The role of government and beyond

We have come to it at last: The presidential election. The votes are in; we, the American people, have made a decision. We have been presented with two essentially different options for president of these United States. One of them offered us a continuation of the status quo: gradually build more government into the picture, whether that is in healthcare or the economy or schools. The other offered us something quite different. The other offered us a different kind of role of the federal government: one that offers assistance when direly needed, but otherwise does its best to keep itself out of the lives of Americans.

Since its inception, America has maintained that there should be a limited government, but specifics are left out of the picture. This leaves a question on the table which shall not soon leave: how much is too much? Where is the dividing line? How can we know how much government is too much and how can know if we have enough?

There is not an easy answer to this question, and few will give you a definitive answer. That said, I would like to proffer a rule of thumb: Could the private sector do it better? If the answer is yes, generally, then the government should stay out of it. Notable exceptions include national defense and intelligence community funding.

The rationale for doing so is simple: when money is on the line, people perform better. If a mistake is going to cost you your job, you are going to do a better-than-mediocre performance of your work. If the government were run like a business, turnover of the current workforce would soar. Inefficiencies would be exposed and terminated. A classic case of this principle is housing. A public housing project in NYC was in absolute despair: poor maintenance, poor construction, poor service, and nobody cared. The government got so fed up with it that, in a last-ditch effort to save it, they turned control over to a private firm. Within weeks, the project looked nothing as it had before: repairs were made, fixtures were built, and a reliable method of requesting maintenance was implemented. Since people could now speak with their money, the housing company had to deliver. If they did not, they would be booted. The government, on the other hand, had no such ímpetus.

Either extreme is dangerous. Too much government will mean a reduced incentive to work and produces numerous massive inefficiencies. Too little government breeds anarchy and the mindset that people can do anything they please. We must truly strive to discover the medium of a limited but effective government.

Will our president offer us a way to do so?