What You Do in the Private Sector Is Your Own Business


What qualifies someone for a cabinet position? For the last 100 years, somewhere between a third and a half of the cabinet members in any administration had private sector experience prior to serving in advisory capacity on economic issues. The folks at J.P. Morgan have been keeping the stats on these things, and they slipped this little chart to The American's Nick Schulz. Looks like Obama doesn't consider a stint in the private sector much of a recommendation for his financial advisers.

Part of the reason for the dramatic dip could be Obama's "no revolving door" policy. The new rules aim to keep lobbyists out of his government but may wind up functioning as a screen for all manner of folks with private sector experience on the CVs.

Schulz notes that public sector employment has been below 20 percent of the population since the 1950s, making a 90+ percent public service cabinet all the more remarkable.

Here's what's in the chart:

It examines the prior private sector experience of the cabinet officials since 1900 that one might expect a president to turn to in seeking advice about helping the economy. It includes secretaries of State, Commerce, Treasury, Agriculture, Interior, Labor, Transportation, Energy, and Housing & Urban Development, and excludes Postmaster General, Navy, War, Health, Education & Welfare, Veterans Affairs, and Homeland Security—432 cabinet members in all.

Via Instapundit.

NEXT: Franklin & Franklin's Thanksgiving Special

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. You can’t let the fox guard the chicken coop, you crazy libertarian!

    1. They aren’t too worried about the fox, he’s really not a fox but more of an opinionated chihuahua. We urge the other chickens not to follow the chihuahua.

  2. Well, it is, “Change” at least. Even if it’s a WTF.

  3. Yeah we don’t need ideas based in reality, it’s hope and change people!

  4. My father, who leans left in his politics, said to me that Obama’s biggest failing is that he doesn’t understand the “middle”. He has experience with the elite through school, his modicum of work experience, politics, social circles, etc.; and he has experience with the poor through his activism. However, he doesn’t really have any first-hand knowledge of the middle part of America, the 80% or so of us who aren’t destitute victims, who aren’t politically-connected, who go to work, earn a paycheck, hope our employer or small business stays afloat. For Obama, according to my father, the “middle” is just a concept.

    I agree with this, but would take it a step further. Obama is an ideologue who sees the world through a philisophical prism. Everything is some sort of class struggle. The private sector is essentially some form of jungle in which the strong feed off the weak.

    Therefore, people who have made their successful livelihoods in the private sector do not, in Obama’s opinion, have any great skill or experience that make the world go. Rather, those who succeed in the private sector are simply the best predators.

    Really, the only surprise is that he has any private sector types in his cabinet.

    1. Joe, you pretty much nailed it.

      I would ask you/Dad: Why is it Obama apparently cannot take his concept of the “middle” beyond that of being a cash cow to finance his class struggles?

      1. He did. He gave them all new cars.

  5. Part of the reason for the dramatic dip could be Obama’s “no revolving door” policy.

    Except that he doesn’t follow it. So no.

  6. Because everyone knows public sector experience isn’t real experience. And government jobs aren’t real jobs. They’re all tainted with the socialism cooties.

    1. Da to that, Comrade Tony.

    2. Not socialism cooties as much as success or failure depends on ability, not what your budget will be.

      1. Or metrics other than how much filthy lucre you manage to suck from the world.

        1. So sayeth the “government could solve all problems if only taxes were higher” left!

          1. PapayaSF, I shorten the “government could solve all problems if only taxes were higher” left as simply: The unthinking left.

            1. retarded fetuses

        2. Zero sum sighting!

          1. I think Tony imagines a world where we can all be selfless bureaucrats, endlessly shuffling the resources to everyone who needs it. Resources that were farmed, extracted, refined, and fashioned into products by whom? By nobody of course!

          2. Oh yeah all that wealth “creation” from the private sector. I remember how giving the wealthiest 1% tax cuts was supposed to generate wealth and jobs, how did that work out?

            As if a highway or a public college–let alone the security and market infrastructure that government provides–play no role in creating wealth.

            1. “the market structure that government provides”? Are you fucking high?

              1. As for security, how about the news just two days ago that unemployment taxes rising next year to offset the empty funds today will cause less hiring next year? Some states are looking at a ten-fold increase in unemployment taxes. Some states are looking at less–like “only a third” increase. Rising unemployment tax in a period of overall deflation is going to result in less employment. Is that security? Would it not be better to allow those companies to hire where they can? In many business, fewer employees essentially caps hours of operation and growth.

                I guess the unemployed today can be secure knowing they are likely to be unemployed tomorrow.

              2. Yeah there would be no functioning market without the government there to provide support for it, libertarian fantasies notwithstanding.

                1. Markets exist in spite of government and interference, not because of it.


                  1. PS. Thread Godwined with that link.


            2. The question is, “What role does government play, and is there a better way?”

              The knee jerk government can do it and it will be great is just as bad as the government can’t do it. The problem is the latter has a whole lot of data backing it up while the former is a little harder to prove and support. But there are some examples of the former, just not many.

              1. I notice Tony is absent from any more follow up. Typical of the left; the arm waving emotionalism runs from one subject to the next, while paying no attention to that logic behind the curtain.

