The Party of Sound Business Principles

Thank God we have one, is all I can say. The bourgeois virtues of business are unexciting, and easy to ridicule by overeducated and flighty elitists over their wine and tapas tidbits, but they are admirable and the bedrock of America’s strength.

Live within your means. Neither Wasilla, AK, nor the state of California, nor the nation should run its government on deficits and borrowing for a quick hit of fun spending.

[Note: the California budget forced on the state by its Republican legislative minority, enabled by a Republican governor who as far as I know has never mentioned taxes and services in the same speech, sets a new record in crippling the economic and social future of the state with fiscal fakery, smoke, and mirrors.]

Your word is your bond. The most important quality of a businessman is honesty and square dealing. (Do I even need a link for this?)

Fiduciary responsibility. A government manages resources taken from people by force; a businessman manages resources entrusted to him by investors. Both of these situations impose the greatest moral duty to serve the people and the shareholders, not your personal interests or comfort. For example, your subordinates must be the best qualified people for their jobs, not your relatives; you may not damage the enterprise by firing competent people on personal whim.

Loyalty to the enterprise. Business decisions are made for the good of the business, within a strict code of ethical, open, accountable practice. Even with buckets of money sloshing around, great industries like energy and oil maintain a culture in which temptations to sell out the organization for sex, drugs, or plain bribes are proudly resisted. This spotless behavior can raise the morals of every government institution that engages with these noble monuments to our business culture.

Respect for facts. Real leadership entrusts a nation or an enterprise with the truth because it builds strength and character; eyewash is never tolerated.

Rewards follow achievement. Communists believe people should be paid according to their need; Republicans know people should be compensated only according to the real value they create. Remember, it’s not who you are, it’s what you do.

Author: Michael O'Hare

Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, Michael O'Hare was raised in New York City and trained at Harvard as an architect and structural engineer. Diverted from an honest career designing buildings by the offer of a job in which he could think about anything he wanted to and spend his time with very smart and curious young people, he fell among economists and such like, and continues to benefit from their generosity with on-the-job social science training. He has followed the process and principles of design into "nonphysical environments" such as production processes in organizations, regulation, and information management and published a variety of research in environmental policy, government policy towards the arts, and management, with special interests in energy, facility siting, information and perceptions in public choice and work environments, and policy design. His current research is focused on transportation biofuels and their effects on global land use, food security, and international trade; regulatory policy in the face of scientific uncertainty; and, after a three-decade hiatus, on NIMBY conflicts afflicting high speed rail right-of-way and nuclear waste disposal sites. He is also a regular writer on pedagogy, especially teaching in professional education, and co-edited the "Curriculum and Case Notes" section of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. Between faculty appointments at the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, he was director of policy analysis at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. He has had visiting appointments at Università Bocconi in Milan and the National University of Singapore and teaches regularly in the Goldman School's executive (mid-career) programs. At GSPP, O'Hare has taught a studio course in Program and Policy Design, Arts and Cultural Policy, Public Management, the pedagogy course for graduate student instructors, Quantitative Methods, Environmental Policy, and the introduction to public policy for its undergraduate minor, which he supervises. Generally, he considers himself the school's resident expert in any subject in which there is no such thing as real expertise (a recent project concerned the governance and design of California county fairs), but is secure in the distinction of being the only faculty member with a metal lathe in his basement and a 4×5 Ebony view camera. At the moment, he would rather be making something with his hands than writing this blurb.