Private Enterprise Wins

Entrepreneurs in political office can meet constituents’ needs.

A crucial winner not named on the ballot in the Nov. 2 election was private enterprise. It was symbolized by the election of business executives in several key offices. Their experience and view of public needs provide a sharp departure from the Obama Administration’s guiding philosophy that government knows best.

Among those elected, for example, were Ron Johnson, president of an Oshkosh, Wis., plastics company, to the Senate; Rick Snyder, CEO of a Michigan venture capital firm and former CEO of Gateway, Inc., as governor of Michigan; and Rick Scott, a health-care industry executive, elected governor of Florida.

Moreover, Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), destined to be Speaker of the House and a major political power wielder, is a former president of a packaging and plastics firm and certainly a free enterpriser. He will replace the anti-business Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif).

Private enterprise took the political stage dramatically nearly two years ago in the face of early socialistic actions of Obama and company. It came in the form of Ford Motor Company. Ford was the only one of the Big Three American auto companies to turn down government bailout money. It proved that, although capitalism was being smothered, it was still alive and kicking.

The massive election turnover in the House of Representatives Nov. 2 was widely acknowledged as a rejection of Obama Administration socialistic-inclined policies.

In his post-election news conference, Obama took some responsibility for his party’s disastrous showing. He did briefly mention that “the free market has to be encouraged.” But this comment was preceded by stating that business needed to follow “rules of the road,” obviously set by government.

Even though Obama also said he was willing to meet with Republicans and try to reach compromises, the over-hanging question is whether Obama can shake off his government-knows- best ideologically. It would be like asking a Zebra to lose its stripes. At his news conference, he refused to say that the election results reflected a rejection of his policies.

According to The Rasmussen Reports poll Nov. 2, found that 52 percent of likely voters believed that the election was more a referendum on the President’s agenda than about individual candidates and issues. Some 56 percent said Obama should change course. Yet 66 percent of those responding said they expected that Obama would not change, and instead “pursue the same agenda.”

U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue said: “Today Americans sent a powerful message to Washington: Focus on job creation and economic growth....We strongly agree with voters across the nation who clearly stated that a strong and vibrant private sector is critical to reviving our economy, creating jobs and putting us on a path to long-term growth...”The Chamber represents more than 3 million businesses of all sizes.

Free enterprise was a lonely winner during our hard-scrabble times nearly two years ago when Ford Motor Company declined any of the $17.4 billion the federal government was giving Detroit, Ford immediately “earned the admiration and appreciation of a frustrated and cash-strapped U.S. consumer base,” as Advertising Age put it in a Dec. 22, 2008, article. When Ford CEO Alan Mulally appeared before congressional lawmakers dealing with the bailout issue, he said, “We are not seeking short-term financial assistance from the government.”

General Motors, on the other hand took $50 billion in bailout money. Shortly thereafter, Obama canned the company’s CEO and hand-picked new members for its board. GM has gone through four CEOs in 18 months and continues to lose market share and profitability.

Mulally and Ford proved to Obama that the President’s amateur efforts as an industrialist aren’t needed for American business and enterprise to prosper. “Ford emerged as the sole American auto-maker ready to survive the steepest sales downturn in decades without a government handout,” as The New York Times wrote.

Twenty-one months later, Ford was rolling out new models that matched the Japanese in quality, expanding its market, decreasing its debt and—importantly—creating jobs. It has 200 markets on six continents. In the worst economy since the Great Depression, Ford has earned a profit for six straight quarters without the benevolent hand of the Obama Administration.

Much of Ford’s success flows from the mind of CEO Mulally, who Fortune Magazine described in a March 2009 article as the Mulally method: a good natured but relentless insistence on following what he determined to be the right course of action.

Like many business executives, Mulally’s “expected behavior,” he has described as fostering functional and technical excellence, having a passion for our business and our customers, showing initiative and integrity, and delivering results.

Simply stated, private enterprise is the economic system that rewards firms for their ability to perceive and serve the needs and demands of consumers. Writing about the private enterprise system, Adam Smith in his 18th century book, The Wealth of Nations, noted that when an individual pursues his self interest, he indirectly promotes the good of society. For capitalism to operate effectively, citizens must be assured of certain rights.

Those who are optimistic that Obama will turn more toward the political center should reflect on these words at his news conference: “I question whether on my part I could have done something different.”

When Obama has spent his presidency over-promising and twisting facts, why should we trust him or believe him now.