The Enduring Myth That Government Should Be Run Like a Business

The election of Donald Trump should remind us — again — of the vast difference between managing a company and running a government.

government-like-business-pexels-photo-30342-no-att-reqBy Philip Joyce | Governing

There were many and varied reasons behind the election of Donald Trump as president, but certainly one argument, heard time and again, contributed to his appeal: that the federal government was such a mess that the solution was to run it “like a business” and that the way to accomplish that was to elect a successful corporate executive. Now that the presidential transition is upon us, many of the people being selected or mentioned as cabinet appointees have stronger ties to the private sector than the public sector.

Trump is not the first politician, by any means, to benefit from this claim. Numerous successful state and local candidates have made similar cases during their runs for office. Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner’s argument in his successful gubernatorial campaign centered around his business success. Three decades before that, fast-food magnate John Y. Brown successfully argued that he should be elected governor of Kentucky so that he could run the state like he had run Kentucky Fried Chicken.


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December 2016