News & Opinion

Running Toronto like a business or why the Model T seems more contemporary than Rob Ford

In The Maven on December 26, 2010 at 8:32 PM

Photo by Sam Javanrouh

By The Maven | So our new mayor wants to run Toronto more like a business. That’s why citizens have now become customers.  And our civil servants are now customer service representatives.  Well, we shouldn’t be surprised.  This the current mantra of all conservative politicians (and a good many liberals as well).  We all want efficiency and an end to waste.  We all want to pay less in taxes — all the while maintaining a high level of services, of course.

So we figure the efficiency of the market place is the way to go.  After all, if business doesn’t cut costs they won’t turn a profit and so will go under.  So, obviously, that is the model that is most efficient.

Except, no.  Not always.  Maybe even not most of the time.

Just which business would Ford like to emulate?  Perhaps he has Nortel in mind.  That great innovative telecommunications giant that was the darling of the business community.  Oh no, wait, they went bankrupt. Perhaps he has Bell Canada in mind.  You know, the people who brought us efficient telephone lines and great internet service.  What, not happy with the service you get from Bell?  How about Rogers?

I know: the Canadian banks have done very well in these uncertain times.  We would all like our government run like a bank.  Except, maybe not all the service charges and miscellaneous fees for everything.

Just which business do you have in mind Rob Ford?

Toronto is huge.  It will only become more efficient if its provision of services is broken down in to smaller units and the bureaucrats give up on their one size fits all mentality.  Numerous studies have shown economies of scale break down when a business, government, or any organization gets so large that it sags under the weight of its own size. That is why amalgamation didn’t save money.  That is why when Parks and Recreation attempts to take over local community organizations (eg: community run hockey arenas) they become less functional and cost more.

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Visit Sam Javanrouh’s photostream on Flickr.

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