Fiorina Is Right

Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett Packard and current McCain advisor got herself into some hot water for admitting that John McCain and Sarah Palin are not qualified to run a corporation. She hung Democrats Barack Obama and Joe Biden on the same string. But of course, when someone on your own campaign says you are not qualified to run a business, you get a little extra milage out of it than when you say that about the opposing camp. Here's what Carly Fiorina said: McCain campaign is kicking her to the curb, and Obama and Democrats are rightly pointing out that if his own campaign adviser thinks that he and his running mate aren't qualified to run a corporation, how do they expect to run the largest money machine in the world, namely the US economy? But in it all, what's getting lost is something extremely valuable that Fiorina admitted:
Running a corporation is a completely different set of things [than running a country].
This is true. And this is a stunning repudiation of what has been the conservative Republican philosophy on government: that government should be run like a business. What Fiorina is saying is that that is in fact not true. She is breaking down the very basis of Republican economic policy. Let's examine how the Republicans have used the "government as a business" analogy to subvert the proper purpose of government: I. Government Should Not Provide Social Safety Nets If the government is a business, then its purpose is to sell things (goods or services for money), not to provide charity. Social Security, Medicare, disability insurance, welfare assistance, etc. are all examples of the government acting as a social contractor (in conservative view, charity) rather than a business, and therefore all these things should be either eliminated or privatized. It's not the job of government to help people in need because that is a waste of taxpayer money (investor's money) since you spend it and get nothing back in return. Note that military spending fits this definition - since when you spend the Pentagon's money, you are technically getting a good (weapons) or a service (war, contract services) in return. However, the VA does NOT fit this definition. Once a soldier is out of the military, the money spent on them produces nothing that helps the business (government) be profitable. According to this philosophy, social safety nets are bad, and should be eliminated. But Carly Fiorina just poured cold water over this philosophy. Oops. If the government is not a business, the Republicans are going to need whole new justification for eliminating social safety nets, and they are running out of excuses. II. Unitary Executive (An All Powerful CEO) If the government is a business, the CEO (or in government's case, the President) is all powerful. He has the power to institute rules, break those rules, use the resources of the corporation (or government) in any way he sees fit, and he does not have to answer to anyone. Unless you are a public corporation, then you have to answer to a Board of Directors, who can only basically make hiring and firing decisions, and make some monetary decisions. Think of Congress as that Board. They can impeach the President and remove him from office, or control the purse strings. Other than that, the President is omnipotent. Just like the CEO can hire and fire anyone in the company and the loyalty of the management is to the CEO, the President is similarly in charge of hiring and firing cabinet officers, and those officers are loyal not the country but the President. Barring a Congressional prohibition of funds, the President can deploy any resources, including the military, in any way he sees fit. Again, Carly Fiorina, just by her simple statement that a country is not a corporation, just delegitmized the unitary executive as well. Oops again. What, then? What happens when the theory that government should be run like a business falls apart? Then you are left with the original purpose of our government:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Hah! Who would have thought that the purpose of our government is spelled out in... the... Constitution? Guess what? It also turns out that the President is not a CEO. He can't do whatever he damn well pleases. He has to follow the law, and recognize that his is simply one out of three co-equal branches of government and his power is not limitless. It is checked by the other two. Suddenly, there is no more unitary executive. Suddenly, you have people asking questions about what the proper role of government should be, if it's not simply a giant corporations. Suddenly you have people asking for a government FOR the people. Suddenly you have people demanding that the government work for them, provide social safety nets for when times get rough and provide regulations to even the playing field of the free market. Suddenly, the quintessential governing philosophies of conservatism are endangered. Suddenly, the government is no longer a corporation. It is a public trust.