Should government run like a business? No!

You often hear people ask whether government should be run like a business. The big picture answer is a resounding “No!”.

In some aspects, government would be better is certain business-like methods were used. However, if you look at a prime goals of most businesses you find that one of the most important goals is to grow. That is, expand the size, power, and influence of the business. Business owners and operators want to sell more, make more money, and if possible even dominate in their market. And this is a good thing, because when any business does that it means they are delivering products and services that satisfy the largest audience. The most profitable business is the one that delivers the best to its customers, while consuming the least amount of resources.

The bottom line of business could be said to be to grow by expanding its size, power and influence by delivering better products and service while consuming the least resources. That is, to make a profit.

If you apply this growth goal to government, you would see that expanding the size, power, and influence, and even dominance of government does in fact fit perfectly with the liberal agenda. But it is antithetical to the conservative agenda.

If you look across the centuries at other institutions that are not business-like, the major institution you find is the Church. To a greater or lesser degree, many Western religious institutions also have had the goals of expanding their size, power and influence. Did they do this by “delivering a better service”? Perhaps not. Perhaps the Western Church had the carrot and stick of heaven and hell. So the bottom line of the Church is generated by non-business motivating factors.

Looking back at government, we see the motivating factor is largely force. The government literally can “hold a gun to your head” to gain compliance. It does not need to deliver better products and services using the least resources. You might say that there is a theoretical “heaven and hell” of a happy verses unhappy society. But the bottom line is the law.

When government uses the law to compel its own expansion, it is definitely not business-like. The conservative goals of smaller government fly in the face of growth. Thus this main business goal is absent. The other goals of “liberty” and “prosperity” take the place of growth of government.

So do not get confused. While certain methods of effective organization, such as Lean Six Sigma, certainly do apply to all organizations, whether government, business, or religious. Yet let’s not forget the major goals. Growth for business; not for government. Or better perhaps “growth for liberty and prosperity”, not for government.

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