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WCGreen

(45,558 posts)
Wed Dec 26, 2012, 12:54 PM Dec 2012

The idea that you should run the government like a business...

is ridiculous in the reality based world.

First of all, a business is in marketplace, competing. Government operates outside the marketplace.

A business has a primary mission to turn a profit. There is no profit incentive in government. If you don't have enough to supply the basic needs of your citizens, you raise funds. If you have a surplus you cut taxes. A business does not have that luxury.

A business makes a commitment to its customers. A government has to provide for citizens without any other connection except that they are alive and live in that governments jurisdiction.

A government is there to provide access to the basic functions of society. A business is not.

A business can not operate with a deficit for very long. A national government can borrow money to keep providing essential needs by borrowing.

By the way, pushing more and more government provided by the federal to the states is just another way to get rid of the functions of government because states cannot run a deficit like the federal government.

So mull that over, offer some more examples and think about this the next time a conservative says privatize.

21 replies = new reply since forum marked as read
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The idea that you should run the government like a business... (Original Post) WCGreen Dec 2012 OP
Yeah.. except a "business's commitment to its customers" is secondary annabanana Dec 2012 #1
"Run like a business" is NOT 'government should BE a business' KurtNYC Dec 2012 #2
Definitely, if the gating measure is "quality of life for all citizens." Pathetically, $$$$$ is RKP5637 Dec 2012 #4
I think it is worse than that. If the government is a business then it is one KurtNYC Dec 2012 #8
Sadly, quite true! We're stuck in a rut and I often wonder what will RKP5637 Dec 2012 #9
Too bad more Democrats do not point this out.... kentuck Dec 2012 #3
A government can define profit as a stable, just society riqster Dec 2012 #5
I like that.. WCGreen Dec 2012 #6
The primary role of government is to spend money lunatica Dec 2012 #7
Conservatives are always yammering about running the government WCGreen Dec 2012 #11
Business is unethical. Period. Baitball Blogger Dec 2012 #10
A Business Can Declare Bankruptcy, Close Up Shop, and Walk Away Forever Yavin4 Dec 2012 #12
The Government-as-business meme infuriated me ... Vox Moi Dec 2012 #13
If the govt was a business ran according to the people who say it should be ran like a business... ck4829 Dec 2012 #14
My boss here often comments that the business skill Lucky Luciano Dec 2012 #15
the problem with state and especially local governments.... WCGreen Dec 2012 #20
I just like to say that there is no Owner's Equity in government's balance sheet Gman Dec 2012 #16
That's a really good point.. WCGreen Dec 2012 #19
Exactly Gman Dec 2012 #21
Business is not required to go broke on September 30 jmowreader Dec 2012 #17
Don't we have enough theft already? quaker bill Dec 2012 #18

annabanana

(52,791 posts)
1. Yeah.. except a "business's commitment to its customers" is secondary
Wed Dec 26, 2012, 12:58 PM
Dec 2012

to its commitment to its shareholders.

Which makes it even LESS appropriate for governance.

KurtNYC

(14,549 posts)
2. "Run like a business" is NOT 'government should BE a business'
Wed Dec 26, 2012, 01:03 PM
Dec 2012

I think that government programs should be required to have performance measures. Government's best goal is quality of life for all citizens and we should link expenditures to results so that programs and practices can be voted on.

RKP5637

(67,112 posts)
4. Definitely, if the gating measure is "quality of life for all citizens." Pathetically, $$$$$ is
Wed Dec 26, 2012, 01:06 PM
Dec 2012

generally the gating measure and "quality of life for all citizens" comes in as a secondary concern.

KurtNYC

(14,549 posts)
8. I think it is worse than that. If the government is a business then it is one
Wed Dec 26, 2012, 01:30 PM
Dec 2012

that lets its vendors write their own purchase orders. It is a business that does the bidding of other businesses with no regard for its own financial condition. It is like a giant Citibank that needs a bailout every 15th of April.

RKP5637

(67,112 posts)
9. Sadly, quite true! We're stuck in a rut and I often wonder what will
Wed Dec 26, 2012, 01:35 PM
Dec 2012

be the catalyst for dynamic change. TPTB, the 1%, the $$$$$ controllers will not make any change, because well, it's the right thing to do.

riqster

(13,986 posts)
5. A government can define profit as a stable, just society
Wed Dec 26, 2012, 01:09 PM
Dec 2012

If that were how they defined it, no prob. But they cling to the monetary definition, which is why the "run it like a business" idea doesn't' work.

lunatica

(53,410 posts)
7. The primary role of government is to spend money
Wed Dec 26, 2012, 01:24 PM
Dec 2012

And to spend it on the welfare and well being of the American citizens. It's therefore run by elected officials, who are put in their offices to run the government and to see to it that the citizens are the beneficiaries of said government.

I don't see how anyone can confuse the roles of business and government.

