The Autocrat is coming under criticism for stacking his cabined with multi-millionaires and billionaires.
In my opinion, that criticism is misplaced. There are plenty of instances of people rising above their class to do what they perceive to be in the national interest. Bizarrely, conservatives often deride these folks as “limousine liberals” when they come from the left, as if there is some value in the “consistency” of pleading one’s own class interest.
But this idea that the country is like a business and should be run by businessmen is one of the dumbest in politics. For starters, the historical record shows that the economy has no tendency at all to do well when businessmen are in charge. Normally the country is run by lawyers, who seem to have an instinct to respect rules, which is probably a pretty good instinct to take into government, particularly if you like limited government.
Our last two “businessmen” presidents were Herbert Hoover and George Bush. Two businessmen: two depressions. Jr. Bush was initially praised as the “MBA President”, who unlike Clinton, got his cabinet meetings started and ended on time.
Remember that? Not for him those endless discussions about different alternatives and what could go wrong. This guy was a doer! Or Decider, as it later emerged. Maybe there might have been some value in a little more hesitation and blue skying?
Here is a passage from a Bloomberg story discussing why the Autocrat chose Wilbur Ross to be Commerce Secretary:
“One of the networks said, why would he put on a billionaire at Commerce? Well, that’s because this guy knows how to make money, folks,” Trump told the crowd.
Historically, the Commerce Secretary has not actually done much. Commerce is supposed mostly to take of itself. But that aside, the Autocrat seems to be under the impression that the purpose of government is to make money or — more generously — that a demonstrated ability to make money implies having uniquely valuable insights into government. How silly.
And of course the lame stream media is too lazy or stupid to pick up on these simple points. (Update: Here is a nice exception.) They either swallow whole the nonsense that businessmen know how to manage the economy OR they criticize the picks for not being that great at business anyway. For example, apparently Wilbur Ross’s funds have not put up great numbers recently. Well, obviously he can’t run Commerce then. 😉
One fund manager who has put up great numbers is Stanley Druckenmiller, and in macro investing to boot. And yet his instincts around monetary and budget policy are among the dumbest you will ever find. I will have have more on the wisdom of Stanley He-Has-Done-Well Druckenmiller in a later post.