Madison - St. Clair Record

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

State government should strive to make things easier for business to innovate

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By The Madison County Record | Aug 18, 2015

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If it's new, you can't do it. That's pretty much the default position of bureaucracy.

The average bureaucrat is insulated from innovation in the workplace. He'll hear about the latest things from friends and neighbors in the private sector, maybe even purchase some for use at home, but he won't enjoy technological advances where he works until the advances are close to becoming obsolete.

When everyone is moving on to better things, the average bureaucrat still is using carbon paper, three-­ring binders, mimeograph machines, and Rolodexes.

Bureaucracy lacks a profit motive. Efficiency is not rewarded, same with innovation.

Change is something to be dreaded and fought against, not cherished and embraced. Keeping a low profile is the key to continued public employment. There's nothing to be gained from rocking the boat and trying to change things.

The blindness and backwardness of bureaucracy would not be a major concern, were it not for the fact that some bureaucrats have the power to determine what technology the rest of us in the private sector are permitted to use. That can be a real nuisance, stifling our creativity and productivity and making us less competitive with our rivals in other states and countries.

It's not surprising that some bureaucrat in the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation issued a cease and desist order against Square Inc. two years ago. At that time Illinois citizens and businesses were using the San Francisco company's “smartphone dongle” to process mobile payments at point of sale.

But Square Inc. did not have bureaucratic approval for its innovation and thus was technically guilty of committing a Class 3 felony by processing payments without a license.

That happened in the Patrick Quinn-Michael Madigan era of Illinois government.

What is surprising is that current chief financial regulator Bryan Schneider-- appointed by Governor Bruce Rauner-- has now rescinded that order.

“Rapidly evolving payment technologies present great benefits for Illinois consumers,” Schneider said.

So true. Let’s encourage rather than discourage innovation.

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