Bush as MBA


In my lifetime there’s been at least three eras of disaster bought to America courtesy of ivy league MBA programs.  Bush epitomized all three of them in his delusional farewell speech.

Era 1: Quality is Commodity.  During the 70’s the ivy league MBA’s noticed that if a company had a reputation for quality, the reputation survived the elimination of quality, at least for as long as it took the executives to cash out.  So Sears Craftsmen tools, known for being tightly made miniatures of the workhorses used by pros, turned into ill fitting, inaccurate, pieces of cr*p.  And you’ve already heard me go on too much about the junk produced by the US automakers in the 70’s and 80’s.  Essentially the MBA’s discovered Issac Newton – an object in motion will continue on its path unless acted upon by external influences.  So they did their studies and saw that the momentum of sales was preserved for a few years despite substituting junk for quality.  Bush’s take?  The US stands for freedom, justice and liberty around the world.  But eight years have passed and only the true believers see Bush as doing anything but trashing those values.

Era 2: CEO’s as Decision Makers.  This is perhaps the most ass-k*ssing era of the Harvard MBA elite.  For a decade they were hired by CEO’s to massage their egos.  What they came up with was ingenious (as far as ass-k*ssing goes): The greatest CEO’s were those that made decisions most resolutely.  That what the CEO was needed for was to take action.  This sounds reasonable, but of course what the greatest CEO’s did was to take EFFECTIVE action.  To make GOOD, WELL INFORMED decisions.  Bush’s take: That he should get credit for “making tough decisions”.  But that’s absurd.  Any president makes tough decisions.  In fact, only tough questions reach the president.  The true measure is: did he make good decisions?  Did he inform himself of all the relevant details and cut throught the BS?  The answer is, of course, absolutely no.  It is as if an NFL running back wanted you to remember him positively because he had been given the football in tough circumstances.  But we rate running backs on yards gained, not just for showing up on the field.

Era 3: The worship of the elite.  OK, this one didn’t show up much in the speech, other than his pathetic thanking of Dick Cheney. But if you are a Harvard business school prof, and want to guarantee continued lucrative consulting jobs, worshiping the business elite and denigrating the regulators is the way to go.  So when Dick Cheney bragged early on about the number of executives from Enron that were in the administration (yes, he really did) or blasted government regulators for trying to slow down the ‘innovations’ of the financial industry, he was just building on the belief propagated in those ivy league schools that the state school educated regulators were just unable to understand the genius of the Bernie Madoff’s, and should just get out of their way.  And although it is probably true that the most talented people go into the making money side of the business, it is also true that an NFL ref can call a personal foul even if he can’t stop a 320 pound lineman dead in his tracks.


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