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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Friday, December 16, 2005

The MBA politician

People often complain about the political horse-trading that takes place in politics. Why can't government be run like a business, they wonder.

Because government can't (or at least shouldn't) ignore or jettison "unprofitable" centers like the poor and because boards of directors are notorious for being hand-picked to agree with the CEO.

Take a look at the reigns of George W. Bush and W. Mitt Romney (anyone for banning the letter W from the alphabet)?

Our Harvard Business School trained CEOs are aloof leaders who delegate the responsibility and take the credit (blame still goes elsewhere, except of course in the Bush administration, where it doesn't exist).

The Boston Globe offers a solid review of Romney's three years as Massachusetts CEO. It is a picture of very little significant accomplishment (despite Romney's absurd claims of having achieved everything he can). And it is slim record because the CEO thought he could get his "board of directors" to rubber stamp his actions. The elected Democrats who dominate the Legislature thought otherwise. As well they should.

The Bush White House, blessed with a compliant, servile board of directors, er, Congress, does have a roster of programs to show their constituents. Of course, those constituents do not live in the lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, or poor urban communities across the nation. They do not attend public schools which have received tougher standards and fewer dollars. They don't work in industries that have shed jobs and safety standards in the crush to compete with foreign subsidiaries of domestic corporations whose leaders go by the names of Lay, Koslowski and Rigas.

The winners in this MBA presidency have been the top one-tenth of 1 percent of the wage earners in the United States who have been blessed with lower taxes and fewer strings on the way they do business. The people who shed "unprofitable lines" so they can fatten up their bottom lines.

And all George needs to do is travel on his "corporate" jet, mingle with hand-picked audiences and spout talking points prepared for him on one-page memos recommended in B-School classes on how to be a CEO.

But back to Mitt. Unlike like his GOP predecessors, particularly Bill Weld, Romney disdained the reality that politics is the art or debate and compromise to achieve results for all people.

The Massachusetts Legislature has its problems to be sure, but it does reflect a cross section of the state. And while the Republican Party in Massachusetts has been on life support for years (perhaps that's why the GOP doesn't support pulling the plug?) a case can be made that the Democrats represent the cross section. Did anyone ever accuse Tom Finneran of being a liberal?

By disdaining the art of compromise (business types call it negotiations) and seeking a hostile takeover of his board of directors last year (and failing miserably) Romney shows the same MBA instincts that is leading the US over the cliff. Recognizing he has no chance of achieving his goals his way, he opted to become a lame duck and take his show on the road.

Thankfully there will be no golden parachutes for him from the shareholders of the Commonwealth. Unfortunately, American citizens wil be strapped with the cost of the foolish Bush mistakes for generations to come.


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