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Why I trust business over government

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By Jim Thompson
HCP columnist

Ironically, one of the primary reasons I trust business over government is because of the laws and regulations governments have passed. The laws and regulations hold private businesses accountable for their behavior but often, ironically, do not apply to the very government that passed them.

The other main reason is free markets. One of the most powerful regulations that hold private business in check are those that prevent businesses from acting in a monopolistic fashion. This gives us freedom of choice and, thus, if we don’t like the products or services provided by one business, we can go to another. It would be great if governments were forced to live this way.

On the government side, for example, look at the office that issues vehicle license tags and driver’s license renewals. Such offices are the brunt of many a joke and the angst of many a user. Why is this? These offices have no competition. If you want a tag or a new driver’s license, there is only one place to get it – your local license office. If you don’t like their service or their prices, tough luck.

Schools are the same way, except in those areas where charter schools have been allowed. However, if the law is such that the parents cannot extract their public-school tax money to send their children to a private school, the freedom of choice is only half imparted.

We just went through an election, and if I am disappointed in anything, it is the casual and easily influenced attitude of the voter, who is the hiring party, the human resource department if you will.

In business, hiring someone is taken very seriously and if a mistake is made, it can be quickly corrected. In elections, the voter can often be unqualified, from a training point, to choose; and the candidates can be unqualified to serve. The next opportunity to change is two, four or six years away.

Businesses have many more options if a poor choice has been made by mistake. In government, poor choices are often hidden by a pretty speech.

Public schools were established first and foremost to educate the voters so they would have the ability to make intelligent choices on election day. This has turned into a complete charade – many make their voting choices based on what the politicians promise them. And should the politicians not be able to keep their promises, they are not fired, they just get some slick public relations specialist to write them a rosy speech about how they misspoke and are contrite.

In business, the promises made by employees, if not fulfilled, can result in their speedy firing. There is no quick dismissal for bad politicians.

In the just past election, the lack of responsibility on the part of the voters was highlighted when in Pennsylvania a dead person was reelected to office. It’s basic: If you don’t know enough to know which candidates are alive and which are dead, please don’t vote.

The root cause broken issue in our country is the lack of accountability on the part of the voters and the politicians. The voters do not know or care about choosing qualified candidates, and anyone meeting the most basic eligibility requirements can be a candidate. This is no more apparent than in the area of global warming, an extremely complicated subject, where it is obvious most politicians don’t know a thermometer from a teapot.

In government, lying your way out of poor performance is accepted. It is part of an overall malaise in our country that treats nothing as serious, nothing has consequences and no one as accountable.

Private business, where poor products and poor services have consequences, there is a better chance of pleasing the customer and achieving more economical results for the customer. For businesses, fail at these basics enough and you will be out of business. What a great motivator.

Hence, I trust businesses more than governments. Bad businesses are automatically purged from the system; bad governments just add more bureaucracy and make more meaningless speeches.

Jim Thompson, formerly of Marshall, is a graduate of Hillsboro High School and the University of Cincinnati. He resides in Duluth, Ga. and is a columnist for The Highland County Press. He may be reached at

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