Romney and his loyal supporters love to point out his business experience, claiming that it would make him a better president.
Would it really?
In business, there isn’t all that much ethics. “Business ethics” is really just another word for “not (openly) doing stuff that creeps our customers out”. Business ethics cannot be different than contemporary ethics, because then, the business will lose its customers. But if you just agree with contemporary ethics… are you then really ethical, or are you going with the flow?
It’s impossible to make a moral “statement” as a company, since that would mean losing customers which shareholders won’t tolerate. You have to let someone else make the statement, then you can follow (in other words, someone will have to convince customers that child labor is bad, then businesses may follow suit and stop using it).
Businesses cannot have principles, outside of the fluffy vague terms such as “First class customer service”, “Always the lowest prices” and other things that sound more like advertisement slogans than moral values. A business has to change its model to survive, and it’s natural. After all, the main responsibility for upholding moral values in society does not fall on businesses (although some unethical practices of course should be outlawed).
Here’s the problem: If you spend 30 years in a place with no real ethics, chances are you’ll forget what it really is. Mitt Romney spent three decades of his life being deep fried in business thinking. He might have been like the healthiest carrot in the beginning, but if you deep fry a carrot for 30 years, there won’t be many vitamins left.
Some may say that I’m anti-business. I’m absolutely not; I’m a finance and economics student after all (also minoring in business). This isn’t about being anti-business, it’s about understanding business. Businesses more or less have to act like this. It is their role in society to maximize profits.
How do you maximize profits in politics? Romney, who has worked with restructuring companies, knows that you cannot hold on to a product which isn’t profitable and which no marketing in the world is going to turn profitable. In politics, you maximize profits by maximizing votes. And a position – such as, being pro-choice – which you won’t be able to sell no matter how many campaign ads you roll out about it (the Republicans of Iowa will never be convinced), you drop. Remember, Nokia started as a paper factory.
But isn’t a background in business important for balancing the budget? Not really. Organizational experience is much more important, and while you can get such experience while running a business, you can also get it while being president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, while being a pastor, while running a television station and so on. And, organizations have to balance their budgets as well or they will cease to exist. Being able to organize, making sure you have an organization which can respond quickly to crises and emergencies is very important – just look at what happened to George W Bush after his slow response to Katrina.
Romney was a great businessman (and before someone mentions it; yes he is a christian and has lived up to high moral standards in his personal life) but that doesn’t translate into politics. Based on his record in ethical issues like abortion and gay rights, he has applied his business skills a bit too much in politics. And therefore, I find him unsuitable for the position as President of the United States.