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Stick to your core

April 5, 2009

I’m feeling quite intelligent today and since I don’t have a politician’s ego, I actually think about doing the right thing (trying to at least). As opposed to simply getting votes.

So it occurs to me that like many businesses, U.S. government at all levels, has made a classic operations mistake. It expanded its “business” beyond what it does and knows how to do best. Its core mission.

Isn’t the core mission of government to serve taxpayers? And by serve, wasn’t the intent things like police, fire, education, transportation, military? Those are the things government does best–better than private can do.

Yet somewhere along the line (and my guess it was during an election year) government stepped outside its core mission. Someone thought, we’re doing so well with all that, why not do more? And of course that person won said election and the push was on for all elected officials to expand government services and assure re-election.

Private businesses that expanded their business lines when the economy was booming, are scaling back now, returning to their core mission…to what they do best. Government must follow that example.

Is there a cost, a human cost to doing that? Absolutely! Votes will be lost. Some taxpayers will need to step up and meet their own needs. For those truly unable to provide for their needs, government can and should be there.

It’s clear there is no more revenue to be had for a while. Just as government is after private businesses to change their models, it must find ways to cut its costs and that means services outside the scope of government’s core mission. If it could do and did those things well, perhaps deficits and budget shortfalls would not scream at us from every corner.

We need today’s elected officials to be brave leaders. Leading means doing it right, and sometimes that means tough decisions. It requires visionaries who can see beyond today or tomorrow, and instead of slapping “band-aids” on the economic business, they force the rehab that keeps us “clean and sober” for generations to come.

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