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Saturday, October 7, 2017

Morons are US: Running the country into the ground like a business

The Trump administration has given the country--and the world--a detailed illustration of how many businesses are run.  For those who want government and public life run like a business, Trump has demonstrated how badly businesses can be run.  While there are benign businesses and malignant businesses,  his have been a detriment to society.

Business corporations are not democracies.  They are feudal states presided over by those who regard themselves as  a privileged royalty that dictates the terms of life for the serfs over whom they rule.  Liberty, equality, and justice are not even in the business vocabulary.   The only word that matters in business is profit.  It is the god to which human life is sacrificed, and which justifies destruction of habitat and moral life.

That is not to say that there are not good businesses which contribute essentially to the human community by providing necessary and beneficial goods and services.  And there are corporations that do run themselves in ways commensurate with democratic principles.  But they are rare.  Most businesses regard the public as a gigantic herd of sheep to be fleeced,  after which they are disposable.  

Most people who voted for Trump say they did so for his business acumen.  His business acumen is expressed through the constant stream of lies which are usually exposed, his stiffing of contractors,  his fraudulent scams such as Trump  University, his insult and abuse of others, his bankruptcies, and his unceasing malevolence.  The one thing Trump excels at is stupidity, which sells well among the greedy and malevolent. It's what makes many people think "he's one of us."

Trump  is a typical rather than an atypical CEO.  While people do question the wildly exorbitant salaries paid to corporate CEOs,  they seldom ask exactly what they do in their jobs.  As  I found out during the years I was a business editor,  a great many CEOs are posturing narcissists like Trump.  They are appointed by boards of directors who want a puppet as lead executive who will simply carry out their wishes, not work actively to make and keep the business vital.  They in turn choose sub-executives who will blindly obey orders and suck up to the CEO.  The power of the CEOs is in creating the image of an all-powerful drama queen whose lavish lifestyle is the envy of those driven by the lust for money and power.  That image is built upon lies, vicious infighting, suppression of facts, intimidation, and fraud.  Much of American corporate business is run just like the Trump Organization and what we see daily going on in the White House.  Trump has in word and deed made the country a subsidiary of the Trump  organization.

Many huge corporations make profits in spite of, not because of their CEOs and upper echelon executives.  People who are enamored of running government like a business seem unaware that 8 out of 10 business fail in their first 18 months.  Or that big business slumps and failures are usually attributed to their CEO.  The fascination of so many Americans with flagrant and ostentatious lifestyles is the most vulnerable weakness in American democracy.  But there are other aspects of the CEO character that undercut democracy.  In carrying out their CEO duties to corporations, many CEOs do things and practice policies that are overtly anti-democratic.

Trump's quarrel with his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson shows CEO mindsets and egos a work.  Because Trump has undercut Tillerson's announced policies with his tweets,  the press has sided with Tillerson as the victim of Trump's nefarious ways.   But focusing on the squabbling misdirects attention from Tillerson's performance.

An expert on international diplomacy has called for Tillerson's resignation.  He says Tillerson has been an "unmitigated disaster at every facet of his job."  A comprehensive profile of Tillerson in The New Yorker details how his business experience gives him disqualifying experience for his role as the nation's lead diplomat.  At a speech at the University of Texas, when asked how he regarded American policies when doing business as Exxon Mobil CEO, he said, I’m not here to represent the United States government’s interest.  I’m not here to defend it, nor am I here to criticize it. That’s not what I do. I’m a businessman.”  That statement makes clear that he won't let national interests interfere with the corporate agenda.

The first reason international relations experts give for claiming that Tillerson has not the vaguest notion of what he is supposed to is that instead of filling key positions with competent people, he eliminates the positions:  

Tillerson’s proposed budget cuts would considerably reduce the number of American diplomats working abroad, possibly by thousands. In addition, Tillerson suspended the hiring of new Foreign Service officers, including many who had accepted fellowships in the expectation of a job. (He has since allowed two Foreign Service classes to move forward.) “These cuts will decimate the Foreign Service,” Nick Burns, a former Under-Secretary of State, told me. “The Foreign Service is a jewel of the United States. There is no other institution in our government with such deep knowledge of the history, culture, language, and politics of the rest of the world.”[Dexter Filkins,The  New Yorker]
The second factor is that as a business executive, he surrounded himself with a small clique of lackeys who carried out orders without question.  When he first was in a situation someone obviously disagreed with him, a witness said.  "“He got red-faced angry.  He lifted out of his chair in anger. My impression was that he was not used to people with different views.” 

Like most business executives, Tillerson is trained in and is a devout practitioner of the totalitarian power that executives.  To him working with people of vast knowledge and drop, analytic intelligence is like dealing with aliens from another planet.   It seems  against Tillerson's sense of politics to allow and encourage abundant knowledge and vigorous discussion.  Reporter Filkens writes:
Some observers believe that Tillerson is overwhelmed by the volume of decisions that he and his team have to make. According to current and former diplomats, Tillerson has centralized decision-making so aggressively that he is unable to keep up. A senior Trump Administration official told me, “Where things fall in the cracks is in the area of management and leadership of the organization, and in leveraging the immense amount of expertise in that building.” Why isn’t Tillerson making better use of his people? “I can’t explain it,” the official told me. “I cannot frickin’ explain it.”  [Dexter Filkins,The  New Yorker]

People who want government and its agencies to be run like a business do not understand that the authoritarian principles of business are anti-democratic.  Business executives such as Trump and Tillerson are not equipped by training, mindset, or personal political preference to operate in a democracy.  They know only how to give orders and sacrifice all principles of liberty, equality, and justice to the attainment of a  'winning" goal.

Business executives and business oriented people are unfit to be in democratic government because they are fundamentally against democracy.

And we can seen the destruction of democracy in the daily words and actions of the Trumps and Tillersons.  

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States