Obama recently said he had no desire to speak with the CEO of BP because people like that say what you want to hear. In other words, CEOs are dishonest. Or, Obama could have meant that this particular CEO is the type of person who is dishonest, but the context was a CEO to CEO sit-down, so it appears Obama meant business people in general are dishonest. In a way he's right about modern CEOs of huge corporations enmeshed with government -- CEOs of these government-protected companies have to have political skills, so they develope the politician's gift for equivocation and pandering.
Obama's comment also reflects the modern attitude toward business people in general. Through Hollywood, the media and university professors, the business world has been framed as dishonest and greedy, unscrupulous and conniving. In general, this is not true of business people -- there's no factual evidence that business people are any more or less dishonest than the general population, and certainly no more dishonest than politicians and presidents. From my experience, business people are some of the most objective people in our society, because they have to deal with reality and facts and contracts, unless they are protected by government favors, like the bailouts of AIG, GM and Chrysler, and regulations which helped these companies avoid competition.
One of the reasons corporate welfare and crony State-capitalism must end is because it's corrupting what was once a free market, a market where dishonesty was punished. It's not that business people are naturally honest or dishonest -- it's the system in which they operate that makes the difference. If a system rewards dishonesty, even honest men and women are forced to play the game or go out of business. The system created by government favors rewards those who can best manipulate the system -- this leads to dishonesty, saying what politicians want to hear. The free market system punishes manipulation and dishonesty, because consumers want to trust those they do business with -- consumers expect companies to deliver on what they promise. In a free market, honest business people succeed in the long run, although temporary manipulation might give a dishonest company a temporary advantage until the manipulation is discovered. Once it becomes clear that manipulation will be quickly ucovered and punished, the incentive to manipulate begins to disappear. In the Information Age, transparency and integrity are demanded, and crooks are quickly caught.
The Information Age is also uncovering the unholy alliance of Big Business and Big Government. Now that these relationships are imploding -- the financial crisis, the auto company collapse, the gulf oil spill -- government is turning on their partners with tough talk and threats of more regulations. You'd think from all the tough talk coming from Washington D.C. that government is hot on the heels of evil corporations -- the problem is that they've been hot in bed with Big Business. The last thing the public need to fall for right now is the government narrative of evil corporations in need of more tough government regulations. What's needed is to break up this unholy alliance and allow small and medium size companies to compete with these fat, lazy, dishonest big companies who've grown soft, arrogant and incompetent from years of government protection.
A system is needed whereby honesty and excellence are rewarded. This system has been available for a long time. It's called the free market system.