“What’s good for America” on election day 1988? The owner of a business is in the clothing industry, replied, “What’s ever best for the clothing business.”
It sounds improbable today, but at election time not too many years ago it used to be said, “What’s good for General Motors is good for America”. I doubt that too many people believe that it’s true today. If it were, the only sure insight would be that H. Ross Perot would have a hard time getting elected.
“What’s good for business, is good for America.” It may or may not be true, but it does provide food for thought. Voting for the candidate that’s “best for the clothing business” may at first seem too selfish and too narrow. But on closer examination, good community decisions are the result of a large number of individuals pursuing their own self interests within acceptable norms.
When computer manufactures, clothing retailers, accountants, and teachers each get involved and support candidates that are “best” for their business, the net result will be elected officials that will best serve the entire community. If some groups are more active than others who are “too busy” at work, we run the risk of putting in office individuals that don’t represent “what’s best” for the majority.
During a decade in which small, entrepreneurial, independently owned businesses have been responsible for a record period of prosperity, voting “What’s good for business” is not a bad idea. Profitable businesses employ people, encourage investment, and pay taxes.
What are the issues that effect business this year? The incoming administration and the new Congress will make decisions concerning trade policy, the environment, taxation, monetary policy, and interest rates. Legislation dealing with the continuation of government deregulation and the future of the minimum wage will be written. While national defense issues may not effect your business next month, over time there is no greater concern.
Although the short comings of modern day campaigning often trivialize the differences, there are significant philosophical distinctions between the major candidates. Over time these differences will shape policies that will impact the future of our country. It will effect your business, your life, and your future.
Will your vote count? Despite the rhetoric, we are all smart enough to know that one vote doesn’t really count. However, I hope we are all smart enough to realize that if every man and women that operates a business got out and voted, and voted “what’s best for their business”, it would make a difference, a very big difference. That won’t happen until each of us does vote. So what are you waiting for?
The political obligations of independent thinking business people doesn’t end when they vote. We have allowed for the evolution of a new profession in our country. It’s the “professional politician” and it’s a problem for all of us. Look at most any elected body in this country and you will find two things. First, you will find that a majority of its members are lawyers. Where are the business men and women, the artists, the shopkeepers, the carpenters, the cooks, the teachers, and the engineers?
Are the issues too complicated for the men and women who are successful in other walks of life? I doubt it. Sure, the work of the “law maker” involves legal issues, but that’s no different than in your business. You hire staff and attorneys to do that work. Perspective and common sense are the key skills needed to make good decisions in “law making” or any other occupation.
Second, you will find our legislative bodies are inhabited by too many individuals who have made “politics” a profession. It has been a long time since they have had another job and if they have anything to say about it, it will probably be along time before they have another. What happened to the concept of “citizen politician”? Political office was once a period of service, not a profession.
Experience is a much overrated qualification for most jobs and particularly for public office where you have significant expert resources at your disposal. “Having meet a payroll” in good times and bad is a qualification perhaps greater in significance than years of repetitive legislative experience. It often appears that the most developed skill of many an incumbent is not for governing while in office, but rather in running for office.
If our public officials had more recent personal experience living in the “real economy”, they might be better equipped to understand and prioritize the nation’s problems. If our lawmakers were faced with the prospect of returning from their period of public service to live under the laws they made, things might be different.
Because “what’s good for your business” will be good for all of us, get out and vote. If you don’t like your choices, become one!