You Can’t Run A Country The Way You Run A Business

By David Grace (www.DavidGraceAuthor.com)

A Company Can’t Be Run As If It Were A Country

A friend of mine worked at a company where the owner didn’t understand the difference between a company and a country.

One of the employees, Sally, did a terrible job but whenever anyone said that Sally should be fired, the owner’s response was: “Oh no, Sally needs this job. She’s got bills to pay.”

Instead, the boss turned to my friend and told him, “We’re a team. As a member of the team it’s up to you to fix Sally’s mistakes.”

Essentially, the boss thought that his company had an obligation to give people money. He viewed his company as some sort of a welfare system where wagers were unrelated to the amount and the quality of the work performed.

The owner was trying to run his company under communist principles — everybody gets paid the same amount no matter how much or how little work they do. In practice, that meant that laziness and incompetence were rewarded and talent and diligence were punished.

It doesn’t take a genius to realize that this policy did not end well.

The owner had confused the relationship between a company and its employees with that between a country and its citizens.

The role of a company is to sell products and services for enough money to pay the costs of producing them, including a reasonable return to investors for their money and their risk.

In a company, under-performing or unneeded employees need to be fired and after they’re terminated they never again need to be present on the company’s property.

A country doesn’t work that way at all.

A Company Can Banish Under-Performing People. A Country Cannot

A country can’t fire unneeded or under-performing citizens and have them forever disappear from the country’s territory. Unemployed, starving, homeless citizens do not magically vanish across the country’s borders the way ex-employees disappear through the company’s front gate.

A fired employee may move on to another job with another employer, but a citizen has no such option to switch to another country.

Imagine what your company would be like if fired employees never left, if they just continued to show up every day and huddle in the parking lot and scrounge scraps from the garbage cans in the company cafeteria.

Failed citizens, unemployed citizens, drug-addicted citizens are still all there within the country’s borders causing all kinds of problems that departed employees do not cause for their former employers.

No company could sustain terminated employees never leaving, but that’s exactly what happens to with unneeded, under-performing citizens in a country. They’re all still right there.

You Cannot Banish The Homeless & Unemployed To A Desert Island

If you created some monstrous state where the homeless, drug-addicted, poverty-stricken and unemployed were regularly scooped and transported to some desert island or Nazi-style death camp, some out-of-sight-out-of mind society where the losers would disappear so that they wouldn’t cause any trouble for the winners, you might be able to get away with treating a country like a company that simply fired its incompetent or surplus workers never to see them or be troubled by them again.

But, short of establishing such a nightmare society, you can’t run a country as if it’s a company that is free to fire its unneeded or unwanted workers without consequence, because those unemployed, homeless, poverty-stricken people don’t leave the country the way a fired employee leaves the company.

They’re still there, on your streets, in your parks, and in your lives.

A Company’s Purpose

Because a company’s purpose is to sell products and services at a reasonable profit, a company cannot afford to retain workers whose wages exceed the value that their labor adds to the company’s products.

A Country’s Purpose

A country is not a for-profit enterprise whose purpose is to sell products and services only to those of its citizens who can afford to pay for them.

Because a country’s purpose is to provide an infrastructure that supports and promotes a free, prosperous, socially mobile, safe, educated and creative society, it cannot afford large masses of unemployed, sick, homeless, drug-addicted, criminal, ignorant, violent, poverty-stricken people. Those sorts of people are toxic to a prosperous, safe and free society.

Welfare Makes These Problems Worse

You don’t reduce the number of those people by giving them free, government handouts. If anything, free money without work increases their numbers. Welfare makes these problems worse.

You reduce the numbers of unemployed, impoverished citizens by providing each of them with access to a job that pays a living wage.

See my column: A Guaranteed Minimum Income Is The Wrong Answer To The Right Question. The Solution To The Shortage Of Living-Wage, Low-Skilled Jobs Is Publicly Funded, Non-Profit Corporations That Will Pay A Living Wage.

An employer can safely tell an employee: “You’re fired. Whether you can find another job or not is your problem, not mine.”

A country cannot safely tell its citizens: “There is no job that will pay you a living wage. That’s your problem, not mine.”

— David Grace (www.DavidGraceAuthor.com)

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David Grace

David Grace

Graduate of Stanford University & U.C. Berkeley Law School. Author of 16 novels and over 400 Medium columns on Economics, Politics, Law, Humor & Satire.