When Business Becomes Political
Fred Wilson wrote today about something I've been thinking about, too.
When the government becomes an investor in a business, that business becomes political. We can't criticize a bank for advertising for new customers. How else will they stay in business? Why can't an insurance company reward its top salespeople with a trip? That always motivated sales people before.
But, when these companies take our money, they become political targets. Now, instead of a bank running an ad, it's like a government agency advertising on the front page. Instead of the insurance company motivating its sales people, it's a political junket. And, it's why Congress worries about the cost of an auto executive taking a private jet when we should be worried about how they'll spend the billions we are handing them.
I wouldn't want to be a politician. I don't want to live under a microscope. Most business people also don't want that level of scrutiny. Unfortunately, they're getting it with the government bailout. I really wish we could provide some level of support for the most crucial businesses without becoming an equity investor. Too late for that now.