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Business Doesn't Know Anything
They Don't Have Any Secret Sauce
One of the vast array of stories we are regularly sold in America is the notion that collectively “business” has figured things out. “Business” is held up as an exemplar, of capitalism finely tuned and honed by the rigors of the market to maximize efficiency and deliver a product to the market satisfying its demands. Why can’t everything work like “business” works? “Business” gets it right when so much in our society, especially government, gets it wrong. “Business” knows best. We would live in a better world if everything just worked in the same manner as business does — education, health care, all of it.
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Business certainly believes this about itself as well. Business doesn’t need messy politics or regulation. Business is so good at the business of business-ing it sells business processes to other, smaller businesses so they can grow into big business. And in the universe of “business,” nobody supposedly knows as much as the tech guys, because they have taken the already wonderful magical processes of business and merged them with efficient computers and subroutines to optimize everything. Profits out the wazoo!
This is all such nonsense. Business doesn’t know anything, especially at the commanding heights, the highest levels, the peak of Mount Capitalism.
Take for instance companies like Amazon, Microsoft, and Google. All three companies have recently made announcements that they will be firing tens of thousands of people after a hiring binge over the last few years. So, to be perfectly clear, the companies who make billions of dollars selling “solutions” to other companies for how to precisely optimize their own businesses ultimately had no idea how to optimize their own businesses, and as a result are resorting to a blunt object like mass layoffs to deal with the situation?
Or take the case of Silicon Valley Bank, which financed startups and other related businesses while arguing that it shouldn’t be constrained with outdated and outmoded government regulations, only to have pulled one too many times on the slot machine lever. Now that all the money they gambled with is gone, the same government who was supposed to leave them alone is supposed to be on the hook to bail out the overextended gambler.
This isn’t a new pattern. It is something we’ve seen for hundreds of years at this point, and its long past time for society to quit pushing the mythology of business superiority. They are great at making money, often for just a tiny sliver of people, but they don’t truly know anything that the rest of us don’t. They don’t have special, secret knowledge gained by CEOs and chairmen and women of the board waking up at 3 AM to speed read business books. It is a far scarier prospect but more realistic to admit that it is all chaos.
They certainly don’t know anything about running something as important as a government. A government should never be run like a for-profit enterprise, focused on generating money for the elite at the top, not giving a damn about mass layoffs done to please Wall Street so the magical stock market line goes up and makes brokers smile instead of cry. Government is too vital to bring it down to the level of “business.”
We don’t need real businessmen like Mitt Romney or a phony reality TV show “businessman” like Donald Trump running the country. We need people in charge of things who understand that government exists to help people live healthy, happy, safe, productive lives. Sometimes that requires a massive expenditure of funds, to pay for things like health care, education, and a military and law enforcement. Sure, it isn’t always a model of efficiency and things can be expensive, but in a wealthy country like ours that is perfectly okay.
We can afford it and we can afford it hundreds of thousands of times over. We can afford it just like we could unfortunately afford to bail out the banks after they went wild in an orgy of unfettered capitalism and nearly ruined the world. Multiple times.
The fetish for business needs to end. Just because they can dress up their weirdness in nice bullet points or PowerPoint slides doesn’t make them any more advanced than anything else in society. They have spent billions on advertising, public relations, and the like to convince us that they are so much better, that they have special knowledge stored on Mount Olympus above us all and if only we could operate more like them, that everything would be great.
It’s all a lie. Like everyone else, they don’t know anything, and in a lot of ways the people in charge are much dumber than anyone else and got their wealth and power through dumb luck not because they’re better people. Usually they are much worse people and they don’t want anyone to examine that too much, exposing the festering underbelly of it all.
Business doesn’t know anything. We should know better.
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I was on vacation last week and away from Kal, so somehow we have gotten more inseparable since I’ve been back.