What government can do

Empowering the private sector

When I was a Humphrey Public Policy Fellow, I worked with a group of fellow Fellows to develop a game, or at least a decision-making strategy, for when government should undertake programs and when the private sector would be more effective.  We called it GIGO for “Get in, get out” (of government).   Since then, I’ve considered the question “is this something government should do?” quite frequently, especially now that Northfield is trying to (1) cut its expenses in advance of the loss of LGA, (2) maintain important services and programs, and (3) untangle our economic development strategy.

The narrow “create jobs and increase tax base” model of economic development thinking is one of those areas where I have some serious reservations about what government can do except make the environment as fertile as possible for the private sector to do the creating and increasing without direct government subsidy.   Here’s what ‘job creators’ really need from government according to Scott Burns, founder and CEO of GovDelivery writing at MinnPost.