APPEL: Yes, You Can Run Government Like A Business

In my dozen years in politics, I heard all the time that government could not be run like a business. Of course, when hearing such I always had to consider the source and the source was invariably a liberal Democrat or a populist faux conservative.

I suppose that such barriers to reform were raised because of a skewed view of government. They did not view government as the source of services that only the resources of the state could effectively and efficiently deliver. Instead, their view of government was as a funnel through which wealth was to be transferred from one segment of society to another, all the while ignoring how public-sector waste and inefficiency took its cut.

A business could not be successful if run like modern government runs, but do not believe that government could not run like a business, it absolutely can and it should.

Characteristics of business that should be expected from effective government, characteristics that are ignored when thinking in terms of government as the purveyor of wealth transfer, are vision, strategy, frugality, metrics, measurement and flexibility, a wholistic perspective, and dedication. In my time rarely were such concepts considered when government policy was concerned.

Let me cite an example. Progressives say we cannot arrest our way out of the crime epidemic. Yet their solution is always the same, keep doing more of what we have always done and pay more for it, all the while ignoring that soaring criminal activity has been spurred on by easy justice policies. They view criminals as victims of the American way and therefore criminals should not be accountable for their own choices.

If government were a business, there would be a two-pronged approach to public safety. First, in the short-term, incarceration would be the only solution for those who of their own volition chose to endanger society by ignoring its laws. Reality is that if someone is so prone and they are in jail they simply cannot commit more crimes. Therefore, clearly incarceration protects society.

But that is only part of a businesslike approach. The other part is to define the fundamental problem and fix it. In this case the problem is fairly clear, so many, especially inner-city young people, are committing crime because they see few prospects for their personal future. The cities are not creating the economic avenues to prosperity necessary to offer young people alternatives to criminal activity, so they choose the effortless way, the cool way, the criminal way.

In the short term to protect society and the economy we must remove from society those who we have failed and who have in turn failed us, but in the longer term we must create an economy that offers a lifeline of prosperity for all.


Short-term, long-term concepts are by their nature intractably linked. Neither works without the other, and neither works if society ignores the other. Do not lock up criminals and crime soars, do not provide opportunities and crime soars. Lock up societal deviants, fix the economy, and crime diminishes.

Soft hearted liberals will cringe at such an approach. They will fall all over themselves in an effort to seek protection in their argument that government cannot be run in a business-like manner. To them that would simply be unfair. The problem for them is that life is unfair, and history demonstrates that they are dreaming of a La La Land that falls outside of human nature. Public safety demands a different approach, a businesslike approach to government based upon well respected principles that have underpinned society for thousands of years.

So, think about this, do we just keep doing the same things, do we believe that the philosophy of government as espoused by my liberal and Populist friends has any hope of helping the majority of our people be safe and prosper? Not a chance. So, let us try something different, let us define policy guided by those principles under which we would run a business.

Anyway we really cannot lose. Doing the same things over and over, has failed over and over!



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