In De-fence of Obama’s Cabinet
Now, this man, Tim Panogos, says this in response to “The “J. P. Morgan” chart from AEI” chart which is going around the internet purports to show business world experience for our current cabinet as compared to past cabinets. I have no idea as to the veracity of previous cabinet rankings. Nor do I really know much about the real resumes of any of the people listed below. I only have what Tim Panogos says. And he says the chart “is a hoax.”
OK, so let’s look at what Tim says is the business world experience of the cabinet we have. My comments in bold.
Tim provides: “ Here’s the cabinet, listed in succession order, with their private sector experience; members were listed from the White House website; biographical data were taken from Wikipedia, supplemented by official departmental biographies:” I trust Tim! Heh, heh. And the percentages are his, too, only the bold is mine
- Vice President Joe Biden – Private experience: Yes. 4.5% of the cabinet. Biden’s father worked in the private sector his entire life — unsuccessfully for a critical period. What on earth does his father’s resume have to do with Joe’s? When does anyone put on their resume what their father did? Biden attended a private university’s law school (Syracuse) Every university is vastly funded by tax dollars in one way or the other, and few, if any, are wholly funded by students paying a tuition which covers 100% of the operating costs of the university. To call a university “private” when it survives on public dollars is a bit of a stretch. … and operated a successful-because-of-property-management law practice for three years before winning election to the U.S. Senate. What on earth is a “because-of-property-management law practice” — never heard the term, never saw it written before. But still, three years in a law practice is his sole “private” experience making and selling things – oh no, that’s right, he was a lawyer, reading books and arguing issues. (I regard a campaign as a private business, too — and Biden’s first campaign was masterful entrepreneurship.) Tim thinks convincing people to put you in a position to tax their money is a job? Thus, by logic, a panhandler is gainfully employeed. And what was he making? Words. And what was he selling? Himself. And what was his product? Himself. My, what an entrepreneur indeed, to sell oneself into the lap of luxury on other people’s money. Indeed, he had to rely on campaign donations – and donations are not prices which are set by costs and a reasonable profit. And what profit did Joe earn? That’s what private businesses do, they earn a profit. What was Joe’s profit? 40 years living off the public. It’s just a higher form of welfare, really.
- Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton – Private experience: Yes, significant. 9% of the cabinet. Extremely successful private practice lawyer in Arkansas for the Rose Law Firm, Yes, in a small southern state this brilliant woman worked her way to the top of the pile in the fanciest law firm in town because of her prowess in being married to the governor. Would anyone believe that Mrs. Clinton was hired purely because of what she knew? Or was it part who she knew, and knew very well indeed. In bigger cities we have bridges to sell. … one of the “Top 100 Lawyers” in a classicly dog-eat-dog business. Oh sure, no reason to dis the governor’s wife, far better to put her on the list somewhere – and if Tim knew she was on the list, why not just go ahead and tell us whether she was say, 10 or 90? Com’n Tim, give us the facts.
- Secretary of Treasury Tim Geithner – Private experience: Yes, significant. 13.6% of the cabinet (The chart’s error is established in the first three people checked — surely no one bothered to make a serious count of the cabinet in compiling the chart.) Geithner traveled with world with his Ford Foundation-employed father. What difference does it make if he traveled the world with his father? How old was he when he did this? Did he run after Euro damsels in distress at his ugly American advances or was he diligently at the meetings with dad? And the Ford Foundation makes nothing, but spends the money that a certain car company makes. But how is it remotely relevant to his ability to be Tresury Secretary? He graduated from private universities, with an A.B. from Dartmouth and an M.A. in economics from Johns Hopkins. So did so many guys and gals who actually worked making something, he was not the only one with this – and how is earning a degree “real world business experience?” It is merely earning a degere. The homeless shelters of America are filled with degreed savants. Starting his career, he worked three years in the private sector with Kissinger Associates. He had but three years with a whatever firm. What did they make? After significant positions at Treasury and State Departments, Government. he again ventured into the private sector with the Council on Foreign Relations; What on earth? The CFR is a rich man’s club, some would call it a rich man’s conspiracy club, but that’s neither here nor there because the CFR does not earn profits. It is a non-profit private club. It makes nothing, ships nothing, nor takes raw materials and parts and pieces and assemble them into anything useful … trom their [sic, really] he moved to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York — in what is at worst a semi-public organization. Gotta’ laugh to think that the Federal Reserve Board is semi-public – and shouldn’t that be semi-private if you are touting private experience? But really, semi? Running a Federal Reserve Branch is among the most intensive jobs one can have in private sector economics and management. There Tim goes again – monitoring private sector performance is not working in the private sector. Writing reports about what other people have done is not really productive work that adds anything to the quality of life of any American, especially when the Fed seems not to have a clue about what to do. If an analyst at a bank named after J. P. Morgan didn’t understand that, one wonders just what the person does understand. This gratuitous attack at unnamed analysts is not a good way to promote the resume of any man.
