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It’d be just a game if it wasn’t so serious

“Get in the game” was the message to corporate CEOs and other members of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in a recent speech by President Barack Obama. After a series of platitudes and remarks intended to mend relations and make the president sound more business-friendly, Obama’s leftist tendencies sadly came through. Needless to say, I’m less than overwhelmed that Obama has any inclination to actually become a friend of the private sector.

Seriously, using experience as a criteria, asking Obama to address a group of top business people about how to do business makes as much sense as asking Carrot Top to deliver the keynote address at a gathering of the world’s top nuclear physicists. Our president lacks even the most basic of qualifications in terms of business knowledge, unless maybe one counts buying something at a store. Yet, there was Obama telling business leaders how to spend their money, use their profits and work with the government to basically help him get re-elected in 2012.

This is typical Obama style, and something we’re seeing more and more of as his policies fail one after the other: say one thing and do another. Obama’s words speak always, but his actions speak volumes. Not one day after talking about reducing burdensome taxes on businesses, his administration announced plans to double the unemployment tax. Even in his speech he reiterated his unconditional support for Obamacare and his administration’s host of regulations that deter businesses from investing for the future.

Our president seems to have no idea why businesses are sitting on $2 trillion right now. I can sum that up in one sentence. Businesses don’t know what the administration is going to do and they’re keeping that money aside to weather the bad times Obama and his policies are extending.

Our president told the attendees that they must share their profits with their workers and not just keep the money to distribute among those at the top.

Mr. President, businesses spend a lot of money already on their employees in terms of salaries, 401k programs, benefits and in a myriad of other ways. That’s not to mention the dividends they pay  investors — many of whom are employees.

The president also inferred time and again that business and government are “in this together.” Well, I can tell our president that for the great majority, it isn’t because businesses are inviting the government in to help them. I think that’s the main reason business leaders attended this speech — to stay on top of how the government is going to try to manipulate the system to force more strange bedfellow mandates on free enterprise. Surely no one was in attendance to hear Obama’s pearls of business wisdom.

Regardless of the respect I have for the office of the president, I would not invite a man (let alone attend the speech by the man — although maybe respect for the office is the other reason someone would feel compelled to attend such a spectacle) who a little more than four months ago accused my organization of “stealing our democracy” and sent out his administration minions to attack and insult my group at every turn.

But then again, since the U.S. Chamber actually supported TARP, the auto bailout and “stimulus” package, perhaps I’ve read them wrong as well. Regardless of how individual members might feel, it would be interesting to look into just who at the U.S. Chamber was in on the decision making to support those programs. And if the answer is that the group was made up of the kind of folks who pay $5 million for their membership versus your $500, it might be time to look elsewhere to spend your membership monies.

When government and business get together, it’s only for one purpose — and it’s not to pick winners and losers, it is to pick losers only since the businesses working with the government have already won.

And my guess is that this is what is coming: More of government and big business getting together to write the rules to their advantage. And sadly, when that meeting occurs, much like this one, the vast majority of us are not invited. But I’d be willing to bet that more than a few of the folks who attended this farce will be. Why? Simple. The government’s invitation is an offer you cannot refuse. Because if you do, your nearest competitor will get in and use the political system to ruin your business. So perhaps a select few did indeed have a third reason to go.

And so it goes in the never-ending saga of donate, advise and make a deal with the devil. Just remember, U.S. Chamber and those feigning ambivalence while working a deal on the side, eventually the devil has to be paid. And in the endgame where everyone eventually eats their own, the devil has the biggest appetite. At the point in which you’re the only one left, you can’t outrun the bear.
If you’re like me, the answer is easy. It’s time for the government to “get out of the game.”

About
Since June of 2000, Craig Hall has been the owner/publisher of the Grand Valley Business Times. He can reached at 970-424-5133 or publisher@thebusinesstimes.com
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Posted by on Feb 9 2011. Filed under From The Publisher, Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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