A political rant. Re: @fredwilson “Protecting Business”

The government has the following tools. It can 1. take money through taxes and fines
2. give money through subsidies and grants
3. create a government-ran enterprise to establish the baseline level of quality and price
4. regulate, i.e. create laws

I actually think that these tools are enough to solve such problems as health care reform, or telco business (the one @fredwilson brought up http://www.avc.com/a_vc/2009/11/protecting-business.html) I had a plan in mind that uses a combination of all of the above, and I could draft it right here, but I will skip it. I hope that there are enough smart people in the public offices who can create such a plan better than me. The main problem with our gov-t is not the lack of ideas but poor execution. It is just like when building a startup – the big original idea, that a company starts with and the big original problem that it targets is only 40% of success, the other 60% is execution and smaller original ideas that the come up with while solving smaller problems on the way to that goal. So, before we send our gov-t on to fail yet another trillion dollar plan, we need to fix the way it runs things.
Here’s how I think it should be ran.
Our gov-t needs to become more agile and flexible in the way it executes. I think that agile methodology which is now pretty much a standard in software startups can now be applied to economics and politics as well. One of the reasons why agile methodology emerged was the need to respond to fast pace of change in business environment. I will not recite it here, if anyone has not read it , here’s the link: http://agilemanifesto.org/. It seems to me that the pace of change of social, economic and political environment has caught up as well to the point where any gov-t plan that takes months to draft and years to execute is obsolete before the gov-t starts acting on it. Therefore, the gov-t has to adopt the principle of “responding to change over following a plan”. We need to establish a new system of accountability and execution in which failure will be spotted early on and plans can be adjusted quickly. Leave it to historians to figure out if a particular
plan was wrong to begin with or if conditions changed half way into execution. What our elected officials need to be focusing on is adjusting the plans according to the current results. If it is not working, analyze what’s not working, adjust it and move on.

Here’s a simulation example. Lets say, a certian health care reform passed and we have a public health insurance option. Lets assume that a year after the option is created, health care standards are starting to drop significantly. What gov-t should do is analyze the new environment and the reasons why the standards are falling and instead of spending another term in the office defending the original plan – adjust it. If they are falling because the providers are charging the same rates for less service – address this problem. If they are falling because providers choose to keep their margins up by saving to much on equipment and supplies – address this problem. If the health of the population is worsening because people choose to go to the hospital only when it is an emergency – address this problem, etc. Most importantly – be flexible, do not just allocate ## trillions for ## years. It’s like giving a startup three series of funding all at once. Of course it will fail! We seem to be focused too much on blaming our gov-t for yet another
failure and wasting our time looking for the reasons of such failure
either in the depths of hundred-paged legal documents, and blaming the
“values” and motives of the politicians who wrote the documents.

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