Friday, June 24, 2011

Experience, Knowledge ... or Not

So, what is it going to be? Do we demand that politicians - especially the President - have experience running a business before they are "qualified" to lead the Executive Branch? I am tiring of the critics who trash a politician with a weak straw man argument by saying, "He's never run a business or hired people, so he's not qualified to be a political leader." Because if that is the case, then Warren G. Harding and Jimmy Carter were great choices as Presidents. Except they weren't. Often critics make loopholes if the candidate has been a governor ... but what about candidates for governor. Do they need to have experience "running a business" or "hiring people" or "creating a payroll"?

Do people need to have personal or business experience with every issue before they are allowed to have an opinion on that issue? Occasionally, when making an argument about taxes and society or unemployment, some annoying and rather obtuse thinkers will ask me, "What experience do you have running a business? How do you know how tax cuts/increases will affect hiring?" And, of course, my answer is knowledge, not experience. If you get asked that question, here are a couple follow-ups:

You're probably not a climate scientist, but I bet you have an opinion on global warming. You're not one of our military leaders, but you have an opinion on how and if to fight a war. You've got no experience in counter-terrorism, but you've got an opinion on how to win the "War on Terror." You're not an economist, but you have an opinion about supply, demand, business cycles, and taxes. You're not a constitutional scholar, but you have an opinion on the document and what it means in American history. You're not a teacher or an administrator or child psychologist, but you have an opinion on how to "fix our schools." You're not a doctor or a nurse, but you've logged on to WebMD and diagnosed yourself. You've never had a weight problem, but you have an opinion on how others should deal with theirs. You're not a lawyer or a judge, but you decide innocence or guilt after watching three minutes of the nightly news.

Few of us are experts in anything, and few have experience with everything. Yet, we can all be informed voters. And obtuse, thickheaded ideologues who disagree really piss me off sometimes.


Dennis Fermoyle said...

I'm not sure whether or not a business background is necessary, but it seems to me that anyone who argues that we don't need to increase revenue when we have over a trillion dollar debt should not even be considered for president--or for the Senate or the House of Representatives for that matter. But then, I suppose we'll get the old, "the best way to raise revenue is by cutting taxes" argument, since those deficits dropped like crazy during the Reagan and Bush years.

mmazenko said...

Ideology is a dangerous thing. Cutting taxes has never increased revenue ... and no less authorities than Bruce Bartlett, the architect of the Reagan cuts, and Gregory Mankiw the advisor to W., have argued this. It is, was, and always has been "voodoo economics."

Damn shame.