One of the most pervasive myths of the past half-century is that all of what ails government could be solved if only it was run like a business. Costs would be trimmed. Timelines would be met. Methods would be efficient and effective. People who spent years, decades, of their lives within government could not fix the behemoth they functioned in. Only a businessman could do it.
The election of Donald Trump and eight months (only eight months y’all) of turmoil since his inauguration have proven this myth to be, unequivocally and undeniably, just that – a myth.
The “Government as Business” experiment has failed.
Let’s start from the top. Government as Business is cursed from its very beginning, when millions of Americans are allowed to choose the CEO. This is a model unlike any you’d see at a Fortune 500 company. In business, leaders are chosen based on experience, qualifications, knowledge of the industry – and they’re chosen by people who have demonstrated understanding of the very same. If Amazon all of a sudden decided to ask America to elect someone to replace Jeff Bezos, we’d all fear for our Prime Membership lives. To run the government as a business would mean hiring the best candidate for the job of President. That candidate would have run health and women’s right initiatives as a First Lady for eight years before serving as a US Senator and Secretary of State.
Alas, the Venn diagram of Government as Business voters and Hillary Clinton voters is just two unjoined circles. We have already failed at Government as Business.
But wait – there’s more. Even if we did have an actually successful and intelligent businessperson in the White House, and not some money-grubbing, contract-shirking, bankruptcy-claiming orange turd who inherited all his money and real estate, they’d quickly find that they could not run the government in the way they’d run their business.
Businesses exist to make money. The government exists to spend money. These are two fundamentally different models, and one cannot be run like the other. A business is run by a very few people who make decisions with shareholder profits in mind. A government is run by a lot of people who make decisions with all 320+ million Americans in mind (or at least, that’s how it’s supposed to work). The measure of a good business is in its quarterly earnings. The measure of a good nation is in its freedoms, civil rights, and citizen well-being – and those things cost money. It costs money to open polling locations, provide access to health care, invest in infrastructure. The government is supposed to care about people. Businesses don’t.
Finally, as our illustrious orange turd is quickly learning, the very foundations of government keep it from functioning like business. Running a certified Government as Business, at least in the way avid Apprentice viewers and MAGA-hat-wearing crowds envisioned, meant laying out demands and expecting the entire government to fall into line behind them. Thankfully, the Founding Fathers (in their infinite wisdom) created a nation with three coequal branches of government to protect the people from the whims of a madman. No matter how much Donnie T wishes he could make Congress fund his asinine border wall, that’s not how government works. The President doesn’t have hiring and firing power over elected officials. The American people do.
Even in a world where it was feasible for government to run as business, find me one person who thinks this is what a successful one looks like. A crazy-tweeting CEO who’s constantly off-message, employee after employee quitting or being fired or some combination of the two, no successes to speak of, a 38% approval rating?
A failed experiment indeed.