Can government be “run like a business”?
This is one of the biggest fallacies in the current political debate.
We are told, time and time again, that a candidate for public office is qualified because he or she has run a business. The assumption is that this makes them fit for government service. One only has to look at the failure of Rex Tillerson in the State Department to see that even the CEO of ExxonMobil didn’t have what it takes to do the job.
But to understand why this is, we need to look at what the job is.
What’s the job of government? Who is the customer?
Let’s answer this simply – the job of government is to serve the public in the public interest, or Common Good.
Unlike business, the government does not get to select which customer segments to serve and which segments to ignore. The government must serve all its citizens and constituents. When it fails to do so, it becomes dysfunctional.
Katherine Gehl and Michael Porter explain what’s going on in Why Competition in the Politics Industry is Failing America:
The starting point for understanding the problem is to recognize that our political system isn’t broken. Washington is delivering exactly what it is currently designed to deliver. The real problem is that our political system is no longer designed to serve the public interest, and has been slowly reconfigured to benefit the private interests of gain-seeking organizations: our major political parties and their industry allies.
Take a minute to let that sink in: The US political system does not serve the public interest (or the Common Good).
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