Editor's note: This letter was originally published five years ago today.
Run it like business
A lot of people think we should run government like a business. It seems so simple. Businesses sell things, pay their expenses, hopefully make a profit. Government takes in taxes, provides services (national defense, police, roads maybe), hopefully breaks even. But government is not like a business.
Recently, Donald Trump said that as a businessman, housing bubbles are good. In 2008, if you shorted the housing market, you were a genius and made a fortune. But if you are the president in 2008, and millions of your citizens are underwater on their loans and quit making mortgage payments, and banks and mortgage companies have no income and quit loaning money to other businesses, you have a panic and the making of a great depression. Unless the government takes measures. Drastic measures. Seven-hundred-billion- dollar measures, to save American banks and, by extension, the world economy.
So governing is different than being a yugely successful businessman.
Full disclosure: I've never set foot in an economics classroom. Nor government. Yet I hope I've explained it clearly enough. Trump doesn't know what he doesn't know. Sadly, neither do his supporters.