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Proft on “messaging to win”

Tuesday, Nov 26, 2013

* Dan Proft, yes Dan Proft

At the top of the list of fortune-cookie phrases that should be eliminated from the Republican Party’s messaging is, “Running government like a business.”

    1. Government is not a business and never will be. It is not possible to run government like a profit-maximizing business. (See James Buchanan’s work on public choice theory that earned him a Nobel in Economics for a detailed account)

    2. More importantly, people neither see themselves as numbers on a balance sheet nor do they want a government they perceive to be treating them as such. They see government as a non-profit provider of public goods not a business per se.

    3. Illinois at present is a good example of “running government like a business” in a sense. Business is good for the proprietors of big government—the Royals in Springfield. Politicians who are viewed as “running government like a business” (often like a family business in Illinois) are not generally seen in positive light, are they? That phrase is just as often used to describe politicians who enrich themselves at the public’s expense as it is to describe those proposing to operate government more efficiently. This should be instructive as to why the phrase has limited currency (in addition to its overuse).

    4. To the extent the trite phrase of “running government like a business” is a proxy for applying business principles in service to others, that description needs to be made explicit and the specific principles to be applied must be articulated along with an explanation of how the application will occur and what particular benefits non-politicians can expect from their precise application.

Candidates who trot out this surface-skimming cliché do more than fail to provide value. They stunt their ability and correspondingly their party’s ability to move into their camp those centrist voters who do not want their money squandered but who do want the government to effectively deliver public goods.

It is necessary to have a debate about just what is included in the phrase “public goods” as well as how those agreed-upon public goods should be provided. But where there is agreement on the provision of a public good—e.g. police protection, state services for individuals with developmental disabilities who need state services through no fault of their own, etc.—the extent to which the GOP offers messages that are human-being centered rather than green-eyeshades intensive is the extent to which the GOP can build a lasting center-right governing coalition.

In Illinois, if the GOP wants out of the super-minority, put the phrase “running government like a business” out of business and focus on delineating how free-market policy prescriptions best advance our shared values of caring about our fellow man and caring for our fellow man.

I thought he was with Rauner. Guess not.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

36 Comments
  1. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Nov 26, 13 @ 1:56 pm:

    I would Post something, but I am too busy trying to recover from what I just read, and the author… and that these two are together.

    Is there another “Dan Proft” I am not aware of?


  2. - Norseman - Tuesday, Nov 26, 13 @ 1:57 pm:

    Did I sleep through the holidays and today happens to be April 1st? A Halloween trick isn’t applicable either, is it?

    Can’t be Proft. It’s a reasonable piece.


  3. - Reality Check - Tuesday, Nov 26, 13 @ 1:58 pm:

    In other words, people ain’t buying what the Illinois Policy Institute’s selling. Guess Dan’s trying to find some new lipstick for the same old pig.


  4. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Nov 26, 13 @ 1:59 pm:

    Too funny.

    What has Proft ever won but lavish, do-nothing, no-bid contracts from mobbed-up Cicero politicians?


  5. - too obvious - Tuesday, Nov 26, 13 @ 2:01 pm:

    I’m amazed that anyone would listen to a huckster like Dan Proft, a guy who got Larry Dominick elected in Cicero and then got rich via no-bid contracts.

    And Proft has to be with Rauner. That’s who his latest cash cow Richard Uihlein is with.


  6. - Bill White - Tuesday, Nov 26, 13 @ 2:02 pm:

    Perhaps Mr. Proft has been reading Pope Francis:


  7. - Ghost - Tuesday, Nov 26, 13 @ 2:03 pm:

    Well written article either way.

    He does make one mistake, government has income generating facets and agencies. Part of our problem has been that we cut funding and headcount to agencies that bring in more then they cost. We also cut funding for fraud detection and things like workers comp investigators, then complain about the fraud that exists becuase we dont want to pay anyone to watch for and stop it.

    if you want a phrase to describe government economics, its penny wise pound foolish.


  8. - Powell - Tuesday, Nov 26, 13 @ 2:04 pm:

    Of course he doesn’t want government to run like a business. If it did, he would have never gotten his contracts from Cicero.


