Posted by Jay Livingston
People who made a ton of money in the business world sometimes run for public office. Their entry level aims are usually somewhere near the top – governor, senator, even president. And they often tout their business success as evidence that they’ll be excellent public servants or that they “know how to create jobs.”
It reminds me of high school – the student government elections and Assembly Day when the jock’s speech always centered on the idea that his experience on the football team qualified him to be president of the student body.
I was thinking about this again when I read Sudhir Vankatesh’s piece in Wired about prostitution. He notes that the Internet has not been kind to the pimp role. Hookers have become much more independent.
I met 11 pimps working out of midtown Manhattan in 1999, and all were out of work within four years. One enlisted in the military; two have been homeless. Only one now has a full-time job, working as a janitor in a charter school.*I imagined a pimp speechifying about his administrative role, his vast experience dealing with people, bringing buyers and sellers together – making a market really. All these qualified him for a leadership position in business or government. It’s the same kind of bullshit peddled by the quarterback in high school or the former CEO running for governor. The difference is that the pimps know it and take a more realistic view of their job history.
I asked one of them how pimping experience helps him in the legit economy: “You learn one thing,” he said. “For a good blow job, a man will do just about anything. What can I do with that knowledge? I have no idea.”
* Charter-school advocates often argue that these schools, freed from the union stranglehold over hiring and firing, can be much more effective in their personnel selection. I guess they have a point.