Rep. Jason Murphey
Special to The Sun
For several months, one of Guthrie’s foremost fast-food restaurants experienced a tremendous drop-off in the quality of service. Long lines of customers found themselves patiently waiting for a product that took far too long to deliver. Word quickly spread around town about the poor service.
Fortunately, the restaurant addressed the issue with a purported management change and restored higher quality service.
This is a perfect example of the free market’s effectiveness.
Instead of changing management, what would have happened if they blamed customers for the restaurant’s falling standards? What if they told you, “You’re not paying enough money,” and instead of changing management, they simply raised prices? Like me, you probably suspect that the number of customers would have greatly decreased.
For anyone who participates in the free market, this is just common sense.
I find it fascinating that this definition of common sense is completely reversed within government circles.
At all levels of government, entrenched bureaucrats and politicians become skilled at telling taxpayers, “We are doing a bad job, but it is your fault because you do not pay enough taxes.” Of course, they don’t say it exactly like this but their excuses and desire for more money could be summarized with the simple sentence.
Perhaps no issue better demonstrates this point than a bill that passed by a very narrow margin and will go into law later this year. It will increase your driver’s license renewal fee by 50 percent. It will result in a massive, nearly $10 million fee increase.
Those who wanted the increase used as justification the horrendous wait times at the state drivers examination stations. However, the $10 million raised by the fee increase was significantly more than the amount requested by the Department of Public Safety to solve the drivers’ license examination station problem. It’s almost as though the advocates of the fee increase searched for the worst performing service and used it to defend a big cash grab for a series of other purposes.
I absolutely agree that the performance issue at drivers examination stations must be addressed, and our Government Modernization Committee approved a method for using technology to cut the wait times without a corresponding fee increase. In the business world, businesses must use new technologies to keep prices low while providing a great product to the consumer. It should be no different in the world of government.
I was disappointed to see policy makers endorse a massive fee increase instead of focusing on our business-like solution to the problem. In doing so, they signaled to government bureaucracies that the days of leveraging poor performance for big fee and tax increases are not over. This actually entices government leaders to allow performance to suffer, knowing they can use poor performance as an excuse to grab more money.
In my view, when a government agency admits to not doing a good job, it is probably the time to change management instead of raising fees. After all, that is what happens in the free market.
Fortunately, government isn’t in the fast-food business. Guthrie residents may once again enjoy quality service at the fast-food restaurant without a price increase … although they will have to pay 50 percent more for their driver’s license in order to get there.
REP. JASON MURPHEY, R-Guthrie, represents House District 31, which encompasses all of Logan County and a portion of northern Edmond. He may be reached via email at email@example.com.