  9. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Nov 26, 13 @ 2:04 pm:

    I can’t believe I agreed with both Jim Oberweis and Dan Proft on something this week.


  10. - walkinfool - Tuesday, Nov 26, 13 @ 2:16 pm:

    He’s right of course.

    And he cites a legitimate economist to boot.

    The problem is that Rutherford, Rauner, and Brady all tout their own business skills, as the key to turning around Illinois government.


  11. - Siriusly - Tuesday, Nov 26, 13 @ 2:19 pm:

    I can’t believe I agreed with both Wordslinger and Dan Proft on something this week.


  12. - Chicago Cynic - Tuesday, Nov 26, 13 @ 2:19 pm:

    I never thought I’d say this, especially after arguing with him repeatedly face to face, but, Lord help me, I agree with Dan Proft.


  13. - Eugene - Tuesday, Nov 26, 13 @ 2:46 pm:

    And while we’re at it, can we also retire the even more inane “The government doesn’t create jobs”? Of course the government creates jobs, whether they are in schools, prisons, hospitals, or day care centers. They are private sector and public sector - but either way they would not exist without government. These jobs are as real as any other. What’s more, they facilitate wealth creation through a safer, more educated, and healthier society.


  14. - Jaded - Tuesday, Nov 26, 13 @ 2:53 pm:

    I can’t believe I agreed with Dan Proft and everyone who commented on this post. Must be the holidays.


  15. - anonxx - Tuesday, Nov 26, 13 @ 3:01 pm:

    You need to understand Buchanan’s public choice theory as a baseline to recognize that Proft has not really turned a new leaf. He is right about the framing of the question, but the solution, which is not stated, is still cut, cut, cut, and privatize.


  16. - where's the credibility? - Tuesday, Nov 26, 13 @ 3:07 pm:

    Speaking of winning, how did Dan do the last time he ran? Didn’t he get about half the # of votes as a disgraced phone book magnate who makes the press wear wingtips to his press conference?


  17. - RMW Stanford - Tuesday, Nov 26, 13 @ 3:08 pm:

    Good for Profit and good for citing public choice theory.


  18. - Commonsense in Illinois - Tuesday, Nov 26, 13 @ 3:15 pm:

    With age comes wisdom…even for Dan.


  19. - Whatever - Tuesday, Nov 26, 13 @ 3:17 pm:

    I guess that Rauner contract fell through. No pay, no play for Proft.


  20. - Brian Piccolo - Tuesday, Nov 26, 13 @ 4:02 pm:

    So is this the wisdom that helped Proft almost eclipse 4 percent in last years gubernatorial primary?


  21. - Levois - Tuesday, Nov 26, 13 @ 4:06 pm:

    “The problem is that Rutherford, Rauner, and Brady all tout their own business skills, as the key to turning around Illinois government.”

    Excuse me for saying, while I don’t believe it’s so easy to run government like a business it’s also necessary to have people with business skills in government. Some of the skills that make business-people successful are also necessary in the functioning of government.


  22. - Just Sayin' - Tuesday, Nov 26, 13 @ 4:41 pm:

    Tillman/Proft are with Rauner because Uihlein is with Rauner and Rauner is funding them. Walsh is with Rauner because Gidwitz and Uihlein are with Rauner and Gidwitz funded Walsh’s campaign. Proft is on WLS because Uihlein paid for him to be there just like he paid for Walsh to be on WIND. The question is why is this thread relevant at all? Who cares about Proft’s email? No one is listening to WLS - so evidently Uihlein’s money can’t buy everything.


  23. - Henry Clay - Tuesday, Nov 26, 13 @ 4:50 pm:

    If Dan Proft said the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, there would still be those who were waiting to dash his ship on the rocks with comments to the tune of “I will have to agree with him. Finally Proft got something right.”
    Proft made a simple comment that qualifies as “the obvious” but yet it’s simplicity needed to be said. I doubt that Rauner qualifies as Proft’s ideal candidate but Dan is like so many Republicans in Illinois. He has been frustrated by GOP candidates that are thrown in the ring who are only journeymen. Rauner’s large wallet and his not being politically indebted to anyone makes him “the one-eyed in the kingdom of the blind”. At this point in time, a one-eyed warrior looks pretty good to Republicans in comparison to our previous well-intentioned GOP candidates who were left laying flat on the canvas within minutes after stepping into the ring.


