Should government be run like a business? | The Tylt

Should government be run like a business?

President Trump has tapped his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to lead a government task force designed to overhaul government bureaucracy, with the goal of making it run more like a business. Proponents say bringing in the best business minds and ideas would help government operate more efficiently and find new approaches to entrenched problems. Critics say government and business don't mix—they have different missions, constituents and some things should never be privatized. What do you think?

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Proponents of running the government like a business say the government has a lot of room for improvement. Bureaucracy and regulations are slowing down the economy, and make government costly and ineffective. Kushner wants to revamp how government agencies operate entirely—a better technology and data infrastructure can allow government to operate more efficiently and move faster to deliver services to American citizens.

Kushner’s ambitions for what the new office can achieve are grand. At least to start, the team plans to focus its attention on reimagining Veterans Affairs; modernizing the technology and data infrastructure of every federal department and agency; remodeling workforce-training programs; and developing “transformative projects” under the banner of Trump’s $1 trillion infrastructure plan, such as providing broadband Internet service to every American.

Infusing business thinking into government can bring a greater sense of urgency to federal agencies. Trump sees his victory as a mandate from the American people to blow up and fix government. This is how to get results. 

“All Americans, regardless of their political views, can recognize that government stagnation has hindered our ability to properly function, often creating widespread congestion and leading to cost overruns and delays,” Trump said in a statement to The Washington Post. “I promised the American people I would produce results, and apply my ‘ahead of schedule, under budget’ mentality to the government.”
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Critics say government and businesses should remain separate because they are fundamentally different things. Businesses exist to generate a profit. Government exists to balance the interests of its citizens, allocate resources and work with partners abroad to ensure peace and stability. All of these questions are infinitely more difficult and require a different approach than maximizing profit. 

Government has to do lots of things that cannot be measured by simple profit-and-loss sheets. The questions of government are more profound, and the answers are more elusive. Instead of asking, “How are we going to move more product this quarter,” or “Should we issue a bigger dividend to our stockholders?” presidents and policymakers have to ask questions like “How can we balance the interests of our allies who have conflicting goals for our foreign policy?” or “How can we apportion funding for medical research in a world of limitless need and scarce resources?” or “Should we intervene in another country’s civil war if it means preventing genocide?” or “What is the nature of ‘justice’ and how can we prepare people who are incarcerated to be able to re-enter society?”

One of the reasons why government is inefficient is because it needs to balance the interests of everyone involved. It would be much easier if the government could brush tribes aside and build pipelines immediately, but that's not democracy. Democracy is about forging coalitions, compromising and working together—things that businesses shun in favor of moving fast and breaking things. 

But one drawback of this systemic bias for protecting the rights of the minority party is that it can be hard for the U.S. government to be efficient, to get rid of unpopular programs or to stop spending money on small-but-powerful constituencies. Presidents and governors and legislative leaders have to deal with lots of nagging issues and pestering people who all have their own specific competing agendas for what they want government to do for them—whether it’s favorable treatment in the tax code, removal of onerous regulations, or public works spending to stimulate the local economy. None of these concerns can be easily dismissed or waved away—in a democracy, everyone has the right to organize into interest groups and air their grievances, and the government has to at least make a show of hearing them all.

Businesses are good at creating efficiency and optimizing for profit and gain. While those buzzwords sound tempting to implement in government, at the end of the day, government is created by American citizens to help American citizens. Business has no place in that. 

Despite its messiness and waste and occasional corruption and constant disappointments, democratic government is meant to represent the collective will of the people, operating by consent of the governed, built on a foundation of broad consensus and coalition-building to ensure that as many people as possible feel like they have a stake in the system. Government is not a private club; it’s a public space.
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Post by Dan Hadley.
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Post by Jan Angevine.
FINAL RESULTS
Politics
Should government be run like a business?
#PrivatizeBigGovt
A festive crown for the winner
#MakePolicyNotProfits