Countries are not corporations so quit trying to run them like they are

Carly Fiorina‘s comments about neither candidate being able to run a corporation is causing a bunch of flap. We want our elected officials to understand how to balance a checkbook, but I’m not so sure we want them to be able to run a corporation.

A corporation’s only goal is to make profit. It is a “good citizen” because being perceived to be so is profitable, either in innate value or real dollars and cents. That good citizen images makes employees feel good about working there and customers fell good about buying from them. At the end of the day (or the quarter), profit is the only goal of a corporation.

A government’s only goal is the protection of its citizen, from enemies both outside and within. Corporations who strive to increase their profits to the detriment of the government’s citizens is one enemy that a government should be on guard against. A free market, unregulated, will result in the greedy grabbing anything they can and expanding out their reach to the detriment of others. Really, the current mess should come as no shock to anybody who has been paying attention to the human condition for the past several thousand years. Read a book; literature is rife with this stuff.

In a more personal context, I am a really good dog. I walk along the sidewalk, I don’t crap in other people’s yards and don’t jump up on the dinner table, even though it smells really good most of the time. I do this mainly because there are consequences for not. Some of self-imposed, like the desire to be liked and respected. But, if there were no consequences at all for my actions, including losing the respect of my caretakers, I’d be up on the table helping myself to the food, crapping nilly-willy all over the lawns and digging up flower beds. I am a dog; it is my nature.

Running a country is the antithesis of running a corporation. Or, it really should be. If not, it should be strongly considered.

When goods cost so much that you have to invent ways of allowing consumers to purchase them, you have an unsustainable consumer market. The recent housing stuff where buyers needed no money down and were paying below market rates is an example. The market simply ran out of consumers with capital and needed to dig deeper into those who could not afford it. The same goes for the auto industry. When the average car started topping $20,000+ and only had a life of about 7 years, the average person didn’t make that much disposable income. So, the auto lease was invented. And on and on. The formula was not about how much equity you owned in anything, but how much you could pay every month to “use” something that you could convince yourself you owned.

Our economy only exists when people buy stuff, not make it and sell it. When the consumer simply can’t afford to buy stuff, we fold into ourselves like a house of cards. That is what is happening today.

People who own most of own homes and don’t have to move, are happy with the car they have the skills to fix, have some cash in the bank and have their health will do fine over the next few years as this economy corrects itself. Those who don’t will be a strain on the economy as we right ourselves. What we need at the head of government is not someone who knows how to wring profit out of a dollar, but how to protect the citizens from the unfair claims of those who wish to take what is not theirs, both from within and out. And that is not socialism; that is just a simple counter-weight to greed.

We already have Bill Gates, Michael Dell, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Carly Fiorina, Meg Whitman, Warren Buffet and Craig Newmark, among others running the corporations. What we need is someone at the helm of government who is a strong enough will to either entice or force these other strong-willed persons to play fair and nice.

And that is what I think Carly Fiorina was really saying. At least that is what I HOPE she was saying. And it is not a bad thing.

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