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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.


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