I had a great conversation with a high school friend of mine in the car on the New Jersey Turnpike the other day. She is a Democrat who is consulting for a well-known business school and is a female business owner herself. I am a Republican who is trying to build up a moderate voice. She asked why I am supporting Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney in the 2012 election when I voted for President Barack Obama in 2008. I said because Romney will run our country like a business.
That's when she went into a Milton Friedman-esque explanation of how businesses and government cannot be run the same way because their core goals are different. The bottom line for a business is delivering a profit, she said, not inaccurately.
In my opinion, too many voters today think of big business as the bogeyman in this economy. They could not have it more upside down. The perception is that business is doing well (I admit they are sitting on a lot of cash!) because of all the breaks they get from the Federal government. It's true businesses do get tax breaks. It's also true some corporations saw their profits soar in the last several years. The hope is that businesses will lead the recovery by using these breaks to create jobs. And I agree they should.
But, nothing illustrates the concept that "businesses are people" better than the fact that at the top of those businesses are real people making decisions about where to invest and when and whether to roll out new products or build a job creating factory, using the most human of instincts of all -- a gut feeling. And right now, those people don't feel confident enough about the guy in the White House to be doing any of those things.
I think it is really brilliant that Romney, in spite of what his advisors may be telling him, keeps saying, "Corporations are people." It's a way to humanize the "demon in the room." It's also a brilliant way to say, "Corporations are doing well because they're run by people like me. Just think what I can do for the economy as President."
Image via Mitt Romney/Flickr