STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
Are You a Satisfied “Customer” of the Federal Government?
By Joe Jarvis - May 10, 2018

“[A]ccording to the 2016 American Customer Satisfaction Index, the Federal Government ranks among the bottom of all industries in the United States in customer satisfaction;”

Calling citizens customers is like calling slaves employees. “Customer” implies that you could take your business elsewhere.

And the ability to go somewhere else when you are dissatisfied with a service is the only way to ensure a good customer experience.

The Federal Agency Customer Experience Act is a bill in Congress that would instruct federal agencies to give their “customers” the opportunity to provide feedback.

This is one of those rare times when the government–or at least a couple members of Congress–admit how terrible the system is.

“[M]any agencies, offices, programs, and Federal employees provide excellent service to individuals, however many parts of the Federal Government still fall short on delivering the customer service experience that individuals have come to expect from the private sector;”

Someone deserves a prize for this piece of research! People get better service when they aren’t forced to use the service?! What could possibly be the reason?

It might have something to do with being a captive “customer” of the federal government. What are you going to do? It’s not like you can take your business elsewhere.

I’ll give them an A for effort. But the fact is the government doesn’t have to put any effort in, and they still get paid. That is why government services will never match the quality of the private sector, no matter how many new laws they pass.

It is actually somewhat surprising that the bill doesn’t call for the collection of customer feedback by force. But since that is how the government typically operates, the authors of the bill had to add a special line to make sure agencies don’t force their “customers” to submit feedback:

“Each agency that solicits voluntary feedback shall ensure that—

(1) responses to the solicitation of voluntary feedback remain anonymous and shall not be traced to specific individuals or entities;

(2) individuals who decline to participate in the solicitation of voluntary feedback shall not be treated differently by the agency for purposes of providing services or information…

(4) the voluntary nature of the solicitation is clear…”

At first, I thought it would be fun to leave some feedback for the IRS. But then I realized this would only add to the frustration of being robbed. It is like a slap in the face.

Can you imagine being mugged, only to have the culprit turn to you before he runs off with your wallet and say, “Are you satisfied with today’s mugging? What could I do next time to improve your theft experience?”

I don’t suppose not robbing me is an option?

I just imagine all the IRS agents laughing their asses off reading the customer feedback.

Maybe it’s better that the bill probably won’t pass anyway…

Customers Get a Choice

We could get into a whole debate about the proper scope of government–if any. But shouldn’t it tell us something that it is universally accepted that you get better service from the private sector?

Of course, there are some complicated products and services people just can’t seem to imagine coming from the private sector.

The possibility of private agencies creating and enforcing law terrifies people. It really shouldn’t. Common law was born out of the “private sector.” It developed naturally to solve disputes in order to prevent violence. That meant that there had to be a dispute, a wrong committed–no victimless crimes.

Now the government is the cause of much violence, not the solution. Can you imagine being able to choose whether or not to fund the drug war? I think I’d rather spend that money on security cameras, or an alarm.

Roads are another product people have a hard time imagining coming from the private sector. The highway system was a big project. In fact, it required the appropriation of countless acres of private land by the government. People were forced out of their homes and off their land for what the government determined to be “just” compensation.

Who started those conflicts? Was a national highway system worth it for the injustices it caused? Do the ends justify the means?

These are difficult questions because we have a highway system, and can see it in action. We don’t know what we would have if billions–trillions–of dollars hadn’t been spent on highways. Would we already have the Hyperloop for long distance travel? Perhaps personal air travel would have boomed.

What about the high number of fatalities on American roadways? Maybe consumers would have put their money towards a safer system. It is highly likely the system would be more efficient, as customers watch their wallets more than the government does.

Taking Your Business Elsewhere

The best solution at this point seems to be competition.

There are actually many more countries on earth today than there were 100 years ago. In the leadups to WWI and WWII, only about 50 nations existed on Earth. And it wasn’t so easy to move from one country to another.

Today there are about 195 countries on Earth.

Estonia is one example of a country experimenting with a government that actually could allow citizens to take their business elsewhere. They are mulling ideas like digital citizenship and purchasing government services without having to necessarily be in a geographical jurisdiction.

Right now you have to physically move to another country if you want to take your business elsewhere. But what if people could live amongst each other, and voluntarily purchase services from different governments?

The first step to getting there is rewarding the best jurisdictions with our physical presence. Moving to better cities, states, and countries helps fuel the competition for citizens. People are fleeing Venezuela. Despite the natural disaster, people are moving to Puerto Rico because of the tax incentives. People are fleeing states like California, and moving to States like New Hampshire and Florida.

There are other promising solutions for creating new jurisdictions. Seasteading is actually starting to become a reality, and it solves ecological, political, and social problems.

But it even helps to just stay put and adopt technology that makes government services obsolete.

We are still in the early days of cryptocurrencies, and truly anonymous tokens will make it ever harder for the government force you to be their “customer.”

The world is improving, and options are increasing. It is a joke right now that the government thinks of their captive taxpayers as customers. But soon, governments may have to truly attract their citizens… or simply go out of business.


 

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