you make me Americas CEO…" which just clicked in my mind as WRONG.  So here I am, writing about how WRONG this is.

Countries and Businesses are different animals, and most importantly play different roles and have different goals.  It is wrong to run a Country as if it were a Businesses.

I'm not entirely sure if there is a canonically correct list of attributes of companies versus countries but this list illustrates what I have in mind.  Perhaps a debate is in order about this sort of thing to make it clear what the differences are.

In fact there is a debate related to this - happening via the Occupy protests and some other organizations like Slow Money, Slow Food, Transition Towns, Resilience Circles, and other groups where we the people are gathering with the idea to recreate our society in a way that works for all of us.

Are we going to continue living under the government that was constructed by and serves the elite, or are we going to create a government that is truly our common body of all of us acting as a united whole?

Businesses are:

  • Purpose is to be profitable - highest revenue possible
  • Current business practice is the "growth at all costs" mantra that's completely unsustainable
  • Based on a web of contracts where people make bargains for money that remove their rights --- for example employees sign employment contracts that in part remove their right of free speech, because employees are required to not speak publicly about corporate proprietary knowledge
  • Businesses are essentially top-down dictatorships with, for example, Management holding rights to fire people as a threat to keep everyone in line with corporate dictates
  • Formed by getting a permit (business license) from a Government

Countries are:

  • Purpose is to maintain a piece of land for the betterment of the people living there
  • Purpose is to maintain common resources and well-being
  • Collects money through fees and taxes
  • Does not have shareholders - instead, in effect, governments are in the ideal mutually owned by the people
  • Is not expected to maintain a profit - indeed many politicians have claimed that when a government runs a surplus, that's a sign of the government taking too many taxes, and that's a reason for a tax cut (but such tax cuts later cause government deficits leading to government borrowing and government debt causing a wastage of government resources)
  • Is not expected to grow faster than the rate of population growth - indeed many politicians decry overly large government (some of whom hypocritically create massive expansions of government)