Daniel Howes, Detroit News columnist recently published a rambling column discussing the parallels of the Detroit Automakers comeback (as illustrated by their Super Bowl ads) and the city of Detroit and its potential comeback. The column was fairly innocuous stuff until these two paragraphs:
Yes, I know the convenient dodge from those who would prefer to avoid the obvious parallels between running an automaker into the ground and running a municipal government into the ground: government is not a business.
Wrong. Both succeed and fail on the strength (or weakness) of managing reality, dollars and cents, not some mythical ideal that exists only in gauzy memory or an eighth-grade civics class. Neither business nor government can allow expenses to consistently outstrip revenue for too long, cannot charge customers or taxpayers more and deliver less, without inviting serious existential consequences.
So many things wrong with the above paragraphs.
Starting with the most fundamental flaw: business adds value by producing something (a product or service) and creates wealth, government can only take wealth (through the force of law) from one group of people and give it to another, adding no value and creating no wealth.