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Editorial: Can government truly be run like a business?

Jay Albrecht
Wednesday, Sep 5, 2012

We often hear business people argue until they’re blue in the face about how government should be run more like a good business. Likewise, some politicians, especially during election cycles, will use that as a major piece of their rhetoric when trying to woo voters.

The real question is…just how likely and possible is that to pull off? Given pressure from constituents of all varieties and the “normal” messed up way the political system tends to work, especially at the federal level, can our legislators ever get past all the hurdles to actually put good business sense to work?

It seems even good business people, those who have built or been a significant part of strong companies, often lose their way after achieving an election victory. There must be something to the incredible intimidation and overwhelming amount of information that comes from being a senator, representative or other elected official at virtually any level of government.

This is just some of what I was thinking as I listened to Tennessee’s U.S. Senator Bob Corker (Rep.) speak to a public forum in mid-August. I’ll make no bones about the fact that I like Senator Corker and what he stands for as he represents Tennessee the best way he knows how. I really like the fact that he comes from a business background and seems to try hard to apply those same business principles to our federal government.

However, as I listened to him speak about issues facing America, his frustration level was obvious. Most of that angst centered around the fact that our country’s financial and overall economic situation was not good – and certain parts of it (medicare, social security) were facing possible bankruptcy years down the road if nothing is done now to fix it. Of course, Corker has his own ideas about what should be done, as does pretty much every member of Congress. But the real issue is the fact that Congress as a whole spends too much time playing politics and not enough time facing the real challenges of the day.

Any business that attempted to operate on such a deficit for the period of time this country has, and continually chooses to not put measures in place that fix the problem, would eventually go under. Any business that couldn’t control spending any better than America does would certainly be in financial crisis. Any business that has such poor leadership (far too much of Congress) would suffer greatly. Any business that doesn’t create and work from a timely budget that ensures more income than expenditures will fail.

While our nation’s president is effectively our CEO, and the one who largely sets the tenor for how our national business is operated, the fault also lies with Congress at the federal level and other elected officials at local levels who don’t see the big picture. Understanding it’s easier said than done to put quality business practices to use in government, it can be done with the right people making it happen. To me, it’s only logical that good business practices also equal good government largely across the board.

We need more business-thinking people like Senator Corker in Congress and at all levels of government, including at the top. This is a key election year, as is every election, for this very reason. No matter your party of choice, it is critical that you vote – and even more vital that you consider what’s really important to you when making the decision about who to put that checkmark beside when casting your ballot.

It’s time we bring good business back to government, in every way, and put “politics” aside. Our country and our businesses depend on it!

Jay Albrecht is the publisher of the Upper Cumberland Business Journal. He can be reached at or (931) 528-8852.

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