From monarchy to board of directors

The mindset underpinning this position is based on the idea that the state is a service provider and the citizen a customer.

The idea that the state should be a service provider is not entirely new.  After all, the royal motto is "Ich Dien": I serve.

The first thing to strike you when you think about it that way, is that customers don't vote to decide what's on the menu in a restaurant, they just get to choose restaurants.  Despite not voting, they do, as individuals, get to eat the food they like.  Voting for a state's services, on the other hand, does not guarantee at all that individuals will get the services they want.  In fact, people are far more likely to be satisfied as consumers deciding where they're going to spend their money, than they are as citizens, one voting voice among millions, a system in which they depend on many other people's votes before they get to experience the kind of service they would like.

Republics don't do particularly well in this context: at any given moment, you can have up to 49% dissatisfied customers before things change.  That's an appalling figure.  If Apple had 49% dissatisfied customers, they'd go bankrupt.

Now, it used to be that most businesses were family businesses.  Still today, you can see someone's family name being used for some of Britain's biggest brands: Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury, Tate & Lyle, Burberry, Asprey are all named after their founders.

However, typically, when a company becomes a large corporation, the person or family that founded it take a back seat, sell the business (or part of it), allowing it to be run by a CEO and a board of competent directors.  Of course, sometimes you get incompetent directors too, but corporations have a system in place to avoid that kind of thing: bad directors typically get replaced by more competent ones.

My argument is that monarchies should be seen as a family business.  And just as family businesses that grow up are run by directors instead of family members, so a state should be run by directors instead of a royal family.

The big "hitch" in this picture is the fact that the state, as a service provider, has a monopoly on a geographical territory, and monopolies are very bad at delivering what customers want. 

However, the United Kingdom is uniquely placed to have a solution to this problem, since it is already made up of different entities: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.  These entities could be set up as competing service providers, much in the way that Switzerland is a confederation of various cantons competing against each other for citizens' taxes: some have higher taxes, and offer more services, others have lower taxes, and offer less services.  Switzerland, in fact, doesn't even have a single head of state: their head of state is a group of people, and the president of the conferation is really just primus inter pares. 

We could take the idea further, and decentralise the corporations even more: each county could be run like a service provider, rather than the 4 entities, and have its own tax raising powers.  The counties could pay a certain percent of their income to a group of extra-county service providers like the army, navy and airforce.

Many Britons, especially the ones commuting to London, have a choice about where to live.  This is essentially a market phenomenon, and can be leveraged to create an environment in which it acts as a signal to service providers that they must compete if they want to increase their tax revenue.  Only under these circumstances will they treat citizens with the customer service they deserve.  Some will leverage technology to become better performers, performing the services at a fraction of the cost thanks to ephemeralisation of technology.  Others may focus on proper one-to-one customer service, hiring people with a true "can do" attitude and a real desire to serve.

A positive side effect of this system is that it creates an environment in which we would have smaller state-like entities, and small states typically perform better than large ones at delivering services to the citizen.

edited on Mar 22, 2015 by Ruobing Wang
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