ISSN 2330-717X

Competence – OpEd


I was reading a story on the sports page of my local paper today about a college football coach who was explaining why the team he had been coaching for four years now had failed to show the results he said he would produce when he was hired. This was his first job as a head coach, and he was arguing that he should be retained as the team’s coach because his coaching was good, but didn’t produce the results he’d promised because he just was unable to work with the players to get them to buy into his system. This struck me as a weak argument. A football coach who can’t work with his players is probably not competent to be a head coach.


OK, I made that up. The actual story was in the business section, about a corporate CEO who had assumed that position four years ago. The company was not performing as he forecast when he took over the company. Despite no previous experience as a CEO, he said he came in with good ideas and a solid business plan, but that he found himself unable to work with the company’s employees, who weren’t buying into his system the way they should. But, he argued, his ideas were sound, and he should be retained as CEO. This struck me as a weak argument. A corporate CEO who can’t work with his employees is probably not competent to be a CEO.

Sorry, I made that one up too. The actual story I read was about the President of the United States, who said the reason things aren’t going as well as he forecast when he was elected is that he can’t get Congress to buy into his policies. He has a solid plan, but can’t get Congress to cooperate. But his ideas are good, and he should be re-elected. Interesting campaign strategy.

I’m not taking sides in the upcoming election. I’m just curious about the president’s argument, in which he appears to be saying that despite having some good ideas, he’s not quite up to the job.

Randall G. Holcombe

Randall G. Holcombe is Research Fellow at The Independent Institute, DeVoe Moore Professor of Economics at Florida State University, past President of the Public Choice Society, and past President of the Society for the Development of Austrian Economics. He received his Ph.D. in economics from Virginia Tech, and has taught at Texas A&M University and Auburn University. Dr. Holcombe is also Senior Fellow at the James Madison Institute and was a member of the Florida Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors.

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