Do They Mix? A Mixology Report

Do They Mix? A Mixology Report

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Opinion: Political talk among today’s leading business leaders is getting louder and louder as one of the worst elections in our modern times looms around the corner. There is, however, a larger question that this election raises, and that is should business leaders be involved in politics? Do the two mix? The answer is yes, yes they do like a fine wine and cheese pairing. But despite the necessity of the two mingling, Sarah Greene Carmichael a writer for the Harvard Business Review posits the conundrum that within “the US, we seemed to have developed a sort of allergy to the idea of a CEO getting into policy-shaping.” Which is an interesting analogy, and one that is quite confusing. As CEOs are the presidents of their companies they understand the politics of their businesses. They also understand the intricacies of their position, which means that they know how to delegate tasks and manage their company so that they make a profit in the upcoming quarter.  

The Federal Government, along with state and local governments, operate in the same manner as businesses. Our governments are ultimately just one large business, which operates to serve the people and provide the people with services. Services include welfare, benefits for veterans, Medicare, and education just to name a few. The only difference between governments and businesses are that people have the choice to purchase a product, while people are mandated to pay taxes. Both governments and businesses are for-profit entities.

Of course, there are going to be major and minor discrepancies between the two, but the backbone remains the same.

Business leaders are finding themselves drawn into the political process — oddly enough, to try and depoliticize it. This was clear at last night’s HBR’s 90th anniversary gala in New York, where Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky and Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz both expressed concerns about America’s current level of partisanship, and what such ideological gridlock could do to the economy.

Harvard Business Review

Businesses such as the aforementioned companies are trying to rid the government of their inefficiencies because businesses know that they will survive for a long period of time if they keep their customers satisfied as well as being flexible and adaptable.

Lately, the government has been putting its needs above the people it was created to serve. There are too many career incumbents that should no longer be serving in a public office. As a result, these career politicians have created a stuck-in-the-rudder system, which benefits the politician and not the people. Presidents may only serve up to two terms, while members of Congress may run for reelection for as many terms as they wish.

The voting age citizens are responsible for keeping these career politicians in power. However, it’s up to Congress to write and pass proposed bills that have the possibility to change the Constitution in an attempt to allow for member term limits to be instituted. So far, within the 114th Congress, there have been several attempts to ratify this type of amendment but it has been largely unsuccessful. Comments from CEOs and other notable leaders within the business industry have ignited a conversation about what the government should be, and as a result, many businesses have been blasted for their involvement in the political world. However, Carmichael inquires “When has more participation in our political system ever been a bad thing? Isn’t that what government ‘of the people, by the people, for the people’ is supposed to be about?”

Businesses and business leaders are branching out and influencing the world around them. Twenty years ago it would seem implausible that a business could have impacted the world the way that Facebook has been able to or Starbucks. Both companies have been, and are, very active in the humanitarian sector. Roger Trapp, a writer for Forbes, states that,

Whatever one thinks of Donald Trump as a presidential candidate, the very presence on the ballot of the property developer and reality TV star is perhaps proof of an increasingly widely-held view that business people rather than professional politicians are the key players in the modern world. Look at how multinational companies are able to influence a whole host of things that were once the preserve of government.

The mixing of business and politics is going to be continuously interwoven from this period onward. The 2016 election shows that America needs something different to happen, a new type of leadership needs to emerge. The status-quo has done a great job since George Washington was elected, but that style of leadership is dead. Politicians could learn a great deal from the business sector.

Follow this author on Twitter @jrichardson1776

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