Should government act like a business?

Cody Housch

Here’s something I hear more of than I should: “The government should be run like a business.” Many people have this idea that the Fed should be run like FedEx.

Well I’ve got news for you: it shouldn’t. You know what governments should be run like?


Both are large entities with many employees and run by a hierarchy of command but there are some quintessential differences between the two: the first being that the peons in the mail room don’t get to decide who sits in the board meetings.

We don’t need Congress to elect its own members. This is how businesses keep rewarding only the social and financial elite. Governments need diversity, and choice, and different voices.

So why do we keep saying it? Well it kind of makes some sense. From the outside you think that a business and a government should run the same way. Both should have the ultimate goal of being successful and should extend support to all the people that contribute to it. It should be efficient, and it should be fair, and hard workers should be rewarded.  

The problem is that companies aren’t really like that, are they? They reward people who fit best into their ideal, they keep hard workers in positions that need hard work done and the see everybody as expendable if their value is less than the bottom line. I certainly don’t see employers fighting for the rights of their employees. Walmart and McDonalds make the news all the time for trying to give their employees less.

Also, governments should have some level of social support. Not charity, businesses do that so you’ll forgive them when they dump 210 million gallons of crude oil into the place where you swim and get your food. No, governments should be providing some level of support to their people that isn’t necessary because governments understand that they are judged by how they treat the least fortunate among their citizens, that’s why we require wheel chair ramps and provide food stamps to people who can’t afford to buy bread. A corporation would simply look for a way to fire those parasites, like maybe random drug tests. Oh, wait, the government tried to do that didn’t they?

Yes, the problem I’m seeing right now is that the government seems to think it should be run like a business, at least one political party thinks that way. I’ve got more news for you, the government runs two businesses already: AmTrack and the United States Postal Service, both of which have been threatening to shut down for the last two decades and everybody throws a fit when the price of stamps goes up even when they haven’t used a stamp in two years.

We don’t like businesses, really. We see them as big heartless corporate giants that swing clubs at the helpless townspeople. Governments cannot be heartless, or cruel, or have a bottom line. We have a word for that: dystopia.