It’s time for all of us in business — whatever our political viewpoints — to call out the current dysfunction in Congress for what it is: certain businesspeople using politics to make money and advance their positions.
In today’s environment of misinformation and deflection — where the causes of our collective ignorance are masked in our growing contempt for our leaders — we must look at Congress and the government and see the problem clearly. The institution is not broken, but the idea of collective responsibility and governance is…and business broke it.
We broke it by financing political campaigns where candidates promise to protect our narrow interests. We broke it by seeking to capture regulatory power to maintain our market position and squeeze out competition. We broke it by creating media businesses where money is made by creating self-referential echo chambers that maintain a feedback loop of misinformation that provides the dopamine hit of being on the winning side.
I’m a businessman who helped create thousands of jobs through start-ups. In my experience, jobs are created when people are educated, have access to capital, can benefit from legal certainty and are not preyed upon or squashed by more powerful economic actors while they develop their businesses. The largest problem most people face when creating jobs, or growing their own careers is not too much government. Government is sometimes an annoyance, but balanced against the overall benefits, it’s not even close to the most significant impediment to overcome.
And, what of the business of misinformation? Both the federal budget and the economy are based on math, and math is truth. Did you know that China is selling our debt avidly and yet U.S. Treasury interest rates are not going up? What about the truth of the federal budget? Entitlements and defense consume 83 percent of annual federal spending, and a substantial majority of Americans want to cut neither. Remember the hyperinflation promised us in 2008? Didn’t happen. Did you know that if we had maintained the level of federal employment that prevailed during the Bush Presidency our GDP rate would be consistently higher than 3 percent? The deficit and government employment have shrunk significantly over the last six years.
So, as a businessman what do I want? I want predictability from Congress and the knowledge that the government will not shut down over an entity that receives less than 0.5 percent of the federal budget. I want security that financial markets won’t be roiled by a fabricated crisis over the federal debt ceiling.
I want an end to political brinksmanship in the name of principle that is really just posturing for clicks, coverage and political contributions funded by my peers.
When people say they want government to be run like a business, my response is that it is already being run like one. It’s just not a business most of us are served by.