8 things that governments do that they shouldn’t.

1. Governments advertise. This is manipulative. The government should not be able to manipulate people’s minds. They should announce their policies in press releases, and defend their policies in a democratic forum… like parliament, for example.

2. Governments interfere in labour disputes. Labour relationships are complicated, and government involvement in them unfairly shifts the balance of power to one side or the other. Strikes are costly, but avoidable through proper negotiation and realistic disclosure of information between the two negotiating parties.

3. Governments give away control of important infrastructure to the private sector. Industries like utilities, defence, policing, health care, road clearing, education and the legal system are best kept in control of the people, rather than relinquished to companies that have a profit mandate. If for-profit corporations run things, there is a risk that they will put their profit motive over the needs of the people. For example, no person should ever be denied heat in their building just because they’re poor. No person should ever be denied medical help, education or legal counsel.

4. Governments confer favours upon rich lobbyists. They should not award contracts to their friends, but should put all contracts out to tender. They should never hire firms whose founders have done political favours for them. This corrupts politics. Rather, what governments should do is weigh the costs and benefits of every policy through the lens of how it whom will benefit or suffer and how much. They should always keep in mind that the poor have very little that they can afford to lose, whereas the rich can afford much more.

5. Governments forget whom they serve. They should not lose sight of their mandate to serve the people. They should listen to the voice of the people, and prioritize policy in terms of how it addresses needs.

6. Governments moralize over who “deserves” what. Governments should not favour the rights of certain individuals over others. For example, the safety of people on the street should be given equal importance to the safety of people in expensive neighbourhoods. Unemployed people addicted to crystal meth should not be judged less worthy of the benefits of society than lawyers addicted to alcohol.

7. Governments waste money on politicking. They should spend money on the business of government, and not on protecting their political brand. They should be judged on the merits of their policy and not on the spin they create.

8. Governments control the flow of information. In a democracy, everything that government does, especially every dollar that it spends, should be a matter of public record. It should be impossible for a Prime Minister’s or Premier’s office to spend money on an issue without full disclosure to the public.

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