Tuesday, January 25, 2011

One way government should be run like a business

When a public corporation has its annual shareholder meeting, and the shareholders vote for a certain number of board members, to approve the auditing accounting firm, and such other business that may come before meeting,  the results are almost always announced as the number of shares voting for a proposal out of the number of shares outstanding.  It's been a while since I attended a shareholder meeting, but I don't remember if they give the number of votes withheld or abstaining for a proposal.  I don't think they were.

Wouldn't it be great if the results for elections for public office where announced similarly?  It would be a bit of guesswork as to how many eligible voters there were, but the number of registered voters is known.

Then we might get newspapers reporting that a presidential candidate received 44 million of the votes of the 140 million registered voters.  Reporting like this would give pause to any declaration of mandates or the will of the people.

Of course, we don't want some of the other goings on of corporate elections.

The board chooses a single slate of candidates for each election and recommends that shareholders vote for these candidates.  We wouldn't be happy if we had a single list of candidates for the legislatures that were picked by the legislatures.

The board hires and fires the chief executive officer, who often also sits on the board.  We would not be happy if the legislatures hired and fired the governors or the president.

The board also sets its own compensation.  Few complain about this, but hoo boy!, let the legislatures raise their salaries and the newspapers are flooded with letters.

Corporations don't have one person, one vote, but one share, one vote.  The person with one million shares has a lot more clout than the person with one hundred shares.  If we were to run government like a business, maybe we should have one vote for each dollar of taxes paid.  Gosh, that sounds like a great way to raise taxes.