  24. - Dan profit - Tuesday, Nov 26, 13 @ 5:32 pm:

    Who cares what this guy says or how the Houston Astros play? LPL


  25. - reformer - Tuesday, Nov 26, 13 @ 6:11 pm:

    It’s good to see Dan can think and learn, not just give knee-jerk reactions.


  26. - cod - Tuesday, Nov 26, 13 @ 6:38 pm:

    Good advice to Republicans, despite the source. When I hear anyone say a government should be run like a business, I know they are either a big lying phony or, rarely, just stupid.


  27. - railrat - Tuesday, Nov 26, 13 @ 6:49 pm:

    @ just sayin’ 4:41…quick its 28 degrees run outside wherever you are and take a deeeeeep breath !!! this post allows opinions sometimes even those you may not acknowledge may be spot on!!!


  28. - Alonso - Tuesday, Nov 26, 13 @ 6:53 pm:

    Coming from Proft, this just seems ridiculous.

    As others have noted, he’s made a solid living off government.

    Now he’s against profiting from government?

    Come on.

    Did he go on to add “Do as I say, and not as I do”?


  29. - fake county chairman - Tuesday, Nov 26, 13 @ 7:13 pm:

    We had a business person once to run our state agency. He didnt last the term of his apt.


  30. - Illinois born and bred - Tuesday, Nov 26, 13 @ 8:29 pm:

    One thing I will say, like or dislike Proft agree or disagree with him, the current red headed BOZO running the state (and the democrats) has certainly made gov his business, and its worked out real well for all of us. But hey why listen to a intelligent piece of advised, its easier to just keep reelecting Bozo and the other clowns


  31. - Wallendar - Tuesday, Nov 26, 13 @ 8:35 pm:

    Can’t abide this snide weasel. If he or anyone he supports ever gets elected I’m moving to Wisconsin.


  32. - Elder - Tuesday, Nov 26, 13 @ 8:53 pm:

    Proft always surprises - sometimes for the worse, and sometimes for the better. He is passionate, smart, and tries to live out his values. I am on the other side of most issues, but I cannot help admiring him.


  33. - Bill White - Tuesday, Nov 26, 13 @ 9:41 pm:

    I wonder whether there is concern about proposed new regulations concerning the taxation of allegedly non-profit “social welfare” associations.


  34. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Nov 27, 13 @ 1:05 am:

    –It’s good to see Dan can think and learn, not just give knee-jerk reactions.–

    C’mon, man, he didn’t get a payday from the big-money Rauner pot.

    So now he’s trolling for whatever score he can get from the rest of the candidates. Which ain’t looking like much, to date.

    What dont’ you know about Dan Proft?

    No-bid, do-nothing government contracts dished out by The Outfit (Mafia, to you young ballplayers out there).

    Urqhuart Consulting? Like from the original Brit “House of Cards?” Francis Urqhuart? Immoral, murderous right-wing PM? Francis Urqhuart? FU?

    Proft’s a nasty little boy who makes his money fronting for gangsters, trying to perfume their perversion of the Illinois GOP in the western suburbs.

    That’s it. You want him, he’s all yours.


  35. - walkinfool - Wednesday, Nov 27, 13 @ 9:15 am:

    Spent much of yesterday reviewing summaries of Buchanan and “public choice theory”. It is clear Proft doesn’t understand this set of economic theory, beyond its misuse to support libertarian views.

    It’s actual implication is that individual incentives and goals operating within government are more like those driving business, than we like to think. Thus leadership and management in government would be more like leadership in business than we assume.

    I should have known.

    Another right-wing misreading of economic theory.

    (Adam Smith specifically recommended government and regulatory protection of markets in the real world, so that they could approach his ideal “free market” with all of its benefits.)


  36. - CircularFiringSquad - Wednesday, Nov 27, 13 @ 10:22 am:

    apparently an earlier comment was censored so let’s just remind readers this tome of nonsense was posted by the IL Opportunity Project a dark money group that paid IPI’s John Tillman $476.92 an hour in 2011 according to the 990 to do who knows what
    Perfect guides for the future
    Fire, Aim. Ready!


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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