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Commenter wrong on Obama cabinet
Posted By Editor On November 29, 2011 @ 10:26 pm In Political & Politicians,Voices & Thoughts | Comments Disabled
By Gary Wamsley
Kim recently posted a comment to the article “GOP lies about the financial crisis.” This is what Kim wrote:
2. The percentage of each past president’s cabinet who had worked in the private business sector prior to their appointment to the cabinet.
Here are the percentages.
T. Roosevelt………………. 38%
Hoover ……………………. 42%
GH Bush………………….. 51%
Clinton ……………………. 39%
GW Bush…………………. 55%
And the winner is:
This helps to explain the incompetence of this administration: only 8% of them have ever worked in a job not supported by tax money!
That’s right! Only eight percent—the least, by far, of the last 19 presidents! And these people are trying to tell our big corporations how to run their business? They know what’s best for GM, Chrysler, Wall Street, and you and me?
How can the president of a major nation and society, the one with the most successful economic system in world history, stand and talk about business when he’s never worked for one? Or about jobs when he has never really had one? And when it’s the same for 92% of his senior staff and closest advisers? They’ve spent most of their time in academia, government and/or non-profit jobs or as “community organizers.” They should have been in an employment line.
I found that figure, 8 percent, a little hard to believe, so I did some searching on the Internet to see if I could find out more about it. Kim should have done the same. I did find quite a lot, but I will get to that in a moment.
Let us take Kim’s comments, working from the bottom up. It is obvious the writer is biased. The statement of opinion, masquerading as fact, that the administration is incompetent is utterly unsupported. I would not agree with that statement at all. In my opinion, I too am biased but willing to admit it, the Obama administration is doing a good job considering the mess that was forwarded by George W. Bush and considering that the President is also dealing with an obstructionist congress.
As for the 8 percent figure, it is not true. It comes from a study by Michael Cembalest, the chief investment officer for J.P. Morgan Private Bank. It is doubtful that Cembalest has produced an unbiased study. See “Top JPMorgan bankers hosting Romney fund-raiser.”  The folks at J.P. Morgan have a political agenda and that certainly makes this study suspect. Next, political pundit Glen Beck put his own spin on the study. Buck has never been one to let truth interfere with a chance to bash the president and so it was in this case.
The following article, “Obama’s well-qualified cabinet: Conservatives hoaxed by “J. P. Morgan” chart that verifies prejudices”  outlines the case quite well. It shows the chart that Cembalest created and it goes over each cabinet position. The article ends up saying “AEI’s claim that the cabinet lacks private sector experience is astoundingly in error, with 77% of the 22 members showing private sector experience — according to the bizarre chart, putting Obama’s cabinet in the premiere levels of private sector experience.” Seventy-seven percent makes Obama’s cabinet one of the top scorers in business experience, second only to Ronald Reagan’s cabinet.
Michele Bachmann, presidential candidate with a penchant for wandering far from the truth, also picked up on this hoax and said, “Obama ‘has virtually no one in his cabinet with private-sector experience.’  PolitiFact checked out that statement and gave Bachmann its lowest rating “Pants on Fire.” You can read that article here.  They too examine each cabinet member and determine that this is a big lie.
Interestingly, another aspect of this discussion is whether having business experience is relevant to the job of running the government. George W Bush increased government services in the area of national defense by starting three wars, Iraq, Afghanistan and Homeland Security. Normally one would think that when increasing a service that the recipients of that service, in this case the American people, would be asked to pay more. That would be a sound business decision. Instead, Bush had them pay less, he reduced taxes. Increased expense, reduced revenue = Deficit. I do not find that to be a sound “business” decision.
According to the chart above, (validity of the numbers is questionable) the highest number of business people on a cabinet was in the administration of Ronald Reagan. It was during that time that Michael Milliken brought the economy to it knees with his “Junk Bonds,” relatives of the last crashes toxic mortgage packages. It appears that the “business leaders” who were on Reagan’s cabinet did not apply business principles to running the country … but rather ran the country for the benefit of business. Need I add, to the detriment of the middle class. If that is what having business experience does, I for one prefer not to have it.
It appears that Ayers has fallen into the trap of believing anything that agrees with her preconceived ideas and therefore does not make the effort to seek the truth. In fact, political pundits like Beck and Rush almost never tell the truth. As long as people accept their lies, they will make faulty decisions and come to incorrect conclusions. My experience has been that the right of center conservatives do not have an open mind. Of course, left of center liberals don’t either. As a former pilot I know that the mind is like a parachute, it only functions when open. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all be able to listen to the “other side” with an open mind. I know it will never happen, but one can dream.
Unfortunately, this comment reflects a new reality in political discourse. We no longer seem to be able to discuss different political opinions in an intelligent manner based on the truth. The internet and political pundits make it possible to overwhelm truth with varying degrees of disinformation and the discourse often falls, as it did here, to the level of personal attack. I do not assume that just because one of my elected officials does something that I disagree with that they are incompetent. Rather, I assume it is because we have different views on the role of government, environmental protection or a myriad of other issues. Fortunately, the internet also provides an antidote to the lies with sites like PolitiFact,  FactCheck.org  and the Washington Post Fact Checker . I highly recommend a visit to one of these sites before you repeat anything you receive on the internet or hear on talk radio.
As an addendum, as a 30-year veteran, I am concerned about the lack of military experience in all levels of government. At one time it was a given that most people running for elective office had military experience. That is no longer the case. Veterans are much less likely to engage in the kind of saber rattling that is going on by the neocons seeking the Republican nomination. I find the lack of military experience in the cabinet more troubling than a lack of business experience.
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URLs in this post:
 Image: http://www.berthoudrecorder.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/708_Presidents_Cabinet.jpg
 “Top JPMorgan bankers hosting Romney fund-raiser.”: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/29/jpmorgan-romney-idUSN1E7AS1NH20111129
 “Obama’s well-qualified cabinet: Conservatives hoaxed by “J. P. Morgan” chart that verifies prejudices”: http://timpanogos.wordpress.com/2009/11/26/obamas-well-qualified-cabinet-conservatives-hoaxed-by-j-p-morgan-chart-that-verifies-prejudices/
 “Obama ‘has virtually no one in his cabinet with private-sector experience.’: http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2011/sep/01/michele-bachmann/bachmann-says-obama-has-virtually-no-one-his-cabin/
 PolitiFact,: http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/
 FactCheck.org: http://factcheck.org/
 Washington Post Fact Checker: http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics
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