Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Government is not a business

There are people who correctly claim, “If I ran my business like the government, I would go out of business.” Their point is usually financial. They cannot endlessly spend more than they take in and remain solvent. The entity that prints or mints the money can do things that those who must earn money cannot.

The point is well taken and should be instructive for the government. While a government may be able to stretch financial limits more than those with more immediate accountability, it, too, can face a day of reckoning when its bill finally comes due.

Comparisons of government to business should stop here. There is an important way in which government and business are not and should not be alike.

Governments have a monopoly on power. Internally we may separate the management of those powers into different branches of government, and it may come forth through various agencies, but the net result comes from one authority. There is only one U.S. Constitution.

There's no such thing as a simultaneous choice between having a Republican-led government or a Democrat-led government. It's one or the other. We literally cannot have half the population deciding to have Republicans making, enforcing, and deciding about laws, and the other half deciding to have Democrats making, enforcing, and deciding about laws.

Business does not have a monopoly on power. People may decide to patronize one business or another at any time for any duration. If they decide they don't like or no longer like a business' product offerings, it can choose another or choose none at all. It's their choice. We call this freedom. Business, then, has ample incentive to compete for people's business. Their goal is maximizing value while minimizing cost. This is not only allowed, it is encouraged and something to celebrate.

One might argue that political parties offer a lively marketplace of options for power. Their product, however, is never the power itself, but the opportunity to take over the existing power management structure. They do not offer new constitutions for forming governments. They offer candidates to operate within the existing authority structure.

Some are concerned that as some multi-national companies get very large, and financially larger than some entire states or countries, that their power is monopoly-like in terms of their control over a market and people's ability to choose what they want. I do not find this compelling. • Even small countries can still bend companies their way in terms of how their policies deal with evil. • Second, if you look at what these large companies spend on lobbying, it's clear that they are very aware they are still under and must adhere to authority. While some may counter that the amount spent on lobbying is exactly the point, I would argue we still have transparency on the results and policies passed and implemented, so I'm not as concerned about the lengths to which a company goes to make its case.

People need to be clear on the purpose of government. The reason to get elected is not to make government as efficient as a business. This dangerously ignores fundamental differences in the nature of how these two types of entities operate.

• Business exists to offer good value.
• Government exists to crush evil.

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