Mark Cuban is a billionaire tech entrepreneur, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks NBA team, host of Shark Tank, and is rumored to be a possible Vice Presidential pick for Donald Trump.
“Incentives matter” is his maxim for life.
He says incentives determine and explain our behavior.
That’s as true for tech companies as it is for government.
After all, there’s nothing special about government. They’re people with jobs.
You probably have a job. You probably want to keep that job.
You have an incentive to do the right work to keep it.
So do government employees.
But they have a different set of incentives.
Imagine there’s no crime.
Say the police do a five year blitzkrieg and lock away all the criminals.
You wouldn’t need police offers anymore, would you?
What if there was no poverty? No need for social benefits workers.
Many people in these fields are sincere, selfless and hard-working.
But at the systematic level, there’s ZERO incentive to STOP those problems.
In fact, their incentives are the opposite.
More poverty? You need more poverty-prevention programs (and workers).
More crime? More cops.
Asking these people to eliminate these problems is asking them to put themselves out of a job.
Government serves three basic purposes:
1.) Punish and prevent crime
2.) Enforce contracts
3.) Emergency services
It’s a good tool for all three. The best we have so far.
But you don’t hammer with a screwdriver.
And government isn’t the right tool for every job.