Are Business Principles and Politics Incompatible?

Why are we so willing to accept so much less from the public sector?

Business principles and politics have never been compatible much to the detriment of th20163804_mle public-sector. All one needs to do is take a look at how our exalted politicians and bureaucrats manage the people’s business to confirm that. Congress’s inability to address even the most basic of issues confronting us today is more than indicative of their ineptitude, it exposes a system mired in convolution, quid pro quo, and blatant ostentation.

In business the process is simple. If something is broken or even if it’s just not running quite as well as it should the powers-that-be get together and fix it. If it still doesn’t work they get rid of it and find a new solution. Problems are identified and fixed, goals achieved, and objectives reached or the business slips quickly and surely into obscurity. Remember Pan Am, Woolworths, and Plymouth? Whatever happened to Montgomery Wards?

Why are we so willing to accept so much less from the public sector and our politicians than we would ever accept from private enterprise?

Give a politician a problem to solve and they will find fifty ways to compound it and confound it. A simple solution can’t exist because then the problem would be fixed, and apparently there is nothing that expands a politician’s worth more than an intractable problem. Our politicians and public servants have become very adept at diverting our attention with the old slight-of-hand – first you see it, and then you don’t. What cup is the real issue under?  Problems seldom get addressed until everyone has piled all of their baggage on that political train. As a result, the typical bill going through Congress these days has so many amendments and riders attached it looks like a television ad for some amazing new drug, with more side-affects than cure. Its little wonder that nothing worthwhile gets done.

If our objectives are really to resolve the immigration dilemma, cure the national debt, provide universal health care (at least at some level), and eliminate poverty in America, then we need to be focused on those objectives without convoluting the process. Are these problems not big enough that they need more moving parts and confusion? Even now, after an election that removed a number of ineffective incumbents, some of our politicians that survived are threatening to shut down the government as an alternative to their apparent inability to resolve the immigration issue. Is this problem so huge, so insurmountable that our so-called leaders must resort to the tactics of a suicidal maniac to accomplish their end? They do appear somewhat reminiscent of, Nero, who fiddled while Rome burned.

Fortunately, and regrettably, there is an example and lesson on the current political scene that our so called leaders can’t ignore. The unfortunate part of this opportunity is that it was created by a series of colossal failures in policy, leadership, and management at the second biggest bureaucracy in our nation’s government. The debacle at the Department of Veteran’s Affairs not only failed miserably to serve the interests of our veterans and the American people in general, and will no doubt cost billions of taxpayer dollars, it also cost untold human lives. Hopefully this failure of our political system to serve the interests of its constituents and customers will serve as a much needed warning to those overseeing our defense, social security, and health and welfare administrations, of the potential consequences of their current policies and behavior.

The new administration at the Department of Veteran’s Affairs may prove to be a shining beacon of hope, however. The new Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs, Bob McDonald, is a private-sector business leader who seems to have an understanding of what public service should be about, and the concept of putting the interests of the American people ahead of the political bureaucracy. He is already cleaning out the existing rats’ nest and transforming many of the Department’s business policies and practices. He is certain to face strong headwinds against change, and support for the status quo from the political-interests-that-be. Hopefully he will be able to stand up to both and ultimately apply some business acumen to the public-sector for a change.

Change is not always a comfortable process, but it is always inevitable. The world has evolved. And it’s time for our politicians and bureaucrats to recognize that perhaps evolution is not so bad. Unless, of course, you are one of those entities that is incapable of evolving. Ask a Cro-Magnon Man, if you can find one.

The Democrats took it on the chin this year losing a significant number of incumbents, and may be facing further extinction. The new Congress has an opportunity to move forward and resolve a number of deferred issues, and the Republicans would do well to remember that they will find themselves on the chopping block soon, with more than sixty Congressional incumbents seeking re-election in 2016. Remember American Motors? They couldn’t change either!

© Copyright 2014 James McV

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About James McV

Writer - Sailor - Adventurer - Philosopher - Idealist - Realist.... After a twenty + year career in the outdoor recreation and marina business I took off some years ago to sail around the world and re-create myself..... Now I'm back and in the process of writing two books, and paying attention once again to the world around me.
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