I’m reading a fascinating book called “The Seventh Sense.” I highly recommend it, as it does an amazing job of providing a historic context for the revolutionary changes taking place in our lives.
A key concept in the book is that networks are eliminating the relationship between physical distance and time. Consider our instant communication, how stock markets can crash almost instantly, how videos go viral, and how commerce happens in the blink of an eye.
The increasing power and speed of networks is transforming our world, and making almost everything more efficient than ever before.
And yet, the government is a rare relic of inefficiency, slowness, and ever-growing cost.
That’s why shrinking and reforming government will be a key fight of our time
Consider this: Much of what the government does is deploy individuals to a location and distribute money throughout a database of individuals. Government collects financial data (taxes) and distributes that data in a tangible or digital form (money) to individuals (government workers, bureaucrats, contractors, etc).
Financial data collection and distribution is exactly what computers are for, and a look around the private sector makes that clear. Look at Amazon – which manages a gigantic worldwide distribution network with a relatively small number of employees. Wal-Mart manages a vast global supply chain – utilizing an advanced computer system to ensure proper stocking of stores.
Uber and Lyft have shown that all you need to run a transportation system is an app, and people willing to share the location of their car with other people on the shared network.
Airbnb has shown you just need a smartphone and a well-managed network to build a massive decentralized network and provide lodging for travellers.
In all of these examples you’ll note the fact that they can grow and scale their operations without massive spending increases. The bigger they get, the more efficient they become.
The trend behind all of these advances is that more is being done with less. More efficiency, less spending.
Government is the opposite, the bigger it gets, the more inefficient it becomes
Government taxes us more every year and delivers less and less. Every year they hire more government employees, and then demand more money again, saying they’re running out of money.
Here’s the problem: Government itself has become an ideology. A large segment of people, in all political parties, have simply accepted that we must have a massive, bloated government. They tweak a bit around the edges, but the government monolith remains unchallenged and unquestioned.
This overbearing, inefficient system restricts the freedom and potential prosperity of our people.
For our society to truly advance, that will have to change. We have to question, challenge, and rethink the basis of government itself.
In our era of advancing computing power and information management systems, how does it make sense to have an expansive bureaucracy?
We need to move out of that mindset, and expand our range of options.
Rather than just freezing government spending, we need to ask whether it could be cut dramatically? Could we manage our society with government consuming only 10 or 15% of GDP, rather than 30 or 40%?
These are the questions we must ask. This will be a key challenge of our time.
The old government structure remains powerful, and they will not go down without a fight, even as technology renders them more and more a relic of a past era.
A future of greater prosperity and freedom is possible if we embrace a new perspective, and think beyond the rigid and inefficient way our government functions today.
It won’t be easy, but it must be done.
Photo – Twitter