The Corner

Two Kinds of Businessmen

Most of us on the right like the idea of a businessman running the country. After all, CEOs at large companies do a lot of the same things that political leaders do: They run big and complicated, but basically stable, enterprises; they make hard decisions in a careful and rational way; they make sure budgets balance; they deal with unexpected situations. They also have to keep a large population happy: When plastics manufacturer Ron Johnson — now a Wisconsin senator — visited NR World Headquarters some months ago, he talked to our staff about how important it was to sit down with employees and hear their concerns.

Not all businessmen operate in a way that lends itself to politics, however. Many of them take huge, brash, irresponsible risks. Some finance their projects with sketchy investments, a process more akin to gambling than governing. We need such men in our economy — where would we be if countless entrepreneurs hadn’t staked their financial security on seemingly crazy ideas that worked? — but we don’t want such a man running the country.

Donald Trump is just that kind of businessman. Whatever genius he displayed in rising to wealth and fame, he has been involved in four corporate bankruptcies since — in 1991, 1992, 2004, and 2009 — canceling $1.3 billion in debt the last time alone. This is not an option for our federal government. He financed the Taj Mahal mostly with junk bonds — again not much of an option for balancing a government budget.

And that’s not to mention another favored technique of Trump and many others in the business world: Rather than compete in a free market, they get in bed with the state. Trump became “partners” with the City of New York to build a hotel in the 1970s — a deal that involved a 40-year property-tax abatement that saved him “tens of millions of dollars.” (Libertarians: If you think that selectively letting people out of their taxes is somehow different than a government subsidy, please spare me.) More recently, he’s had the government take other people’s real estate and give it to him. How exactly would this experience help Trump as president? It’s much harder for a politician to balance a budget than it is for a business to use its lobbying power to get favors from politicians, and the last time around, Trump’s big idea on the budget front was simply to confiscate wealth from rich people.

Of course, bankruptcy and the presidency do share some history: Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Thomas Jefferson, William McKinley. But today, the government is bigger than it’s ever been, and the single largest challenge facing us is the debt. Why hire someone with a history of budget woes to solve that problem?

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Kat Timpf Chased Out of Brooklyn Bar

Fox News personality and National Review contributor Kat Timpf was forced to leave a bar in Brooklyn over the weekend after a woman she had never met became enraged upon learning she worked in conservative media. Timpf, who has twice previously been harassed while socializing in New York City, first described ... Read More
Film & TV

The Dan Crenshaw Moment

Given the spirit of our times, things could have gone so differently. On November 3, when Saturday Night Live comic Pete Davidson mocked Texas Republican Dan Crenshaw’s eye patch, saying he looked like a “hit man in a porno movie” — then adding, “I know he lost his eye in war or whatever” — it was a ... Read More

The Present American Revolution

The revolution of 1776 sought to turn a colony of Great Britain into a new independent republic based on constitutionally protected freedom. It succeeded with the creation of the United States. The failed revolution of 1861, by a slave-owning South declaring its independence from the Union, sought to bifurcate ... Read More

Florida’s Shame, and Ours

Conspiracy theories are bad for civic life. So are conspiracies. I wonder if there is one mentally normal adult walking these fruited plains -- even the most craven, abject, brain-dead partisan Democrat -- who believes that what has been going on in Broward County, Fla., is anything other than a brazen ... Read More

There’s No ‘Neo-Jim Crow’ in Georgia

In the overtime of the 2018 elections, the Left can’t decide whether it opposes casting doubt on election results or insists on it. In the case of the Georgia gubernatorial election, narrowly lost by African-American activist Stacey Abrams, it’s unquestionably the latter. A cottage industry has grown up ... Read More