Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Danny Finkelstein - Business Leaders make Lousy Politicians

There is an excellent article by Danny Finkelstein in today's Times about the problems with bringing business leaders into government.

There have been a few people who have had some success at both - Peter Walker, Lord David Young, and Michael Bloomberg come to mind - but the list is surprisingly short.

Danny argues that the fact that politicians in Western democracies are seen as weak and unable to get anything done is not primarily due to personal failings by the individuals concerned, but because they are working with constraints which were deliberately written into constitutions like that of the United States, or evolved in constitutions like Britain's unwritten one, for very good reasons.

When a businessman turned politician like Donald Trump gets elected - it does occasionally happen - and tries to "get things done" by ignoring those who opposed him or her the result is more likely to be chaos.

Finkelstein cites Silvio Berlusconi as the closest parallel to Donald Trump who managed to get elected leader of a Western democracy - and I think he makes a persuasive case.

"No successful political system allows someone to act like a buccaneering chief executive." he writes. And when people from the business world get elected and fail it is because they can't see this and adapt.

"And as for politicians" he writes,"They are, as they are supposed to be, a bit like the rest of us.

Confused, ambitious, hopeful, kind, idealistic, pragmatic, self-interested, caring, vain, over-optimistic.

It's not heroic but it works well enough for political democracies to be richest, safest, most tolerant places on earth - and for the best time to live in them to be right here, right now."

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