- Secretary of Defense Robert Gates – Private sector experience: Yes, at high levels. YES Tim says and then in every word refutes his own Yes: (it really is awe inspiring to see such a complete refutation of one’s own Yes.) 18% of the cabinet. Bob Gates spent a career with the Central Intelligence Agency, finally as Director of Central Intelligence, an executive level position with no equal in private enterprise. He retired in 1993, and then worked in a variety of university positions, and joined several different corporate boards; in 1999 he was appointed interim Dean of the George W. Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M, and was appointed President of Texas A&M in 2002, where he served until his appointment as Secretary of Defense in 2006. Yes, not one hour in a private company and personally involved in making anything ever.
- Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr – Private sector experience: Yes, significant. 23% of the cabinet, total. After a sterling career in the Justice Department, as a Ronald Reagan appointment to be a federal judge, as a U.S. Attorney, and again at the Justice Department, Holder spent eight years representing high profile private clients at Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C. His clients included the National Football League, the giant pharmaceutical company Merck, and Chiquita Brands, a U.S. company with extensive international business.
- Secretary of Interior Kenneth L. Salazar – Private sector experience: Yes. 27% of Obama cabinet. Besides a distinguished career in government, as advisor and Cabinet Member with Colorado Gov. Roy Romer, All government Salazar was a successful private-practice attorney from 1981 to 1985, Four Years a lawyer does not a capitalist make. and then again from 1994 to 1998 when he won election as Colorado’s Attorney General. Government As Senator, Salazar maintained a good voting record for a Republican business-supporting senator; Government Salazar is a Democrat. Salazar’s family is in ranching, Ah, as an owner of a biohazard spewing manure pit or as a ranchero pushing cows into stalls? Not to mention, how is one’s famly relative to one’s resume? My mother was a nurse – and I therefore qualified to direct nurses around the hospital? And what did young Kenny do down on the ranch? Did he run it? What did he make for profit? Fat cows for market? A green house gas producer in charge of our Interior itself? The horrors! and he is usually listed as a “rancher from Colorado,” Yes, perhaps, but was he a rancher or did his father and uncle own a ranch? with life experience in the ranching business at least equal to that of former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Conner. Well, a Republican woman whose father owned a ranch but who herself went off to law school and a career in government is touted as a paradigm of ranch handiness. Palin is quite the outdoorswoman too, I wonder if Salazar is at least equal to the former governor in oh, sausaging a moose?
- Secretary of Agriculture Thomas J. Vilsack – Private sector experience: Yes, signficant. 32% of Obama cabinet. Vilsack spent 23 years in private practice as an attorney, 1975 to 1998, while holding not-full-time elective offices such as mayor and state representative. So, for many years, if not all of his experience as a lawyer he was a politician. Hmmm, a vast private business making what? How many ounces of iron and pounds of wood did he have to machine into a widget to be attached to a framis that was conjoined to the hickle that is on the car he drove home? He joined government as Governor of Iowa in 1998, and except for two years, has been in employed in government since then.
- Secretary of Commerce Gary F. Locke – Private sector experience: Yes, significant. 36% of Obama cabinet. As near as I can determine, Why not call his office to find out? Locke was in private law practice from 1975 A lawyer makes what? He fabricates what? He sells what? He ships, receives, plans, allocates space in a factory for? Hires whom? Deals with what union? Has OSHA and EPA and Water and Sewage and whomever else wants to poke around? Hmm, vast experience arguing, that’s experience indeed on the factory floor, at the loading dock, in the mill and at the trade show competing against a dozen other guys hawking a very similar product to your own and engaged in commerce. through his election as Executive in King County in 1993 (is that a full-time position?). Hmm, 2 million people in Seattle and Suburbs in King County – hmmn, and did he look at the website of the county and see how the executive of any county in America is a full time position? He was elected Governor of Washington in 1996. After leaving office in 2005, he again worked in private practice with Davis Wright Tremaine, LLP, Oh yeah, ex-governor as lawyer down at the courthouse filing motions in divorce cases, I’m sure. until 2009. 22 years in private practice, three years as Executive of King County, eight years as Governor of Washington.
- Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis – Private sector experience: Yes, but I consider it insignificant. 36% of Obama cabinet with private sector experience, 4.5% without. Solis’s father was a Teamster and union organizer who contracted lead poisoning on the job; her mother was an assembly line worker for Mattel Toys. Can anyone anywhere say that they put their father and mother on their resume? What audacity indeed, Tim. She overachieved in high school and ignored her counselor’s advice to avoid college, and earned degrees from Cal Poly-Pomona and USC. Oh, that’s private sector experience indeed. She held a variety of posts in federal government before returning to California to work for education and win election to the California House and California Senate, and then to Congress. Insignificant? How about invisible?
- Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius – Private sector experience: Yes, significant. 41% of Obama cabinet with private sector experience, 4.5% without. Former Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius worked in the private sector for 12 years, at least nine years as director and lobbyist for the Kansas Association for Justice (then Kansas Trial Lawyers Association). Working as a lawyer lobbyist for lawyers has what to do with Health and Human Services? How did one moment of her 12 years in this field equip her to understand health and human services? One might understand why the American Enterprise Institute would not count as “business experience” a career built on reining in insurance companies, as Sebelius did as a lobbyist and then elected Kansas Insurance Commissioner. No, I don’t think a chimp would count as “business experience” destroying business, dictating to businesses you don’t own, impeding businesses, suing businesses, wrecking busienss, taxing and regulating businesses. Now, if she had started her own pure and angelic insurance company that did nothing so evil as to require regulation she might well have beat out the competition which by this very admission was not doing a good job for their customers. She clearly said she had a better way – and then did nothing to implement it except to limit what other people were doing. No, that’s not private at all, that’s coercion.
- Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun L.S. Donovan – Private sector experience: Yes, only 4 years, but significant because it bugs AEI analysts so much. Something is significant because it bugs someone else? What? How about Miss Muffett’s fear of spiders which sat down beside her was a significant private enterprise activity in tuffett making. 4% of cabinet with private sector experience, 4.5% without. With multiple degrees from Harvard University in architecture and public administration, Donovan was Deputy Assistant Secretary of HUD for Multifamily Housing during the Clinton Administration; and he was Commissioner of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD). Government. In the private sector, he worked for the Community Preservation Corporation, a non-profit in New York City, Government funded and compliant to the will of power and he worked for a while finding sources to lend to people to buy “affordable housing” in the city, a task perhaps equal to wringing blood from a block of granite. Oh, yes, well, taxing people has always been rough. Every leader has dealt with it in his own way. But none, not in my study of history, ever thought to say that they had private sector experience (in the lingo of their time) because they beg, borrowed and perhaps obtained by hook or by crook money from person A to give to person B because you, person C thought it was simply a grand idea. Not even Marie Antoinette tried that one.
- Secretary of Transportation Raymond L. LaHood – Private sector experience: No (not significant); school teacher at Holy Family School in Peoria, Illinois. [As a teacher, I’m not sure that teaching should count as government experience, but it’s not really private sector stuff, either. No, it’s government, the government owns the schools and sets the rules for those few it doesn’t, even for home schooling it sets the rules, it’s govenrment. Look, there, the elephant in the room. And how does a teacher no so much about transportation? And a presumably elementary school teacher, my what he must now about airports and highways, bridges and tunnels, Why the children tell him so, and his father drove down a pike one day to a bridge that crossed a river. Education isn’t as wasteful as for-profit groups.] 45% of cabinet with private sector experience, 9% without. Ironically, it is the Republican former Representative who pulls down the private sector experience percentage in the Obama cabinet. Oddly, he’s part an parcel of the rest, hence working people TEA parties.
