The Business of America is No Longer Business

This whole “debt crisis” thing has me all out of sorts. Like the rest of (wo)mankind, it has forced me to traverse the spectrum of emotion for our country and government – from fascination to apathy to disgust. Right now I’m probably more exhausted than anything…just plain old tired of hearing about it. So what do I decide to do? Write a blog post: perversion, I say.

One thing is for sure: the armchair quarterbacks are out in droves. Every one has an answer for this mess. It would all be different, for example, if it were up to women to balance the budget. Yeah it would be different, alright. My favorite came from the Chicago Tribune yesterday: the U.S. could solve the problem by invading Canada. What’s not to like about that?

Something just struck me as being conspicuously absent from the debate. There is much less of what was oft the battle cry for the disenfranchised: “run government like it’s a business.” I mean, I can’t really locate any credible source that has even alluded to the notion that our woes would disappear if we could only think like Corporate America does.  And I find that terribly telling…and quite sad.

Why it’s Telling

Because the world has learned – the hard way – that business sucks too. Corporate America has as many poor leaders, drama queens, grand-standing a-holes as our government does. It’s not any better at compromise than our two-party system is. It lives beyond its means and carries heavy debt loads. It manages in an entirely reactive way and doesn’t really worry about getting out of the hole it is digging until it reaches water. It allows the power of few to impact the lives of many. Corporate America doesn’t instill any more trust or confidence than our congress(wo)men do. It, in fact, got us into this freakin’ mess to begin with!

Why it’s Sad

Because for centuries Corporate America has been the standard-bearer for how to get things done. The world’s progress depended upon it.  Because there was a time when all we ever really wanted to do was join a Company and stay there until we were ready to pack it in and head to Boca. That company, after all, would become our family…our provider…our security. There was an immense pride in that affiliation – in the relationships we built – in the aspirations we shared. All of that is no more…or at least it is a distant past.

Calvin Coolidge, 30th President of the United States, once said, “the business of America is business.” And until recently it really was. I don’t know, maybe I’m just jaded. Twenty years will sometimes do that to you. But it leaves me wondering (once again), “what the hell am I doing in this business.”

Image Credit: Brett Jordan (via Compfight)

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  • http://www.change-effect.com Neil

    Charlie – great post. To be honest, I think the western world has had this coming to us for a while. Big corporate failures, lights shone on consumption beyond means and governments struggling to balance the books.

    But I also think this brings about the possibility of something really interesting. The chance to do things differently and move away from the images projected by the corporate role models who have caused a lot of this mess. Thing is in order to do that, we need talented people who are willing to challenge the norm, speak out and to stand up and be counted.

    I can’t don’t it all on my own. Are you willing to join me?

    Neil

  • https://hrfishbowl.com Charlie

    @Neil i’m definitely with you. although, lately it’s been tough for me to see the point. i think we’ve had these chances to “do things differently” a number of times over the years (and certainly in my lifetime), but alas we drop the ball. i have to remind myself that none of this will happen over night and that we have to keep chipping away at it every opportunity we have. thanks for your comment, your perspective, and your you-ness.

  • Anonymous

    @Neil i’m definitely with you. although, lately it’s been tough for me to see the point. i think we’ve had these chances to “do things differently” a number of times over the years (and certainly in my lifetime), but alas we drop the ball. i have to remind myself that none of this will happen over night and that we have to keep chipping away at it every opportunity we have. thanks for your comment, your perspective, and your you-ness.

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