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Can a Person Run Company and Country?

October 4, 2010

Reason Magazine had a post last week on a Barbara Boxer ad againts Carly Fiorina.  Essentially, the tenor of the ad is that Carly Fiorina shouldn’t run anything in Congress because she’s outsourced jobs in the past.  Matt Welch’s comment in return?

Boxer, on the other hand, has skillfully averted giving jobs to icky Chinese and Indian people by working on Capitol Hill for the last 28 years. Apparently Democrats think the best way to keep the Golden State blue is by accusing Republicans of employing foreigners.

Anyone who regularly reads this blog knows that I used to live in California, and that I’m estatic that I no longer live there.  Therefore, I really have no dog in the hunt regarding who to vote for, and I’m sure the people of California will get what they deserve from either candidate.  But I do think an interesting discussion arises out of this: What qualifies a candidate to represent the people in Congress?

It’s reasonable to think that a political representative and a company administrator have similar skills, though I’m not sure that’s entirely true.  People who run companies are very good at understanding balance sheets, employee motivation, when to use authority to get things done, etc.  They’re maybe not so practiced at collaboration with a set of equals (especially since they start at the bottom of the committee chain) and influence without authority.  Long-term politicians are usually more focused on polling, influence, the occasional stretching of the truth to discuss accomplishments, etc.  Again, congress members are less adept at taking the lead over a set of subordinates and getting them clear goals and expectations to succeed at a task.  There’s also a difference in focus: lawyer vs. MBA.

So can the two successfully interleave and do the others’ jobs?  Well, any competent person can learn to do either function if they have people skills and an understanding of leadership styles.  I’m not positive that I described a large number of people there, by the way.  I would guess that almost any competent executive can learn to be a legislator, and vice versa.  I do find it telling that being a governor of a state generally makes a better president (both administrative positions) than a member of congress.

So, sure, anyone can be anything.  To paraphrase Phil Harris, if you want to be an astronaut, you can do it if you try hard enough.  It’s more a matter of desiring to acquire the skills, and working hard to get better over time.  Whether trying hard is deserving of a vote over rigid incumbancy?  Well, let’s see what California decides.

Updated: I missed this yesterday while gnashing teeth over the Bengals’ loss to Cleveland (!)… if you wonder at my lawyer/administrator comment above, here’s the data from the campaign trail via Hot Air.

Updated again: Thanks to Mr. G for the link love.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 5, 2010 2:40 pm

    I’m sure the people of California will get what they deserve from either candidate.

    How dare you insult the people of California like that. Most of what they are faced with (in Boxer) is the result of what they “deserve”. What you should wish for is that they get what they need in order to recover and learn good sense rather than what they deserve as a result of backing Boxer, Pelosi, and Obama.

    • October 5, 2010 3:30 pm

      Someone actually got my point… I wish they had better candidates. I’m not sold on Carly from my knowledge of her business savvy, but she’d be the better of the two. If I had time to talk about what good administrators would make good politicians… well, that would be an interesting dialog.

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