Donald Trump

Trump Isn't Running the Government Like a Business

A CEO actually learns from mistakes.

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Trump Tower
Niall Carson/ZUMA Press/Newscom

Anytime a reporter interviews Donald Trump voters about their reasons for supporting him, you can count on one of them to cite his capitalist credentials. The president has "a businessman's approach to running the country," a Chicago business owner told a Chicago Tribune reporter in a story this week.

If only.

Trump is completely lacking in government experience, unlike almost every one of his predecessors. But during the campaign, he touted business background as evidence of his ability to handle the presidency. Never mind that his fortune was built on a large inheritance from his wealthy father, that he went through six bankruptcies, and that many of his ventures (Trump Steaks, Trump Airlines, among others) vanished without a trace. He and his supporters preferred to focus on his successes, which he promised he could duplicate in the White House.

But no competent business executive would operate a company the way Trump has operated his administration. Protecting the brand is a key mission of every company. As plenty of defunct corporations can attest, it takes years to establish a reputation and secure the trust of customers—and that reputation can be destroyed overnight.

Ask Volkswagen, whose managers rigged cars to defeat emissions tests; or Samsung, which sold phones that were prone to catching fire; or Chipotle, which had repeated outbreaks of food poisoning. Through ethical lapses or performance failures, these firms drove away the consumers who made them successful. And the damage may never be undone. Those companies are now striving to prove that they have learned from their mistakes and will do better in the future.

Trump, by contrast, goes out of his way to raise doubts about his honesty, competence and willingness to correct mistakes. His tweets accusing President Barack Obama of wiretapping created a fantastic lie that was promptly debunked by everyone with knowledge of the facts. This embarrassed many of his Republican allies in Congress and drove his approval ratings down to historic lows.

Had he done anything so self-destructive as the CEO of a publicly traded company, he would have been fired.

A key to success in business is filling jobs with good people. But Trump has failed to fill thousands of jobs with anyone at all. He complains that Democrats have slowed confirmation of his Cabinet appointees, but Democrats don't have enough votes in the Senate to block these nominations. Part of the problem is that he was slow to make some of his choices because he saw no need to devote any attention to such matters until after the election. Another is that some of his nominees, being exceptionally wealthy, require more extensive vetting to head off conflicts of interest.

The problem is even worse that it appears. CNN reported that there are some 1,900 job vacancies in the executive branch, most of which don't have to go through the Senate. Even conservatives have chafed at the delays. There is "a personnel crisis in the Trump White House," wrote John Fund in National Review. "Trump has named only 20 sub-Cabinet-level positions, including two who withdrew—a list that includes nominees for ambassadorships, counsel positions, and commissioners, according to a tracker from the Washington Post and Partnership for Public Service."

Sean Hannity claimed Trump is being sabotaged by "deep-state Obama holdovers" in the government. But if the president wants loyalists who will carry out his policies, he has to actually appoint them. A corporate executive who encountered persistent obstruction from top or middle managers would waste no time replacing them. Trump, by contrast, has wasted two months and will undoubtedly waste more.

Most businesses do business with other companies that are crucial for their success—suppliers, distributors, lenders, advertising agencies and the like. Able executives understand the value of proven partners and treat them with respect. Trump, by contrast, has undermined our chief military alliance, NATO; heaped contempt on the leader of a vital ally, Germany; and done everything possible to antagonize a previously friendly neighbor, Mexico. Business leaders sometimes have to fight, but the smart ones avoid unnecessary quarrels with those whose cooperation they may someday need.

If Trump brings any business executives to mind, it's those who ran Enron, a high-flying energy company that was ultimately destroyed by its own fraud. What one documentary said about the people who ran Enron may someday be said about Trump and his accomplices: "It's astounding that they got away with it for so long."

© Copyright 2017 by Creators Syndicate Inc.

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  1. Trump Isn’t Running the Government Like a Business
    A CEO actually learns from mistakes.

    Two whole months! When is he ever going to learn?

    Protecting the brand is a key mission of every company.

    Yeah. Let’s have Chapman school Trump on branding.

