Thursday, October 4, 2012

Should Government Help Grow Business or Get Out of the Way?


That seemed to be the substance of the Presidential Debate.  And that is a good question which I will try to answer in a round-about way.

I have been in several churches in my life.  They have 256Wall_House2ranged in governing philosophy from putting walls around activities that lead to harm to a strategy of giving us information and allowing us to make the decision. In other words from Puritan to . . . well whatever is the opposite.

The church I am in right now falls in the latter category.  The leaders and pastors are there to enable the congregation in doing the work of ministry.  How it works out is not setting out a list of rules or avoidances, but learning to listen to God as he speaks through scripture, through others, and through His Spirit. 

This is both an easier and more difficult way to live.  If I am given rules, I don’t have to think, don’t have to worry, don’t have to wrestle.  I need only obey.  Without rules, I have to think and wrestle with decisions which is better for me.

So how does that relate to government?  Like the church I am in, it works better if it enables the citizens to function freely .  .  . by getting out of the way.  Government does some things well: provides defense and security, maintains communication and roads, and carries on relationships with other governments.  But running a business is something that a government cannot do well.  Government functions best when it is inefficient.  Businesses must be efficient.  Inefficiency is good for government and bad for business.  Our founders knew that when they created an inefficient Tri-cameral body:  Executive, Legislative, and Judicial.  When government moves slowly, it moves best.

Business is different.  Business must have a leader, a decision-maker who can make business decisions on the fly.  Businesses have to take risks.  Business cannot function like a government or it will fail.  Government cannot run a profitable business—it can’t seem to run itself without incurring massive debt.  And an unprofitable debt-ridden business is no business at all. 

Government can help grow business best when it stays out of the way and lets business people run businesses. 



Wall image By Wenkbrauwalbatros (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

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