How Government is Different Than Business

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The United States recently elected billionaire businessman Donald Trump as its 45th president. Trump has no prior experience in government, and campaigned in part on his business track record. Voters seemed to like that, apparently thinking that government needs to run more like a business.

While government can certainly learn from business, it’s important to note that government is not a business. President Obama contrasted the two well, as described in a recent Los Angeles Times article. The difference between the two relates to the difference between social goods and private goods.

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Fully Funding Your Nonprofit

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Nonprofits often receive funding for providing a specific service to a community, but not for the organizational infrastructure that supports the service. Running a food bank or crisis hotline is crucial work, but who is going to pay the rent, phone bill, and liability insurance for such organizations?

Donors have historically avoided funding “overhead.” Understandably, they want as much of their money going to serve the community. The problem comes in not acknowledging all the costs that contribute to providing service.

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Basic Income: Case Studies

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In a previous post I wrote about basic income, the idea that everyone in a society receives money for simple expenses such as food and housing, regardless of whether they work or not. Trends in demographics and technology are driving the idea of and need for  basic income.

To many in the United States, this notion probably seems at least farfetched, if not lunacy. Where is basic income starting to appear?

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On Fairness: Guaranteeing Basic Income For Everyone

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This blog is premised on our social nature and our innate sense of fairness. Those impulses lead to the design, distribution, pricing and promotion of social goods, or marketing the social good. Trends in demographics and technology are pointing to a major change in our society where there are more people than jobs. As social beings concerned with fairness, should we institute a universal basic income for everyone, regardless of whether they work?

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Three Ways to Design Better Retirement Accounts With Systems Thinking

Designing better retirement accounts

In a recent retirement study by Transamerica, respondents of all ages said that they would need to save at least $1 million to feel secure in retirement. If we all did that, we’d be a society of millionaires. There’s a big disconnect here, though, because the survey also shows people are nowhere near on track to save a million bucks with the IRA and 401k plans available today. Designing better retirement accounts is a strong first step towards financial security.

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Increasing the savings rate through promotion: Save To Win

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One in four Americans has no savings. At the same time, Americans collectively spend $56 billion a year on lotteries. Lottery players disproportionately are poor people. Maybe by channeling some of that lottery money and impulse to gamble, we could increase our savings rate in America, especially for low-income and low-wealth individuals.

What if every deposit you made into a savings account also gave you a chance to win money?

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Innovative government program design: the Dutch Postcode Lottery

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In Washington state, where I grew up and where my sister and brother-in-law are teachers, lottery winnings have been dedicated to education since 2000. In 2012, the state Supreme Court found the state in violation of its own constitutional mandate to fully fund public education. And in 2014, the same court found the state in contempt of court for not yet allocating funding. Clearly, lottery funding doesn’t make a difference in Washington state.

Is there a better way to design lotteries for the benefit of society? The Dutch Postcode lottery could provide lottery program directors with a blueprint.

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Got $4000? You’re rich, by global standards

Infographic: 0.7% Of The World's Population Control 41% Of Its Wealth | Statista

Ponder these economic inequality stats: “According to Crédit Suisse, people with a net worth of over $1 million represent just 0.7 percent of the planet’s population, but they control 41 percent of its wealth. 69 percent of the world’s population have a net worth of under $10,000 – they account for a mere 3 percent of global wealth. Meanwhile, 23 percent fall into the $10,000-$100,000 bracket and they control 14 percent of worldwide wealth.”

To be counted among the wealthiest half of the world’s citizens, you require a personal net worth of $3,650.

You can find this and other statistics at Statista, one of the sources on my list of free tools for marketers.

Distributing money to the poor

distributing money to the poor

In this blog, I’ve talked about the distribution of goods and services, one of the pillars of marketing. I’ve also talked about fairness and inequality, which are closely related to distribution. But when it comes to the public good, maybe that’s all more complicated than it’s need to be. Maybe we just need to be distributing money to the poor.

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