Monday, October 4, 2010

Yes, folks. Cabinet members HAVE had real jobs.

Let's get started with this email:

A chart that showed past presidents and the percentage of each president's
cabinet appointees who had previously worked in the private sector - you know, a
real life business,.. not a government job? Remember what that is?

private business?
*Roosevelt - 38%*
*Taft - 40%*
*Wilson - 52%*
*Harding - 49%*
*Coolidge - 48%*
*Hoover - 42%*
*FDR - 50%*
*Truman - 50%*
*Eisenhower - 57%*
*Kennedy - 30%*
*LBJ - 47%*
*Nixon - 53%*
*Ford - 42%*
*Carter - 32%*
*Reagan - 56%*
*GHWB - 51%*
*Clinton - 39%*
*GWB - 55%*
*And the Chicken Dinner
Winner is.........................*

*Obama - 8%* ----

This is
the guy who wants to tell YOU how to run YOUR life!

in the Obama Cabinet, HAS EVER HAD A JOB.

And these are the guys holding a "job summit," going to tell us how to
run our businesses, make our decisions for us?
Do you want to trust them
with every aspect of your life?

"When the people fear the Government,
that is tyranny. When the Government fears the people, that is Liberty."
Thomas Jefferson

Wow. That sounds bad.

But, wait. Only one cabinet member in the Obama administration has ever held a private sector job? In order to do that, it seems like he'd have to try to select a cabinet that's never held a job outside of the government. Do you really think the President would deliberately apply such a litmus test to his nominees? That just doesn't sound right.

Let's look a little deeper.

First, let's take a trip to the White House website, and see who's sitting in the President's cabinet.

Wait a minute. I'm counting 15 secretaries. State, Treasury, Defense, Justice, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Labor, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Energy, Education, Veteran's Affairs, and Homeland Security.

But, according to our anonymous source, "ONLY ONE IN TWELVE" (caps copied from the original) has held a job.

So, it seems that our anonymous email writer is criticising government officials on their qualifications - while he can't even pass 1st grade math.

Okay, let's see how bad this author's math is.

Let's start from the top:

Hillary Clinton: From 1977-1993, worked at the Rose Law Firm. A very large corporate law firm. At one point becoming the first female senior partner. One article critical of the work she did can be found here. Now, corporate law at a private firm... that's clearly not government work. She must be the one, right?

Timothy Geithner: Let's give the writer a break, and say that work at the federal reserve is public-sector. (A subject worthy of debate.) So, let's disqualify that. Before his work for the Fed, he was employed at the Kissinger Institute - a private group offering advice on public policy. Okay, all of his work has been in public policy - either in think tanks, or at the Fed. Arguably, one could make a case that he hasn't had work outside of government policy. It's a stretch, but it's a stretch that one can make. Especially if you're motivated to smear the Obama administration.

Robert Gates: Recruited into the CIA when he started graduate school, and started by serving as second lieutenant in the Air Force preparing intelligence briefings. Far from a cushy political position. Rose to CIA director, after leaving, served in academia and on corporate boards. Personally, I'm happy to have a defense secretary who's spent most of his life in the military. (And so did George W. Bush, who originally placed him in his position.) But, if you really want to stretch it, you could say that undignified and apolitical gruntwork in the Air Force and CIA are still government positions, and corporate board memberships are "vanity" titles. So, you could argue against his having a "real job". If you're narrow-minded enough to define "real" as outside government.

Eric Holder: So, close, Mr. Anonymous writer. Eric Holder has spent almost his entire career after law school in the Department of Justice, primarily in the public integrity division. Charged with persuing official corruption. Under several presedential administrations, both Republican and Democrat. But, he has been a "Litigation Partner" at Covington and Burling - a private law firm. Granted, our writer might spin some fantastic story about how this might be a political favor - but I think the burden falls on our writer here to prove such a wild theory. Looks like s/he missed this one. We're running 2/4 so far.

Kenneth Salazar: Total miss. Worked as an attorney in the private sector for several years before joining the Governor's Cabinet. And he owns a working farm. Making him a business owner. Sorry, Mr. Email writer - I don't think you were paying attention with this one.

Thomas Vilsack: Worked at his father-in-law's private legal firm for twelve years before his first government job - mayor of Mount Pleasant, Iowa. I'll admit - my research here is a pretty half-assed effort, this took me awhile to find. Maybe it was a little more effort than our original writer cared to make. (If s/he made one at all.) But a private sector job it is.

Gary Locke: Once again, our anonymous blogger forgot to include the fact that he was a partner at the private law firm of Davis, Wright, and Tremaine... this is getting to be a bad habit!

Hilda Solis: Her background seems pretty well documented by Wikipedia. (Not that this is 100% accurate, but, like I said, I'm half-assing my research, and this article looks pretty detailed.) An interesting story, but no clear record of private sector employment. They got one right. I suppose that broken clocks do give the correct time twice a day...

Kathleen Sebelius: First job out of college was as director and lobbyist for the Kansas Trial Lawyers' Association. After that, she served elected positions in government. Okay, technically, the trial lawyers' association is a real (private) business - but let's give our anonymous writer a break and call this "debateable." Even if it really isn't.

Shaun Donovan: His biography on the HUD website states that he's worked in the private sector as an architect. My half-assed research can't find many details on this employment, but it's verified by U.S. News and World Report.

Ray LaHood: According to the Department of Transportation biography, before holding elected office, he worked as a high school teacher. Technically, government work. Got one right, as far as I can tell.

Steven Chu: A nobel-prizewinning scientist. Did you think that he's spent all of his life in university studies? I thought so. I was wrong. He's been an employee at Bell Laboratories.

Arne Duncan: Played professional basketball in Australia from 1987-1991. That's about as far from government work as you get.

Eric Shinseki: A career military man, including combat tours in Vietnam. After his retirement, he's served on corporate boards, which critics might call "not real work", I suppose. Okay, he's lost half of one foot while serving for our country, and has had a distinguished military career. But not much outside of the public sector. For all it matters.

Janet Napolitano: Damn! They missed her work for the private law firm Lewis and Roca. Again!

So, our anonymous writer says that only 8% of the cabinet has "previously worked in the private sector". Let's count 'em up...

Documented, almost inarguable private sector work: Clinton, Holder, Salazar, Vilsack, Locke, Donovan, Chu, Duncan, Napolitano = 9

Arguable - worked in quasi-governmental organizations, independent public policy advisors, or on corporate boards (where they may have been "vanity" employees) - Geithner, Gates, Sebelius, Shinseki = 4

No private sector work found in my half-assed google searches: Solis, LaHood. = 2

Giving the writer every unreasonable doubt? I calculate that 60% of Obama's Cabinet has worked in the private sector. A far cry from 8%. And above every other president listed. Not that I trust this author's research on the other presidents' cabinets. But it's still a point to be made.

A friend of mine once said, "63% of all statistics are made up on the spot."

I suspect that nearly 100% of all viral email statistics are as well. Including this anonymous writers'.