Market Power vs. Political Power

Critics of term limits on elected officials sometimes say: “You wouldn’t term-limit a neurosurgeon/fireman/[other indispensable professional] just because he’s experienced, wouldja?”

No. But I am capable of distinguishing between economic power and political power — between voluntary trade and policies imposed by force. It’s all about “opting out”: we are free to decline the iPad, but not Obamacare.

A study reported in Harvard Business Review suggests that CEOs who start out as dynamic entrepreneurs, responsive to market conditions, often grow more conservative over time. Commentators debate whether such waning of entrepreneurial vitality is inevitable. Sure, the Steve-Jobs-like exceptions loom large. Nevertheless, we can readily imagine a CEO stuck in the strategies of yesteryear.

My point, though, is that customers, shareholders and/or other company officers working within a market context can fix the situation when evidence piles up that the formerly right guy for the job is now the wrong one. Every day we hear of failed CEOs being ousted, failed companies closing their doors.

Au contraire when it comes to political incumbents. They often snag re-election despite widespread and intense discontent with their performance. (See the 2012 presidential and congressional election.)

I don’t worry when good persons must leave an elective office before doing all the good they can there. They can do good elsewhere too. I worry when politicians become entrenched in a seat of power for decades, becoming more and more inured to the consequences of their actions — and more and more brazen about assailing our wallets and freedom.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

1 Comments so far ↓

  1. Mar
    4
    7:21
    PM
    Pat

    A vocal minority may be discontented but that isn’t enough to throw someone out. It’s why I blame voters first and foremost for those who represent us (or claim to). We may be discontented but not enough to make a change. Low information or low motivation?
    Another benefit I see to term limits is the limit they place on nepotism. Would Harry Reid have been able to place his sons in high places if he was out of office before they were out of college?
    I agree with the notion that the worthwhile person can find another slot. The legislator can run for governor, the governor for senator,etc. If they’re really interested in serving the people, they’ll find a way.

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