democracy or efficiency: there can be only one

What is your ideal vision of how to run a country, America?

Is it to have an efficient government, that is run like a business?

Or is it to have a democracy?

You have to pick one, because it cannot be both.

There is a reason that successful companies have a CEO, or a board of directors. There is a reason that the big decisions about the direction of the company aren’t made by taking a vote in the mail room or on the factory floor. The fantasy that everyone can have an equal voice in figuring out how to run society and that the result will be a process that is efficient (either in terms of cost, or rate of progress over time) is exactly that: a fantasy. The most “efficient” form of government is always a dictatorship.

And yet this is where we are in the current political “moment” of our culture today. We have people screaming that they want the American Ideal to be an efficient government that is run like a business… and that we want to have a country where our voices are heard. Well, I’m sorry America: it doesn’t work that way. You can’t have both.

It’s important to understand the contradiction between those two ideals explicitly, because we have to get rid of this fake and false notion that “efficient” is always better, when it comes to government.  That is the wrong way of measuring the success of a society. Regulations are not “efficient” for a company, but they stop factories from making toys that kill our children.  Minimum wage is not “efficient” for a company, but it stops sweatshops from taking advantage of desperate and disadvantaged people. Workplace safety laws are not “efficient” for a company, but the mean that fewer factory workers are maimed and fewer miners die.  Making something more “efficient” isn’t always the measure of success.