No, the government should not be run like a business.
One of the more frustrating arguments in favor of Trump and in general the Republican Party is that government should be run more like a business.
On the surface, the idea is that privatization, competition and capitalism uses brutal and ruthless efficiency to eliminate waste and provide the best possible product for the most people. And generally this works with something like spatulas or shoe laces, but not government.
So, it’s a business. First thing we gotta do is get that CEO salary in line with industry standards. Current Presidential Salary is $400,000 per year. What kind of CEO would you attract with that money? You need to survey the landscape. Since CEO salaries are determined by boards based the going rate for CEOs. So the government would be the biggest company in the US, it would stand that they should command the highest salary. The CEO of Expedia (EXPEDIA!!!) was compensated to the tune of $94.6 million dollars last year, so let’s just round up and pay our guy $100 million. Not off to a good start with our quest for fiscal efficiency.
If our government were run like a business they would do what business all must do: maximize revenue streams while reducing cost. So let’s look at the expenses and revenue generators for our government:
1. Medicaid, Welfare, Education — Of course, you’d think it would make sense to cut all of these things, but not so fast. Medicaid, Education and Welfare provide much needed help, care, and education to children, who are, after all, future consumers. Dollar for dollar, education is one of the best investments a government can make. It doesn’t directly generate revenue, but it’s indirect generation. Think of this like research and development. It stays.
2. Medicare and Social Security — Gone. Old people who don’t work are the worst consumers. So we need to get these money pits off the books. Sorry old people, time to move in with your kids. Our business can’t handle your expenses.
3. Defense — Imagine if Target were to allocate the same budget for security that we do for defense. The Mach 3 razors would be protected by a stealth bomber.
Every business understands that the cost of security must be weight against the value of security. Does it make more sense to hire a guard to stop theft that’s below the cost of that guard? No, of course not. So you have to let a little theft slide, because the cost of stopping it isn’t worth it. So, first thing a “business” government would do is slash defense to the bone, to the bare minimum required to keep America safe.
The other alternative is that we might find ways to monetize the military. Private security for dictators, rent jets to wealthy business men, aircraft carrier parties for the children of Russian oligarchs. Anything in pursuit of offsetting this cost.
4. Immigration — One of the key principles of business is that you want to make your product available to as many consumers as possible. As a government, our revenue market is the domestic market. So in order to grow that market, we need to open up the borders. More people equals more revenue. Of course, we’d have to find a balance, if it gets too crowded and our high revenue customers start leaving for Canada we’ll scale it back. Thankfully, we’re a monopoly.
5. Post Office — We’ve got this asset, we’ve got the infrastructure, but it has to compete against UPS, FedEx, and DHL. So first thing our “business government” would do is slap an enormous tax on non-government mail and package delivery, or just go ahead and make them illegal. How easy it is for business when you can write the laws!
6. Roads — These things cost a fortune. So time to turn all federally owned roads, highways, into toll roads. With no competition, we charge as much as we can until we see demand fall off. Market elasticity.
7. Taxes — Ahh, yes, the part where market elasticity will be most put the test. As a business, we see that our largest revenue stream, by far, is taxes. And no well run business would intentionally CUT it’s revenue stream. So we would maximize it by raising taxes as high as possible before people start moving away, or stop working. Much like with immigration, our monopoly status means we have some time to figure out exactly where to peg that number.
It’s ruthless monopoly capitalism, and steps that should be done by any government with any sense of business acumen.
What you really want is a business where employees are paid a fair, but not unreasonable wage. One that provides a service at a low cost with a great benefit. One that helps those in need, but doesn’t really interfere too much with your daily life.
So you don’t really want the government run like a business, you want it run like a non profit… one like Planned Parenthood.