Updated: September 29, 2012 6:03AM
Business experience, or lack thereof and the net result of it is a hot topic in this presidential election. I’ve heard for years that we need to run government “more like a business” and have accepted this as a simple remedy for inefficient/ineffective government.
As a small business owner for over 25 years, and 12 years as an elected school board member, I’ve been able to live in both sides of these worlds and have learned that the solution to the operation and function of government being run like a business is only partially true because of some very significant differences in how and why each was formed.
Our government was established to “provide for a common defense,” “insure domestic tranquility”, with legitimate arguments as to whether it has gone beyond its intended bounds. Businesses are established as a result of an individual’s defined right to pursue happiness. While everyone would agree that effective and efficient operation of government and business is highly desirable, this is where the similarities end.
What makes a business very different from government is what President Obama clearly does not understand based on the famous “you didn’t do that” quote. Risk.
Business owners take substantial risk by investing their own resources. They put their money where their mouth is. The system is unforgiving with only those who have or can develop the requisite skills succeeding. This has resulted in America being the home to the strongest companies in the world and becoming the greatest economic engine with the highest standard of living in history.
Government has little risk and few consequences when it fails. What is the downside of running inefficiently? What harm is done by making bad investments?
Unfortunately, the answer is that it simply finds more money through taxation and borrowing and grows bigger. Unlike the private sector where failure weeds out the inept, failure of government gives us more of the same.
The only way for our economy to get back on track is to elect leaders who understand and appreciate the individual and societal rewards that come with risk takers and successful business owners.