Today Is Day 1

I left the private sector 18 years ago and every day miss this feature: Failure matters. Just imagine the consequences for private enterprises from Amazon to Zoom had they not delivered during the pandemic. They’d be out of business. But not the State of California. It provided lousy services during — and before and after — the pandemic, yet not only can it not go out of business but it’s extracting record revenues from value generated by those great-performing private enterprises.

“Today Is Day 1” is a reference to the manner in which Amazon’s Jeff Bezos often ends annual letters to remind readers that every day Amazon must fight to satisfy the customer. Unlike Amazon, the State of California hasn’t cared about not satisfying customers. (Indeed, consumers of the state’s public school and unemployment insurance systems have been treated more like captives than customers.) That’s because elected officials have had more to lose from not satisfying special interests, and that’s because the general interest has not been prosecuted with vigilance. GFC’s launch a decade ago changed that but because our opponents have a multi-decade head start we have a long way to go.

Had something like GFC launched in (say) 1961 instead of 2011, California today wouldn’t be controlled by public employee unions and other special interests. If you want good state governance you have to put your shoulder to the political wheel and keep it there. If you haven’t already, start here. It doesn’t take a lot of money, just a lot of persistence. California should deliver excellent services at reasonable prices. Today is Day 1.