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Entrepreneuring the Role of Government

American flagDear Mr. / Ms. Politician:

A new political season has started. A new Congress is in power. In the last three national elections, We the People have tried to send you a message. With all due respect, we hope you finally get it. We want you to serve the people rather than special interests and your own self-interests.

Mission creep
We realize that the problem goes beyond Washington. It also applies to most States and many municipalities. It holds true for many quasi-governmental entities as well.

Over the last half century or so, your predecessors – aided by our lack of attention – have allowed a tremendous amount of mission creep in government. Without question, the intentions were honorable. But it isn’t working.

Like any recovering addict, we need to admit it before we can change it. And change is needed.

The result
We have many problems, not the least of which is a psychological recession. We’re the richest country in the world, yet there are people who still live in poverty. In spite of all the money we spend on education, we’re falling behind many other countries in the world. We’re losing our competitive edge and we need your help immediately.

We’ve grown tired of partisans who are supposed to be public servants. We’re repulsed by politicians who apparently don’t have substantive ideas and so resort to personal attacks.

The role of government
We’re not saying that government is bad. We believe there is a significant role for government in an entrepreneurial society like ours.

Government has (or should have) the lowest cost of capital of any institution. So government can afford to invest in projects that the private sector can’t. Government can afford to think longer term than any other organization.

Visionary leadership
Our favorite example is John Kennedy and the mission to put a man on the moon. In the first year of a new decade, he set the vision for the decade. He charged us to commit to putting a man on the moon and returning home safely. He said it would require sacrifice; good programs would be pushed aside. But this was important for our country’s place in the world. So he respectfully asked Congress to make the funds available to make it so.

Well, here we are … at the start of a new decade. If we can put a man on the moon within a decade, we can certainly solve the challenges of today!

Thinking entrepreneurially
We need entrepreneurial politicians at all levels of government! We need you to think like an entrepreneur! It won’t be easy. But nothing worthwhile ever is.

First, you must put our house in order. We need to reverse entrepreneur government. We need to ask hard questions about how we got here. We need to seek honest feedback about the return on investment we’ve achieved, both in financial and human terms. We need robust dialogue, with a spirit of bipartisanship and a single underlying entrepreneurial purpose: to create value for the governed.   

Once you have spending under control, we need a long-term vision for growth. We need to make investments in tomorrow’s infrastructure, not yesterday’s.

We need to buck up our support systems – communities, neighborhoods, local businesses, non-profits, churches and families. These critical elements to our society have been harmed by the growth of government. We need entrepreneurs in all of these areas to find solutions to the challenges that government hasn’t been able to overcome.

Class warfare – designed to win elections – must be a thing of the past. The middle class isn’t suffering because the rich don’t pay enough in taxes. We need entrepreneurs in education who can make the most of the resources at their disposal.  

The Great Recession isn’t the result of tax rates that are too low. It’s a mixture of perverse incentives in the financial community along with regulatory problems from Washington. Ironically, the regulatory problem is both too much and too little.

We need more entrepreneurs to create opportunities for all. Regulation can kill entrepreneurship. It’s often designed to do so – by industry insiders and, sadly, by politicians and governmental bureaucrats. Regulation should be designed to protect the public without discouraging worthy competition.  

We realize that all of this can’t – and, in fact, shouldn’t – be done instantly. To make it happen, we need you to be the living definition of a public servant. We need you to put the people before your party. We need you to be a leader. We need you to think beyond the next election. We need you to envision a decade ahead. We need you to be an entrepreneur in government. We need a government that creates value!

And we all need to remember that, as citizens, the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” exist in tandem with personal responsibility.