Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Government Distractions Are Also Bankrupting

Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Government Distractions Are Also Bankrupting

Article excerpt

INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY, A Los Angeles-based business newspaper, devotes a weekday column to "Leaders & Success." What's particularly relevant and fascinating about these biographical sketches (spanning the centuries and all fields of human endeavor) is that nearly every success story has a common denominator: the ability of the achiever to focus on the field of intended excellence.

Accomplishment and eventual fame are derived from the ability of the individual to concentrate efforts on building skill--blotting out distractions long enough to achieve comparative advantage in a chosen venture. "Focusing" may be the single most unsung quality in today's attention-deficit-distracted world, whether in schools, workplaces, boardrooms, or chambers of elected officials, where laws are passed and budgets are made.

Lack of focus puts firms out of business and causes employees to lose lobs. Painful as that may be, at least the rival firm and employees are there to service customers in the competitive private sector. But lack of focus inflicts more lasting and universal harm when emanating from government. Why? Because, if an automaker places higher value on achieving "diversity" or "global cooling" or "hybrid vehicles" than in making the "better-faster-cheaper" cars and trucks demanded by real people with real incomes, they will lose market share.

In government, inept and counterproductive policies might--after many lost lives and wasted resources--lead to replacement of policymakers at some future election. But the agencies, administration, or legislative bodies responsible for such calamities live on and on, in perpetuity.

California's government thought it knew energy markets better than those who generate, transmit, and deliver energy to customers. By mid-July, 2001, it was clear that Sacramento had used taxpayer funds to purchase power at more than $130 per megawatt-hour, but was obliged to sell at $15 per mwh. Had state policymakers focused on making California's business climate more hospitable to all entrepreneurs, from chip-makers to electricity producers, then markets would have favored Californians with more jobs, income, and investments and an uninterrupted flow of energy. …

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