Walmart Vs. The DMV

by John Hawkins | June 30, 2003 3:01 pm

Walmart Vs. The DMV: As I stood in line at the DMV today, it occurred to me that you can explain a number of big government vs. private industry issues by simply asking people to compare Walmart to the DMV.

When I go into my local Walmart, I have a greeter who usually says “hi” or at least makes eye contact. The store does an excellent job of providing products that I want and I have no doubt that if a new product becomes available that they can make money on, Walmart will stock it. While the staff isn’t perfect, they’re generally helpful and it’s rare that I have to wait longer than 10 minutes to check out. Because there are stockholders to please, bonuses at the management level, promotions for employees who do an excellent job, and a real fear that consumers will leave Walmart and go to their competitors, Walmart, employees feel pressured to meet my needs as consumer and they do a reasonably good job of it.

Then there’s the DMV. Usually I have to wait 30 minutes to an hour plus to talk to a DMV employee who typically comes across as rude &/or disinterested. Because the DMV is a monopoly with no competition, they feel no need to adequately staff their facilities or give good customer service. After all, where else are you going to go? While a company like Walmart can go out of business if they do a poor job, the DMV has no such fear. Moreover, while Walmart’s CEO may be fired if the company performs poorly, there is no similar worry on the DMV side. Just ask yourself, are the people of NC are going to turn out their governor or Senator because they had to wait too long at the DMV? Of course not, it just doesn’t work like that.

The difference between Walmart and the DMV comes down to competition and whose money is on the line. When you have money invested in a company, you DEMAND good performance or you’ll simply move your money somewhere else. On the other hand, government bureaucracies simply don’t care as much since their own money isn’t involved.

So think about Walmart vs. the DMV the next time someone wants to socialize our health care. Do you want to put your life into the hands of people with the DMV mentality or capitalists who believe they’re going to make money by meeting your needs? When it comes to schools, do you want the current mediocre monopoly that we have or do want school vouchers that will force public schools to go head to head with private institutions that make money only if they can outperform their competitors? If you want the best service, done at the best price, in the most timely fashion, you want private industry, not government, doing the work.

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