    Trump beat the MSM, Academia, the Entertainment industry, the Dems, the Obama Messiah, the Clinton Kleptocracy, and the Republican Establishment. Obviously incompetent with mass communication.

    Maybe the Cosmotarians will teach Trump how he can get half his supporters to turn on him in his own comments section.

    Sad.

  2. “A corporate executive who encountered persistent obstruction from top or middle managers would waste no time replacing them.”

    But in government, top and middle managers often have Civil Service and constitutional protections that corporate executives do not have to deal with.

    Trump’s problem is not feeling to act like a business owner. It is his failure to comprehend that in many ways, a government leader cannot act like a business owner.

  3. Bringing business fiscal discipline and independent leadership to the bloated US Government is what he ran on. He is doing quite a bit in 2 MONTHS:
    Gorsuch will be appointed +1
    ObamaCare might be gutted or hopefully repealed +1
    Sent troops into Syria and Yemen -1 & -1
    Got the MSM, Academia, the Entertainment industry, the Dems, the Obama Messiah, the Clinton Kleptocracy losing their minds every day +1
    Initiated immigration and visitor restrictions and is stepping up deportations of illegals +1

    1. Bringing business fiscal discipline and independent leadership to the bloated US Government is what he ran on.

      What has he done that could be considered fiscal discipline?

      Got the MSM, Academia, the Entertainment industry, the Dems, the Obama Messiah, the Clinton Kleptocracy losing their minds every day +1

      Is this leadership?

      1. A simple example: the amount of money that has to be spent protecting him and his family – because his wife wants to stay in New York, and Trump wants to weekend in Florida, and his children travel the world while receiving protection – is something he can directly control.

      2. What has he done that could be considered fiscal discipline?

        maybe a stretch, maybe not but hasn’t his budget proposal included cuts for the EPA and Big Bird and some other things? This would be better if he held the line on defense, at a minimum, rather than increasing it but it’s not often anyone cuts anything. Hell, it’s not often anyone slows the rate of increase.

        1. Quite a stretch. The cuts to domestic spending are immediately diverted to the Pentagon. That’s not a cut, that’s just pouring the money down a different rat hole. Add in the fact that these cuts probably won’t happen, and the whole thing is clearly more about political theater than genuine fiscal discipline.

  4. As a president Donald Trump can run the government as his ideas. But the people who support him should know why he is doing it for the purpose. we should learn which way he going to improve the economy of country. There are so many people against Donald Trump . The presidents should let them know about importance of doing such things publicly.
    http://insainsolutionsdotcom.com

  5. these firms drove away the consumers who made them successful

    I would be more likely to buy a VW because obviously they care more about their customers than kowtowing to BS government regulations.

    Chipotle got killed by being too woke. And Samsung by being too cheap. Fie on both of them.

    1. I’d been wishing for a Mexican restaurant within walking distance of my office, and then the other day i found out that there’s a Chipotle opening right next door. Be careful what you wish for, i suppose.

      1. You don’t like white rice burritos?

        1. I don’t like pooping half my body weight five minutes after eating a just-okay burrito.

          1. Also, i can never go back to that Barnes & Noble ever again.

          2. I keep hearing this but it only seems to apply to you defectives 🙂

        2. “White Rice Burrito” was my stage name.

      2. I have a Salsarita’s nearby. I like Chipotle better but I do not appreciate them jacking up prices because smug.

  6. But Trump has failed to fill thousands of jobs with anyone at all.

    Good. Also, “thousands”? Just exactly how much time do you think the president has to review resumes and conduct interviews? What is that, like two minutes per position, 24-7?

  7. Sean Hannity claimed Trump is being sabotaged by “deep-state Obama holdovers” in the government.

    LOL – nice cherry-picking. In fact, it is common knowledge that government jobs are largely staffed by leftists who will do anything to protect their turf and will fight any GOP administration tooth and nail – this happens every time. But only Sean Hannity is uncouth enough to point it out?

    1. It’s going to take a lot of sweat, blood and tears to get rid of their kind. I don’t like everything about Trump. However, I will do everything I can to act as a booster for the parts of his agenda with which I agree. Especially shit like giving inveterate progressive bureaucrats the boot.

