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Monday, 14 November 2011

The Business of Government

Amid the din of economic nonsense being bandied about since 2008, there has been the persistent refrain that the States should be run more like a business. If only more business people were in charge to wield their business acumen, we would have this country in shape in no time. But is that a good solution?

Businesses seek primarily to increase their revenues and profits. Government revenue depends on taxes. Government accumulates taxmoney by squeezing it out of people's productive earnings with threats of audits, fines and imprisonment. Our government already collects roughly £600 million annually from the productive taxpayers of Jersey. We hardly need to increase our government's revenues like a private business.

According to Marvel Comics The Taxman is the
"Collector for the City's most ruthless protection racket.
A man who delights in squeezing his victims dry!"
Businesses sell products or services to voluntary buyers, always looking to increase their market share as much as possible. But what is the government's product or service? Rules, regulations, bureaucracy, paperwork, red tape, hoops to jump through, uneven protection and security, coercion and compliance through force and confiscation of assets, and of course a vast welfare system. Do we need more of these government services? Hardly. In fact, we have far too many of these destructive things already.

What we need is more freedom. Freedom is the simple ability of people to live their lives as they see fit without government coercion, provided they do not initiate force or fraud against others. What we really need is a less coercive government, not more revenues.

Government needs to stop seeing itself as a growth industry, and realize that the true function of government is to protect liberty. The States certainly has expanded and grown and accumulated a great deal of the people's capital for itself, but this has been at the expense of our island's prosperity. This trend needs to be reversed.

We don't need yet another "jobs" program to supposedly put the people back to work. Politicians need to realize that, aside from the outright hiring people, government does not create jobs. The only thing government does is hinder job creation by getting in the way and consuming otherwise private resources. Therefore, the most useful thing government can do for long term unemployment is to "liquidate" much of what government does in the first place.

Businesses create jobs. Government is not a business. We don't need more stimulus or phony jobs. We don't need more revenue - £600 million is plenty to fund the government annually. What we do need is a wholesale rejection of government as a central economic planner.