The CEO of the United States?

In an interview, Elon Musk said he wished we could “just have a normal person as President.”  He also went on to say:

Since the president is effectively the executive officer of the country, it actually matters if they are a good executive officer. It’s not simply a matter of do they share your beliefs. But are they good at getting things done? There are a lot of decisions that need to be made every day. Many of them are unrelated to moral beliefs.”

I certainly agree with Elon about the importance of executive skill in a President–it is an ability that is clearly and sadly missing in Biden, as well as in certain past Presidents.  After all, the President’s primary and constitutionally-defined job is execution, not legislation. Yet operations is something that Biden is clearly not interested in, nor, I believe, was Obama.

Where I disagree with the above Musk passage is that phrase executive officer of the country.  No.  The President is executive officer of the government, not of the country. The government is not the society.  It is an agent of the society.

If statism in this country existed to the level that a US President could truly be said to be the executive officer of the country, then Musk would not have been able to accomplish the things he has accomplished without overwhelming levels of government approval, far about and beyond those approvals he has in fact had to get.  Rinse and repeat for all innovations, whether product or business process.

Indeed, given the role of Congress and that of the judiciary, even a President’s job as executive officer of the country is more analogous to a Chief Operating Officer in the private sector than that of a private-sector CEO.

The Fear of Elon Musk

Various people have expressed concern about the Elon Musk buy of Twitter, on grounds that it is dangerous to have such an important platform controlled by one very wealthy individual. I wonder if these people have noticed..

–One of the two most influential newspapers in the country, the Washington Post, is 100% owned by Jeff Bezos, who last I checked is also pretty well-off financially

–The other most-influential newspaper, The New York Times, has been controlled for decades by one wealthy and prominent family. Although The Times is owned by a publicly-traded corporation, the dual-class stock structure means that the control is with the family, not with the other shareholders.

–The largest social media platform, Meta/Facebook, is about 6 times larger than Twitter, based on market capitalization. Although Meta is a public company, it also has a dual-class stock structure, which gives Zuckerberg effective control with 53% of those Class B shares.

–The platform that seems to be getting the most traction among those under 35 or so is TikTok. It is owned by a Chinese company, which means it is required to do the bidding of the government of that country, which means in effect the CCP.

All of those things appear to be just fine with most of those people who are now expressing their upsetness about Musk/Twitter.