Mitt Romney wants America to make him the next President, and the most compelling argument he seems to have is that, as a corporate raider, he knows how to make businesses successful. Thus, he is using the time-honored (by Republicans, at least) trope that people who have never run a business cannot possibly know how to run a government, conflating the two enterprises without an ounce of substance to the argument. Business, after all, is about profit for the shareholders, whereas government is about managing the infrastructure and defending the nation in the name of all its citizens, and thus, for the "common good," a phrase you will never hear issue from the portals at Bain Capital, nor any other corporation, unless it is a part of their marketing package, and thus, cynical in the extreme.
So I thought, "Self, I wonder how the ultimate arbiter of failure in America, The Bankruptcy, compares between business and government," so I did a little digging. Turns out the numbers are right there for anyone to see, over at the American Bankruptcy Institute, where they do some serious number crunching. I mean, these guys are the best damned bean counters you can ever hope to find! And I found out some VERY INTERESTING THINGS. You see, business gets not one, but two different bankruptcy Chapters - 7 and 11 - (where everybody goes for their slurpees, right?) under which to file, whereas government entities, or, municipalities, as they are known, get one - sad little Chapter 9.
Funny thing - turns out that even having two Chapters, businesses fail at so much greater numbers than municipalities that I kind of doubt having even an MBA and working for a corporate destroyer like Bain Capital can make one totally immune to failure. But let's look at the numbers, shall we?
In the period between 1980 and 2008 (the last year for which fully compiled statistics are available for both categories) Chapter 7 and Chapter 11 filings totalled 13,172,202. Chapter 9, on the other hand, totalled 221. No, that is not a typo. Businesses failed at a rate 59,602.723 TIMES greater than government entities. Sit with those numbers for a minute, or three.
Now, think about this - if CEO's ran every municipality, state, county, and Federal government agency in the USA, with those kinds of numbers accruing to their spread sheets, just how long do you think we, the Boards of Directors of all of those government entities, would tolerate a failure rate that high. Hmmmm?
So the next time you hear Mitt and his Puppies repeat their screed that they have the better skills to run this country than a non-business major, demand that they run the numbers for you. ALL of the numbers. And then, just remember why they call it a numbers game.