  8. I have never seen a new President put so many of his campaign promises into action so quickly as Trump has. Granted, that’s not always a good thing, but he’s doing it.

    A key to success in business is filling jobs with good people. But Trump has failed to fill thousands of jobs with anyone at all. He complains that Democrats have slowed confirmation of his Cabinet appointees, but Democrats don’t have enough votes in the Senate to block these nominations. Part of the problem is that he was slow to make some of his choices because he saw no need to devote any attention to such matters until after the election. Another is that some of his nominees, being exceptionally wealthy, require more extensive vetting to head off conflicts of interest.

    This is just dumb. If the key to success is filling jobs with good people, then doing it quickly would obviously be counter to that goal. Usually these jobs are meted out quickly to fulfill decades of political deal making and promises, and Trump doesn’t have all that baggage.

    1. He complains that Democrats have slowed confirmation of his Cabinet appointees, but Democrats don’t have enough votes in the Senate to block these nominations

      The latter clause does not invalidate the former. Seriously?

  9. “A CEO actually learns from their mistakes”

    Probably would be more accurate to say they can be fired more easily.

    Business owners are not necessarily smarter or wiser than politicians, they just have different incentives.

  10. While there’s a lot to be said about a president who doesn’t believe there’s a government solution to every problem, you cannot run federal government as a business. It can’t be done. It’s the largest employer in the United States. It’s known for its entrenched bureaucracy.

    Also, I’m pretty sure Donald Trump isn’t a person who believes in solutions that come from sources other than him or his administration. I hope I’m wrong.

    1. Also, I’m pretty sure Donald Trump isn’t a person who believes in solutions that come from sources other than him or his administration. I hope I’m wrong.

      He does seem to get a lot of information from cable news or right-wing radio, so maybe that’s where he gets his solutions, too.

      1. They’re the best solutions. They’re big league. Believe me.

      2. It seems more his source of problems.

        1. Yeah, it seems to me that conservatives are a thorn in Trump’s side as opposed to any kind of ally at this point. His threat to primary anyone who got in the way of the Republican disaster of a healthcare ‘plan’ should be indicative. Oddly enough I haven’t seen his threats toward the Freedom Caucus mentioned yet on Reason, but maybe I just haven’t gotten to that article yet.

  11. You always hear you can’t run government like a business because the government’s bottom line isn’t profits. Well, neither is a business’ bottom line about profits, its bottom line is perpetuating itself and profits are a means to an end. You don’t make profits and you’re gone and you make profits by delivering what people want at a price they can afford.* You gotta keep your eye on the main goal if you want to succeed and not get sidetracked by secondary objectives. The best car in the world isn’t a Rolls Royce, it’s a Toyota Corolla. The Rolls beats the Toyota in every objective standard but one – that’s the price and that one outweighs all the rest. We want a Rolls Royce government at a Corolla price and that ain’t happening. Stick to building the Corolla, don’t get bogged down in trying to turn an economy car into a luxury car.

    Right now, government’s in a fiscal death spiral and it’s a matter of when-not-if the whole shitshow implodes. Somebody’s got to explain to the people that you can milk a cow twice a day and get a certain amount of milk and that’s it – milking a cow 40 times a day doesn’t give you 20 times as much milk, it just kills the cow. There’s a limit to what government can do and attempting to exceed that limit is going to kill the whole enterprise. You gotta prioritize and stay focused on the main goal, trying to do too much is a sure path to failure.

    1. *Unless you’re too big to fail like GM and then you can get the government to bail you out when you suck at delivering a product people will pay a profitable price for. Which is success of a different sort.

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  13. You can spin “multiple bankruptcies” or letting under-performing brands die as worthwhile accomplishments for a businessman. It shows that mistakes are made in our profit and loss marketplace and that the businessman is willing to pull the plug on failed ideas. Whereas the gov’t and congress would just vote to pour even more money down the failing rathole because “someone’s job depends on this funding” or “my shut-in Aunt really enjoys using the product.”

    1. “My shut-in aunt also really seems to enjoy the smell of cat urine, which is why i’m sponsoring the Cats Peeing On Everything Act. It should only cost $1.6 billion!”

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