- Secretary of Energy Steven Chu – Private sector experience: Yes, extremely significant. 50% of cabinet with private sector experience, 9% without. Chu worked at Bell Labs, where he and his several co-workers carried out his Nobel Prize-winning laser cooling work, from 1978 to 1987. For 11 years he was locked in a lab making what? Oh, lasers, yes, well, they can scan things at the market now. Having won a Nobel for private sector work, he won a nobel for science, not for Private sector activity, for he would have won it had he worked for the govenrment which I’m sure, has never, no, not once, put a dime into a grant to Bell Labs, not that it was founded by a company that was granted a monopoly and had a guranteed profit, even during the time he worked there. Hmm, no government there. I think we can count his private sector experience as important. Chu also headed the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, which is seeded by a government contract to a university but must operate as a very highly-regulated business. Nothing so private as a highly regulated busienss funded by the government. (I’ll wager Chu is counted as “no private sector experience,” which demonstrates the poverty of methodology of the so-called “J. P. Morgan” study AEI claims.)
- Secretary of Education Arne Duncan – Private sector experience: Yes, significant. 55% of cabinet with private sector experience, 9% without. Duncan earned Academic All-American honors in basketball at Harvard. Yes, basketball qualifies someone to run a multibillion dollar behemoth for all education in the nation: His private sector is among the more unusual of any cabinet member’s, and more competitive. Duncan played professional basketball: “From 1987 to 1991, Duncan played professional basketball in Australia with the Eastside Spectres of the [Australian] National Basketball League, and while there, worked with children who were wards of the state. He also played with the Rhode Island Gulls and tried out for the New Jersey Jammers.” Since leaving basketball he’s worked in education, about four years in a private company aiming to improve education. Ah, so four years of private sector experience in a sector so heavily dependent on government and forced to do its bidding at every turn is private experience. Yes, and no doubt that private company was either trying to get out of the maw of government and could not, or was so stuck in the trough that it could not be pried out. No word on which Tim? Why’s that?
- Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki – Private sector experience: Yes, but to give AEI and “Morgan” a chance, we won’t count it. 55% of cabinet with private sector experience, 13.6% without. Shinseki is a retired, four-star general in the army, a former Chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Government for sure. While Shinseki served on the boards of a half-dozen corporations, all of that service was in the six years between his official retirement and his appointment as Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Oh, yes, his board experience was very relative to actually running the companie rather than to be the famous general on the board of said company that gave access to government. Can you say revoling door Tim?
- Secretary of Homeland Security Janet A. Napolitano – Private sector experience: Yes, significant. 59% of cabinet with private sector experience, 13.6% without. After a brilliant turn in law school at the University of Virginia, and a clerking appointment with a federal judge, Napalitano joined the distinguished Phoenix firm Lewis & Roca, where she practiced privately for nine years Nine years as a lawyer is certainly much experience for running the Coast Guard and the airports and the water ports, and no doubt she got much port experience out there in Phoenix, now that the seas have risen. before Bill Clinton appointed her U.S. Attorney for Arizona. AEI probably doesn’t want to count her private sector experience because, among other irritations to them, she was the attorney-advisor to Prof. Anita Hill during her questioning by the Senate Judiciary Committee on the issue of Clarence Thomas’s nomination to be Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Yes, well, helping a government funded professor go after a government funded, um, academic on the way to a government job while working for some government funded attack team of attorney advisors is certainly a job producing taxpaying entity.
- White House Chief of Staff Rahm I. Emanuel – Private sector experience: Yes, significant. 64% of cabinet with private sector experience, 13.6% without. Emanuel’s major private sector experience is short, but spectacular. “After serving as an advisor toBill Clinton, in 1998 Emanuel resigned from his position in the Clinton administration and became an investment banker atWasserstein Perella (now Dresdner Kleinwort), where he worked until 2002. Oh yea, having a well connected ex-Clintonian is of course a great help in making, how do they say, rain, but jobs? In 1999, he became a managing director at the firm’s Chicago office. Emanuel made $16.2 million in his two-and-a-half-year stint as a banker – why how successful, and not a penny due to connections at the trough of ex-Clintonians no doubt according to Congressional disclosures. At Wasserstein Perella, he worked on eight deals, including the acquisition by Commonwealth Edison of Peco Energy now too big to fail I’d guess. the purchase by GTCR Golder Rauner of the SecurityLink home security unit from SBC Communications.” J. P. Morgan and AEI wish that Emanuel had not had such smashing success is such a short time. I don’t think that any investment bank would complain about an investment banker making investments he could bank on, perhaps it was the cushy deal because of the Clinton connection? Beats me. I can’t assign motives to people I never met.
- Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson– Private sector experience: No, significant. 64% of cabinet with private sector experience, 18% without. Despite a brilliant clear cleaning up environmental messes, with EPA and the New Jersey State government, Jackson has negligible private sector experience. She was a brilliant student, valedictorian in high school and honors graduate in chemical engineering. Oooh, a valedictorian in highschool has tons of environmental experience. To use highschool wonders as a claim to be qualified as EPA Administrator is a bit odd, no? I can see a highschool grad today getting a job as a manager of a 2,000 employee factory making something, yes, I can, for I had a dream of hope and audacity.
- Office of Management & Budget Director Peter R. Orszag – Private sector experience: Yes, short but significant. 68% of cabinet with private sector experience, 18% without. Orszag is the youngest member of the cabinet, but he had a brilliant academic career (Princeton, London School for Economics) and a series of tough assignments in the Clinton Administration. During the Bush years he founded an economic consulting firm, and sold it, and worked with McKinsey and Company, mostly on health care financing (he’s a member of the National Institute of Medicine in the National Academies of Science). And he made what? He marketed what? Sold what? Managed what factory? Did what retail? Oh, he consulted.
- U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Ronald Kirk – Private sector experience: Yes, long and significant. 73% of cabinet with private sector experience, 18% without. Son of a postal worker, Again with the dad? I had three uncles who were postmen, I guess I can be the US trade rep, wow!. Ron Kirk used academic achievement to get through law school. Um, that’s what anyone does, we all use academic achievement to get through school He practiced privately for 13 years, interspersed with a bit of political work, before being appointed Texas Secretary of State in 1994 — the office that most businesses have most of their state regulatory action with. Yes, regulation is certainly a private sector activity, no doubt. About a year later he ran for and won election as Mayor of Dallas, considered a major business post in Texas. A mayor as business? In a state with no corporate income tax? Seriously? Re-elected by a huge margin in 1999, he resigned to run for the U.S. Senate in 2002. After losing (to John Cornyn), Price took positions with Dallas and then Houston law firms representing big businesses, especially in government arenas. Oh yes, representing corporations on the government dole in dealing with government is certainly private making of things we all use.
- U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice – Private sector experience: Yes. 77% of cabinet with private sector experience, 18% without. Rice was a consultant with McKinsey and Co., sort of the ne plus ultra of private sectorness, for a while before beginning her climb to U.N Ambassador. How does one use consulting with McKinsey, a company which I applied to just out of college also, though I was declined, which is why I went and hired people and made things and earned a salary and then a profit rather then start the climb to the megagovernment of the UN. And what private sector manufacturing jobs, or retail or wholesale did she use to get to the UN? And how did all this private sector experience help her in understanding the 194 some odd nations of the UN? I at least speak a passable Spanish and Czech – does Ms. Rice speak anything but English and bureaurcratese?
- Council of Economic Advisors Chair Christina Romer – Private sector experience: Yes, but academic. We won’t count it to make AEI out to be less of a sucker. 77% of cabinet with private sector experience, 23% without significant private sector experience. Dr. Romer’s chief appointments have been academic, and at a public university, though her education was entirely private. Yes, since it happened in her own brain, as does everyone else’s, her education was indeed private. A specialist in the Great Depression and economic data gathering, she’s highly considered by her colleagues, and is a past-president of the American Economic Association.
And what do I conclude after this tour de force by Tim Panogos in defendign the business acumen of the Obama cabinet? Each and every “private” sector experience of these people is in law and dealing with the government and in government itself. This is by Tim’s own admission – his facts – I trust him to report the truth. Yet, what remains true is that not one of these people ever had a hand in manufacturing anything, hiring anyone (except perhaps another lawyer,) or bringing raw materials and parts and pieces into a coherent whole of a product that I can find in any retail or wholesale outlet. Not a one earned a profit. Not a one paid taxes on anything other than income and capital gains. Not a one made anything corporeal, that I can hold in my hands or view with my eyes. Not a one didn’t scurry for power at the first opportunity. Not a one is a citizen legislator, but instead a career politician. And oddly, not a one has a shred of experience in the area over which he or she now has surzereigneity. It’s amazing, too, that Tim makes the case. Odd, so odd, that I’m dumbfounded.