CLEVELAND – Throughout his campaign, Mayor-elect Justin Bibb kept uttering a phrase that I found curious, especially given Bibb’s portrayal in the campaign as a progressive who contrasted sharply with the portrayal. of his opponent: “the establishment” and the “boardroom” candidate Kevin Kelley. Bibb’s statement was this: “The town hall must move at the rate of business. “
This is a phrase he used in debates and uttered on “Good Morning America”. Its omnipresence thus serves as a window on its vision of the world of governance. The problem is, this worldview has a terrible record when it comes to governance, as The New Republic’s 2020 dive deep, “The End of the Businessman’s President” illustrates.
Now it can be argued that this is a disposable line which at first glance is safe to suggest that the government needs to be more efficient. But taking Bibb’s mantra at face value would be a mistake, especially given the societal effects that flow from this ideology.
The lionizing of the manager with a suitcase – who needed Superman when you had Clark Kent? – took decades of preparation, culminating in the ‘You’re Fired! »Presidency of the King Kong anti-politician of capitalism, Donald Trump.
In his first inaugural address, for example, President Ronald Reagan exclaimed, “In the current crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.
The gist of the thinking is that whatever the problem, the free market is the solution. The machinations of change are greased by the gospel of efficiency in which profit is king and profit is pure, the invisible-handed market punishing those processes which are neither lean nor wicked, but rather awash in redundancy.
This choir to which Bibb lends his voice is in no way out of step with the conventions. It is in keeping with conservative thinking. The ideology has been dubbed the “Washington Consensus,” pushing economic prescriptions originally applied to developing countries that emphasized the free market and less government intervention. Think of the deregulation and privatization of many public industries, including transportation, utilities, healthcare, and education – not to mention workforce displacement strategies such as automation and outsourcing which, while making production more efficient, has left a stain on societies in deindustrialized economies through the erosion of well-paying jobs.
These stains go beyond the payroll and the wallet, ultimately landing in the attic of human well-being. As the book “Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism” shows, rates of drug addiction, suicide, and chronic disease have increased – and life expectancy has declined – for America’s unschooled working class, a population of of two people. third of the country and over 80% of the Clevelanders.
This means that a strategy which gives priority to the principles of the market economy of reducing costs at all costs is a waste when it extends the barometers of success beyond profitability and well-being. of the society.
And then there’s the reality of how this worldview has stood up to the existential threat of COVID. “[I]If there is one economic policy lesson to be learned from the coronavirus pandemic, it is that the United States’ obsession with efficiency over the past half-century has brutally undermined its ability to cope with such a catastrophic event, “notes management theorist Roger Martin in a Washington Post essay on March 27, 2020,” The virus shows that making our businesses efficient has also weakened our country. “
Never mind the May 19 New York Times headline that I still can’t ignore: “Too Big to Fail: The Entire Private Sector.
It’s not to rain on Bibb’s memorable Lakeside Avenue run parade. I am a long time resident of Cleveland and voted for Bibb. I believe in change and the extinction of bad policies, tired slogans and sloppy worldviews. But I also know that the hands of path addiction are heavy and hate letting go. Hopefully Bibb’s promise of progressive thinking doesn’t succumb to the status quo.
After all, making a broken system more efficient will only make matters worse.
Richey Piiparinen is a writer from Cleveland living in Collinwood.
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