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Should a Government Be Run Like a Corporation, Essay Example

Pages: 3

Words: 894

Essay

Should a government be run like a corporation? John Harvey of Forbes says no. He says, “We should no more want the government to be run like a business than a business to be run like the government (2012).” But when countries who have managed to run their governments like businesses, specifically countries like Dubai and Singapore, one could argue governments could benefit from this model. The following will show why running government like a business, even assessing Singapore as an example, is not the best method for national or global affluence and prosperity.

The people who popularize the idea that a government should be run like a business believe that government is more efficient. Harvey says, “the entity in question would lose market share and go bankrupt(Harvey, 2012).” He notes that in business only the strong survive, but this is an issue because government agencies have no backlash. He says, “this is why we have long lines to get driver’s licenses, poorly maintained VA hospitals, inferior returns on investment from Social Security, etc (Harvey, 2012).”Another issue with running a government like a business is that it’s expected to turn a profit. Harvey notes that, “not everything that is profitable is of social value and not everything of social value is profitable (Harvey, 2012).” The examples he uses are comparing industries like Reality TV, pornography, sports, fashion and gambling, which are morally questionable but profitable to  the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, police department, fire department, libraries, parks, and public schools, which could not exists if they were expect to turn profit. It’s clear society would not be able to function effectively without these services. So how has Singapore become so successful at running their government like a business.

Josh Newall, in his article “Singapore Inc.” noted that “So how has Singapore become such a dominant player in the global economy? The country is run like a corporation. Singaporeans have agreed to sacrifice many political rights in return for economic growth (Newall, 2011).” He goes on to point out that when Singapore became independent in 1965, their leaders recognized a growing need to be competitive in the global market so they implemented what Newall calls “smart state intervention,” which was basically free market economics with little to no state intervention. Newll also mentions how the country held off on opening up its borders for international trade, keeping it all domestic until they could produce whole products without being forced to compete by just shipping raw materials. One of the key advantages to privatizing the government and running it based on free market capitalism is that leaders become more effective and efficient. The author Cole Couture notes that “Singapore pays its public-sector employees vastly better than most countries: the prime minister is paid $2.5 million per year, about six times what Barack Obama makes, and mid-level bureaucrats are likewise paid well relative to other countries (Couture, 2011).” This is an enticing notion that privatizing the government could ultimately result in more qualified leaders.  Shane Joseph argues that democratically Singapore is not the best example of a fully functioning democracy.

In his articles “Can a Government run like a Corporation?” Shane Joseph notes that if it is possible Singapore would be a great example of how it could work, but even Singapore is not without its failures. On a Democratic level, Singapore’s politics are questionable and this could be due to the fact that the government is run like a business (R.C., 2012). “The country has an elected parliament and universal suffrage – indeed, voting is required by law. However, since the People’s Action Party has won every election since the country was founded, one might be forgiven for seeing the control of the city-state as rather centralized. The absence of jury trials and a particular fondness for the death penalty doesn’t help the not-quite-democratic impressions, either (Joseph 2011).” This is all very telling of the effects that privatizing the government can have on it democratic values. It’s understandable that if a government is being run like a corporation that many democratic values involved with the electoral process might be overlooked. This is more like developing an oligarchy or a different system of government.

In sum, the main reason why government should not be run like a business, despite the successes of Singapore, is that not all countries are Singapore and governments don’t face backlash. With free market capitalism, companies either thrive or go bankrupt, but with the economy of nations if a government fails to produce sufficient revenues, it goes into perpetual debt. In the example of Singapore, while the country has proven there are some benefits to a free market economy, and privatization of government, it has also shown that democratic values can falter. There are too many aspects of society, such as national security, parks and recreations, and the arts that would be sacrificed if a government becomes privatized. In addition to economic success, Singapore is an example of that as well.

Work Cited

Couture, C. (2011). Running a country like a business. The Stern Opportunity, Retrieved from http://www.sternopportunity.com/running-a-country-like-a-business-1.2160575

C., R. (2011). Not fade away . The Economist, Retrieved from http://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2011/05/singapore_politics

Harvey, J. T. (2012). Why government should not be run like a business. Forbes, Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/johntharvey/2012/10/05/government-vs-business/

Joseph, S. (2011). Can a government run like a corporation?. BrooWaha, Retrieved from http://www.broowaha.com/articles/11355/can-a-government-run-like-a-corporation

Newall, J. (2011). Singapore inc. TOTAL ECON, Retrieved from http://totalecon.com/archives/528

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