If Startups Ran The Government

Posted on by Brian Hertzog

Here's a link to the Affordable Care Act.  2,409 pages--all of it completely necessary of course. 

On Tuesday, October 1, the government officially argued itself into shutdown.  There are times when I feel extremely proud to be American, cue Beyonce.  This isn't one of those times.  According to astrophysicist Niel Degrasse Tyson, 57% of senate site their profession as law.  If you're trying to win cases, this is great, but if you're trying to get shit done--don't look to congress for a speedy solution.

With 10% of government, (cough cough Tea Party) holding the other 90% hostage, what can you do?  Unfortunately, I don't have an answer, and even if I did, it looks like it would take years before anything would be made official, almost as long as, oh I don't know, say a term in office.  But in all seriousness, how do you end up with 2409 pages?  Does anyone have sympathy for the lawyers who have to read this document?

Here's how a startup would run things.  Startups operate on a "lean mentality".  They have small budgets, and if they run themselves into debt, guess what?  Game over.  So to function you have to be agile and crafty--especially when shipping products.  I asked one of my good friends, Amron, who is a brilliant programmer if he would comment on how developers ship their code.   This is what he said:

Almost all software is developed with the use of Version Control Systems (VCS).  Modern version control tools allow all changes to be tracked by both time and author, and provide support for viewing changes across versions.  Applying version control systems to legislation would be a huge leap in accountability as it lets you see which congressmen are adding, removing, or modifying parts of bills. It allows blame to be placed and avoids any finger pointing or plausible deniability. It also lets you see who is responsible for the bloat, and exactly how you can end up with a 2500 page bill.

Can you imagine if each representative could be easily held responsible for the changes he or she commits to a bill?  The latest shutdown doesn't mean our government's broken, but it's a warning sign that that we need to improve our collaboration.  At what point do we suck up our pride and do the right thing?

All things aside, I feel so lucky to live in a country where I'm able to write a post like this.  I can freely express my opinion without worrying if I'll suddenly be detained for some unknown length of time.  The U.S. prides itself on being a "land of opportunity".  There's more potential here than any other place I know and I wouldn't trade it for anything.  So, in the interest of keeping this post brief--my rant ends here.  Bitching won't fix things, but taking cues from some of the brightest and innovative minds this country has to offer might not be a bad place to start.  God bless the U.S.A.