If Businesses Don’t Serve Customers Well, They Go Out of Business. Government, on the Other Hand, is a Monopoly.

Illustration: despardes.com

John Stossel at Reason: In my new video, economist Ed Stringham argues that no government can ever work well, because “even the best person can’t implement change….The massive bureaucracy gets bigger and slower.”

I learned that as a consumer reporter watching bureaucrats regulate business. Their rules usually made life worse for consumers. Yet politicians want government to do more!

Remember the unveiling of Obamacare’s website? Millions tried to sign up. The first day, only six got it to work. Vice President Joe Biden made excuses: “Neither [Obama] and I are technology geeks.”

Stringham points out, “If they can’t design a basic simple website, how are they going to manage half the economy?”

While bureaucrats struggled with the Obamacare site, the private sector successfully created Uber and Lyft, platforms like iCloud, apps like Waze, smartwatches, etc.

The private sector creates things that work because it has to. If businesses don’t serve customers well, they go out of business. But government is a monopoly. It never goes out of business. With no competition, there’s less pressure to improve.

Often good people join government. Some work as hard as workers in the private sector. But not for long. Because the bureaucracy’s incentives kill initiative. If a government worker works hard, he might get a small raise. But he sits near others who earn the same pay and, thanks to archaic civil service rules, are unlikely to get fired even if they’re late, lazy, or stupid.

Over time, that’s demoralizing. Eventually government workers conclude, “Why try?”

In the private sector, workers must strive to make things better. If they don’t, competitors will, and you might lose your job. Governments never go out of business. “Companies can only stay in business if they always keep their customer happy,” Stringham points out. “Competition pushes us to be better. Government has no competition.”

I push back: “Politicians say, ‘Voters can vote us out.'”

“With a free market,” Stringham replies, “the consumer votes every single day with the dollar. Under politics, we have to wait four years.”

More here.