                1. Impatient! I was getting my hair cut and buying cranberries.

                  1. Buying cranberries? Getting a haircut? BOTH ARE THINGS THAT GOVERNMENT PROVIDED YOU, I presume.

        3. The quick look at some metrics for my public sector experience.

          How to get fired from the municipality I worked for.

          1) dirty on a drug test and not a fireman, policeman, city hall employee
          2) kill someone, (not applicable to anyone with lights on their truck or car)
          3) be over 70 years old
          4) not have a pulse

          Ways to not get fired.
          1) theft, including embezzlement of money
          2) not doing anything
          3) wasting money (budgeting: spend it all no matter what and act like it wasn’t enough next year)
          4) failing to do your job
          5) sleeping on the job (not fire)
          6) drinking till you can’t stand up on the job
          7) getting blow jobs from hookers in your squad car on the job
          8) banging all the new medics, on the job
          9) taking money for favors
          10) not being able to read (I’m serious)
          11) selling still useful items like vehicles to your business, friend, relative for about 10% of what it was worth
          12) allowing your kid to use impounded cars, after she has wrecked three other cars, that were impounded
          13) fuck it this list could last forever

          The public sector is an exercise in patience for anyone with morals and a drive to do something more than exist. I made it long enough for my wife to get her degrees.

          You can also be so goddamn dumb that you actually spell out “inbeqeen” when I can’t understand what you are fucking trying to convey is “in between.”

          I’m amazed I survived.

          1. My favorite example was 6-7 years ago here in San Francisco. A city bus driver took exception to two guys kissing on his bus, so he stopped and assaulted them. Even in San Francisco, gay-bashing on a city job got him paid leave until the various union procedures were followed some time later. I *think* he eventually got fired, but wouldn’t bet on it.

            1. When I was in the public sector, the guy in the cube next to me made it his stated goal every Friday (the day he was not “in the field”–heavy scare quotes around that) to not turn his computer on all day. Mind you, the only work he had to do in the office was writing reports on his computer. Most Fridays he succeeded in his goal and finished 6 or 7 sudoku puzzles.

              I’m sure it will not make you all feel better to know, despite the fact we were in local government, that his job was supported through a federal funding stream.

              He was surprised when he was laid off when the city hit a budget crisis (in non-newspeak: fucked themselves into the red and blamed it on low revenue).

              And he was a mild case of laziness. I could not wait to get the fuck out of there.

        4. The only way private business sucks filthy lucre from the world (in the absence of help from government) is through voluntary exchange. Government, on the other hand, can just take it under threat of fine and/or imprisonment.

          1. Can you say “eminent domain abuse”?

            Point well made, Seamus.

    3. Having worked the public sector for 8 years and the private sector during that time and more. I can safely say it isn’t really a job as much as a place to go for 8 hours a day, or less.

      With the number of academics in the White House I can’t wait to get my tax return back full of red ink and pedantic scribes about stupid shit no one cares about.

    4. I have a government job. It’s a real job in that I get a pay check, but its not a real job in that I am not doing any work.

      1. I have a friend in the same situation. He’s told of days where he worked 2 or 3 hours out of 8, making him one of the hardest working employees in the building.

  7. Even Eisenhower and Reagan couldn’t crack the 60% level. One would hope such appointments with private experience would exceed the 75% level, allowing some room for academics like Milton Friedman.

    1. Isnt Chicago a private school?

  8. I’ve worked in the public sector (Army) and private sector (mostly shit jobs). Tony, there are definitely a lot of differences.

  9. Y’know, I could be wrong, but it seems like just a month or two ago Reason had a bitchy attitude about the amount of Goldman Sachs alumni in the administration.

    1. There is a difference between having private sector experience and enabling regulatory capture.

  10. Good help is hard to find.

  11. What’s next, putting our automakers’ restructuring in the hands of a 31-year-old with no business experience?

    Oh, wait — already did that.

  12. Or metrics other than how much filthy lucre you manage to suck from the world.

    There you have it, folks – wealth isn’t created, it’s static. (Or if it is created, it’s only through the value of labor). And the rich are those who have managed to steal it from others. Lefty thinking in a nutshell.

    1. –a very small, cracked, empty nutshell.

    2. That’s why all of us are still living in caves.

    3. that’s a pretty good point.

  13. Obama is an empty suit with no brain.

    This fucker really is this stupid.

  14. You don’t know what it’s like out there! I’ve *worked* in the private sector. They expect *results*.

  15. Are we making an assumption that a lack of private sector experience in a President’s appointments leads to increased government involvement in the economy here?

    1. I didn’t see that assumption.

  16. It’s been noted that the NYC council is comprised almost entirely of public sector “activists” and such. Which explains, well… everything they do.

  17. How does this chart define “private sector,” and does it do so consistently across administrations? It’s been noted elsewhere that Obama’s administration has more than 2.2 of 22 cabinet members with private sector experience, but most of that is working for private law firms or private universities. Chu worked for Bell Labs, so that’s private research.

  18. Looks like the graph came from here:…..binet.html

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.