Innovate Government Away: Tech beats the bureaucracy

S Jobs cc

Although I am a PC guy, I have the greatest respect for Apple and Steve Jobs. Consider this. Apple became the largest company in the world (by valuation) without gaming the political system. I am sure there are exceptions in the company’s history somewhere, but generally this is true. Apple had almost no lobbyist representation until very recently when the Washington crowd decided they wanted a byte. (Get it?)

Apple became what it became because it had and has a culture of innovation flowing through it. From the earliest days the mantra was – ever faster, ever more user friendly, ever more stylish, ever more stable. Apple caught and then crushed its competition not by leveraging its power in the offices of lawmakers but by innovating the pants off of anyone who stepped into the ring with them.

This spirit of vitality and growth is the exact opposite of what one finds in government, which as time goes on only becomes more opaque, more expensive, slower, more intrusive, more soul destroying, and more inhumane.

Given that government is not going to just start reducing itself (at this point this is clear) I think it’s time that the tech world starts finding solutions to many of the things government does that have generally been only the territory of government. This should be an active goal. Over time, the languid, expensive, inefficient behemoth could be reduced in size significantly in our lifetime.

Bitcoin is an effort in this direction, and it is only the beginning.

And it doesn’t have to happen overnight. Perhaps it’s even best that it doesn’t happen overnight. But smart people should be thinking about what part of the government they want to reform with private innovative initiatives.

The state of course does not like competition. It will come down hard on the innovators to the degree that it can. But in the end, with concerted effort and by wisely picking our battles, we could reduce radically the size of government while providing higher quality services to the American citizenry.


President Obama’s approach to countering inequality is top-down and government-centered: raise taxes, increase the minimum wage, spend more on subsidies for education, food, and health care. But there’s an alternative, technology-led model that lets the UberX driver, the Airbnb host, or the Eat With cook use the skills and assets they have to connect with paying customers and earn a rating without a lot of government red tape. The opportunities are not small: Uber, which launched to the public in 2010, was valued last year at a reported $3.5 billion. Airbnb, founded in 2008, raised a round of capital in 2012 at a reported $2.5 billion valuation.

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