How About a Businessman?

Roger Schlesinger
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Posted: Aug 25, 2008 1:34 PM
How About a Businessman?

The business of the United States of America is business, and as we await John McCain’s pick for a vice president, we have settled for three politicians among the two tickets—McCain, Obama, Biden. McCain was a military officer before becoming a politician and the other two have only been politicians, which probably doesn't give them the skill set to watch over the nation at this very critical time in the business cycle. If we do not start minding our business, we might not have anything left to worry about. Not exactly a great scenario. Before we go any further, I am not lobbying for any one candidate. I just want a president who understands how the world’s economies work in relation to ours, who comprehends what the governmental policies do to help or hinder our business models, and who has the ability to restore confidence in not only our business leaders but the vast majority of us who earn our living in the U.S. of A. Dealing with corporate taxation, while important, is not the sum of all the problems.

I would love to be at a debate and ask some of the basic questions to see if anyone understands anything about how the nation’s business works. The reason I say this is I have seen Chuck Schumer, the senior senator from New York, grapple with problems in my field, the mortgage industry, and underwhelm me with his conclusions. He understood the problem but in my opinion completely missed the solution. We do not have the time or the money in this country to continue this type of governance; therefore, the presidential candidates must know the following:

1. What are the Federal Reserves two main powers?
2. How do we finance the deficit?
3. What does the weak dollar mean to our real estate?
4. What was the main cause of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s losses?
5. What is the main reason for the record profits in the oil industry?
6. Have we ever solved the farm problem?
7. What was the real cause of the credit crunch? Subprime lending, the rating agencies, Wall Street, bad borrowers and bad lenders, all of the above?
8. What is the correct relationship between Medicare and the drug industry?
9. Are speculators a help or a hindrance in the commodity markets?
10. What stimulates the economy and what depresses it?


11. And the big one: what do you do if you can’t make the next payroll?

Before anyone wonders whether I know all the answers to those questions, the answer is yes and no. The simpler questions have standard answers, but some questions invite a wide divergence of opinion in response. The questions I pose are important because they cut to the core of the nation’s business which, of course, is business. We cannot rely on leaders who haven’t a clue but have lots of advisers. If you don’t know the fundamentals, how will you know the advice is correct?

I realize that much of what I am talking about is subjective, but like it or not we have plenty of scorecards to give us more than subjective answers. They include the GDP, the deficit, the consumer and producer price indexes, the current account balances, the unemployment rate, etc. Not only can we measure our current progress with these indices, but we can consult an historical picture as well. Is it too much to ask for leaders to understand what we do in the business world and give us effective leadership?

We are at a very important time in our nation’s business cycle and we deserve someone who will make things get better not worse. Taxing the rich isn’t an answer, nationalizing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac isn’t an answer, making sure every worker gets health insurance coverage, while extremely important to our citizens, isn’t an answer. Beginning with a new nationwide heavy and light rail system, rebuilding our infrastructure with a strong partnership between business and government could be an answer. We need to stop the campaign slogans and regain a workable vision for America’s future.

This gets me back to the beginning. We are not a nation of politicians; we are a nation of workers. Let someone who actually rose from the ranks be one of our leaders because hard work and knowledge gained from it cannot be found in a book. It cannot be transferred by word of mouth and it cannot be willed into existence. That is why the number one attribute we look for in a leader is experience. I am ready for an experienced businessman (or woman) to be one of our leaders. Are you?