In his Republic, Plato looked at the types of people who could potentially lead the government. He ruled out soldiers on the grounds they are motivated by warlike impulses. He also ruled out businessmen, as they are governed by greed.
For all his brilliance, I’ve always had to take Plato with a grain of salt. He believed that the philosopher-king should be the type to rule government, which, as a college freshman, I found problematic. Worse still, Plato, born an aristocrat, had a blatant hostility toward democracy.
But as of late in the U.S., we’ve been subjected to rule by a number of businessmen. We’ve had the Bush oilmen, who subjected the U.S. to successive wars in Iraq, destabilizing the Middle East and squandering American resources. We’ve had Dick Cheney, who pushed for the second Iraq war.
There was no legitimate reason either time for starting a war with Iraq. The second war was a detour from American efforts to hunt terrorists. But Iraq jeopardized American oil interests, and the Bushes could not see beyond oil. The Halliburton corporation that Cheney was closely connected to made considerable monies through contracts in the second Iraq war.
We need public servants who will serve without self-interest; not businessmen who will use the government to make themselves wealthier. At least on the issue of businessmen in government, Plato was correct.