WCGreen

(45,558 posts)
11. Conservatives are always yammering about running the government
Wed Dec 26, 2012, 01:40 PM
Dec 2012

like a business.

It's time to make them own it.

Yavin4

(35,564 posts)
12. A Business Can Declare Bankruptcy, Close Up Shop, and Walk Away Forever
Wed Dec 26, 2012, 01:41 PM
Dec 2012

A government cannot do this. A government has to serve the people no matter what.

Vox Moi

(546 posts)
13. The Government-as-business meme infuriated me ...
Wed Dec 26, 2012, 02:23 PM
Dec 2012

... because not only was total nonsense, nobody ever challenged it.
Why didn't Obama and supporters challenge Romney to do something more than just repeat this mantra?
Exactly how would government-as-business work?
Make a profit?
Have a board of directors and investors?
What?
It was a bogus panacea, propagated by people who think that 'business' is the only social institution a society needs.
It was The Big, Stinking Lie.
... and nobody ever called them on it.

ck4829

(35,216 posts)
14. If the govt was a business ran according to the people who say it should be ran like a business...
Wed Dec 26, 2012, 02:33 PM
Dec 2012

It wouldn't last a year, probably not even a month.

* Let's not raise any money
* Let's not spend any money on things that people want, things like infrastructure, but on antique military products
* Let's not compete with private businesses that provide similar to services as us
* Let's not provide our people with benefits

Lucky Luciano

(11,307 posts)
15. My boss here often comments that the business skill
Wed Dec 26, 2012, 02:48 PM
Dec 2012

that would be most valuable would be negotiating - not the profit motive. There are clearly a lot of hard line negotiating tactics that must be used in government and his claim is that a C-level executive is the type that can tactfully maneuver through those negotiations. I agree to a point, but it is hard to trust that the negotiating skills being employed would be for the maximal benefit of the country over selfish aspirations.

WCGreen

(45,558 posts)
20. the problem with state and especially local governments....
Wed Dec 26, 2012, 05:53 PM
Dec 2012

is the lenders are often forced to make adjustments through out the fiscal year if funds are not going to match the expenses.

Gman

(24,780 posts)
16. I just like to say that there is no Owner's Equity in government's balance sheet
Wed Dec 26, 2012, 02:52 PM
Dec 2012

they start sputtering after that. Usual responses are along the lines of "well, we're the owners" or something just as inane or worse.

WCGreen

(45,558 posts)
19. That's a really good point..
Wed Dec 26, 2012, 05:50 PM
Dec 2012

State and local governments are not allowed, by law, to run into a deficit at the end of the fiscal year. They have to cut stuff as the future shortfall is known.

jmowreader

(50,807 posts)
17. Business is not required to go broke on September 30
Wed Dec 26, 2012, 03:54 PM
Dec 2012

Every government agency is required to go broke on the last day of the fiscal year.

There is a government agency called the National Reconnaissance Office. They run our spy satellites. Satellites are very expensive and so is all the equipment that supports them. In the 1980s they got a director who decided to run NRO like a business. He got Congress to fund him at levels proper for his agency, and then he hired the best negotiators he could to deal with suppliers and the like. Over five years this asshole saved up enough to build a new $220 million headquarters without an additional nickel of tax funds.

When Congress found out they shit bricks and went into "we must make sure this never happens again!" mode. I thought they should have figured out a system of controls to prevent fraud then allowed every government agency to do the same thing. Requiring them to spend it all does not motivate a sense of thrift in our bureaucrats.

My thinking is, we allow agencies to retain the funds they don't use in a safe investment vehicle they can get out of quick. They report their interest earnings to a Congressional office. They can use the money as rainy-day funding or to buy capital equipment. And in the event their interest earnings reach one percent of what Congress gives them, Congress can have the option to reduce their funding by half their interest income.

I can see some government agencies being run exactly like businesses. Take the Army and Air Force Exchange Service - the PX system. Right now, it's only open to the military. There is no reason why AAFES could not change to a two-tier price structure - 10% off for military ID card holders - and open their stores to the public. The additional profits would go to the government to reduce the deficit. The added volume would allow AAFES to negotiate better prices from suppliers. And the "troop profit" (those guys sell to soldiers at a profit now; the profit earned up to the price soldiers pay will be called troop profit) will go toward supporting soldiers. Only allow them to build next to military bases, so we don't have another Walmart on our hands, and only let PXs on the edges of installations, or new ones built outside the gate, do it for security reasons.

We also have two manufacturers in our government: Skilcraft (National Institutes for the Blind) and Unicor (Federal Prison Industries). Why can't these two sell to the public? Most of their competitors manufacture in China, and people want to buy American.

quaker bill

(8,227 posts)
18. Don't we have enough theft already?
Wed Dec 26, 2012, 03:58 PM
Dec 2012

Never in government's wildest excesses has it ever done anything as destructive as ENRON, World Com or the housing bubble. Why would we want it to work like a business?

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