Dear Mr. President, if we are a business, we are a failing one

President Obama says the US is like a business, well if we are a business we are a failing one. Photo: Obama at M. Luis Co./ AP

ROCKVILLE, MD, October 4, 2013  President Obama paid a visit Thursday to M. Luis Co., a road construction company in Rockville, Maryland. After bringing the beltway and Rockville Pike traffic to an hour long halt, President Obama used his time there to preach to those listening about how the most recent government shutdown affected small business in the Washington area and around the country. In his speech, President Obama compared the need for the government to pay their bills to the need of a construction company to pay their bills.

“…The deal is, you’ve already gotten hired; you’ve got a job; you’re getting a paycheck. And so you also are getting the pride of doing a good job, and contributing to a business, and looking out for your fellow workers — that’s what you’re getting! Well, it shouldn’t be any different for a member of Congress.”


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President Obama was comparing the United States Government to a business. Well, if the U.S. was a business it would be Caldor, having closed its doors due to bankruptcy. We would have been Caldor, and the ghostly, vast store expanse we would have left behind would have been bought up by Wal-Mart of Kmart, or Canada.

If the U.S. was a business, the shareholders would have fired the CEO a long time ago. He would have been brought into a board meeting, and shown the door like so many CEOs have been shown the door before. However, the controlling share currently backs him, leading many to believe that if the U.S. were a business, then its shareholders are terrible business men.

The comparison the President made to a construction company was also quite ironic. While construction companies rarely fail to pay their employees, it is common practice among contractors to refuse their subcontractors payment if they believe the work is not being done, or if they are doing an unsatisfactory job. Not only that, but before payment can even be rendered, subcontractors often have to prove that they did the work in the first place. Construction, for the most part, is results oriented. And if the U.S. government were a construction company, it would have entered into default a long time ago. It would have had to cease all work, and it would have had to sell off its assets to pay its bills.

If the United States were a construction company it would have been audited and investigated about a thousand times a year, as it frequently overpays for goods and services and fails to deliver a suitable product.


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If the United States were a construction company it would never get work, because not a single creditor or bonder would be willing to insure them. Making the dollars for every single potential accident come right out of their own pocket.

If the United States were a construction company it would never be able to bid a job in the first place. Because in order to make money you have to win a job, and in order to do that you have to put together a budget, and in order to make a profit a company has to come in UNDER that proposed budget. When bidding work, if your number is high, you aren’t going to get the job, and if you aren’t going to get the job you aren’t going to have any work. If the United States were a construction company we would not have any work. This is boring to you because it’s logic and something you learned when you learned addition.

If the United States were a construction company it would fail. Plain and simple. Yeah sure, you could pay your workers, you could build projects, but you would be operating at such a loss that the bank would quite literally shut you down. You see in business we are constrained and governed by the forces of a free market, we cannot charge more than what we believe the customer would pay. The government has no such restraints; they charge what they want, regardless of what they believe the customer could pay.

President Obama likes to say “the buck stops with me.” As said before in this column, it may stop with you but it starts with us. If the United States is a business, and Barack Obama the CEO beholden to the rules and laws governing a profit making institution, perhaps it’s time we had a shareholder meeting. 


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Conor Higgins

Conor Higgins has a B.A. from Catholic University in DC in American History, with a concentration on guerrilla warfare on American soil. He has an M.A. in US History from George Mason University in Fairfax, VA, with a concentration on Cold War insurgency. He believes that all news and all information should be taken with a grain of salt, and implores people everywhere to seek news stories everywhere. 

Higgins is also a fervent believer in the traditional role of media, in terms of acting as a balanced check on government policies and individuals regardless of party affiliation. But in the end, he believes that no matter how heated an issue is, there is nothing that can't be discussed over a smoke and some whiskey. 

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