Friday, April 08, 2005

Our MBA President

An interesting trivial tidbit about President Bush: he earned a master's degree in business administration from Harvard Business School. He's the first president in history to have an MBA. One of his old professors, Yoshi Tsurumi, reminisces about Bush the student in the Harvard Crimson...

Thirty years ago, President Bush was my student at Harvard Business School. In my class, he called former president Franklin D. Roosevelt, Class of 1904, a “socialist” and spoke against Social Security, unemployment insurance, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and other New Deal innovations. He refused to understand that capitalism becomes corrupt without democratic civic values and ethical restraints.

In those days, Bush belonged to a minority of MBA students who were seriously disconnected from taking the moral and social responsibility for their actions. Today, he would fit in comfortably with an overwhelming majority of business students and teachers whose role models are celebrated captains of piracy. Since the 1980s, as neo-conservatives have captured the Republican Party, America’s business education has also increasingly become contaminated by the robber baron culture of the pre-Great Depression era.

Bush is the first president of the United States with a Master’s of Business Administration (MBA). Yet, he epitomizes the worst aspects of America’s business education.

So Bush was a trendsetter - a man ahead of his time. Of course, those modern business practices have influenced the policies of the Bush administration...

To privatize Social Security, he is peddling a colossal lie about its solvency. Furthermore, Bush, along with today’s business aristocrats, shows no compassion for working Americans, robbing them to benefit big business and the very rich. Last year, due to Bush’s tax cuts, over 80 of America’s most profitable 200 corporations did not pay even a penny of their federal and state income taxes. Meanwhile, to pay for his additional tax cuts for the very rich, Bush is drastically cutting back several social services, such as federal lunch programs for poor children.

But the grownups are in charge now. Surely this will all turn out to the good. After all, they're just implementing Adam Smith's laissez-faire theories. Right?

American economics study has increasingly become a pseudoscience of mathematical formula manipulation that is devoid of humanity. This economics has conquered America’s business education and become fused with the robber baron culture of greed supremacy. American MBAs are taught to treat ordinary employees as disposable costs and to swallow uncritically the gospel that corporations exist only to reward abstract stockholders. MBAs are taught the pretend-science of manipulating accounting, finance, employees, customers, and stock prices. Financial games and hostile takeovers of competitors are taught to accomplish corporations’ sole objective—to make money and manipulate stock prices. Such a mistaken view of corporations has caused the dismal decline of American auto manufacturers while Toyota and Honda widen their market shares and profits in America, pursuing their goals of expanding employment and technological innovations.

To justify the robber baron culture, America’s business educators and economists falsely cite their demigod of laissez-faire market economics, Adam Smith. Little do they know that Adam Smith in fact scathingly castigated Bush’s type of government: business collusion and unfair taxes, Wal-Mart’s exploitations of labor and communities, and robber barons’ hubris. Nowhere in his 900-page book, The Wealth of Nations, does Smith even imply that those who knowingly harm others and society in their pursuit of personal greed also benefit their society. He rejects the notion that a corporation exists to make money without ethical constraints.

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