Brent Batten: Candidates let you have it your way


Are you noticing a trend?

Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain is a former executive with Burger King and Godfather’s Pizza.

Fellow candidate Mitt Romney’s firm once acquired Domino’s Pizza.

Sarah Palin’s husband is a commercial fisherman.

Michele Bachmann’s family is in the dairy business.

Rick Perry’s people are ranchers.

Now, Craig Miller, the former CEO of Ruth’s Chris Steak House has decided to run for the Florida Senate seat now held by Bill Nelson.

Are we electing a commander in chief, or a commander in chef?

In America, food has replaced music, math and Esperanto as the universal language.

President Obama may have divided the nation with his profligate spending, his controversial health care plan, his stance on Israel and his insistence on new taxes as part of the debt ceiling deal, but we’re all Obama-ites when it comes to a Five Guys burger and fries.

First Lady Michelle Obama is easily forgiven when her crusade to get Americans to eat healthier gives way to a 1,500 calorie lunch at the Shake Shack.

It is often said government needs to run more like a business.

Given the direction of politics, let’s be more specific: Government needs to run more like a restaurant.

Think about it.

The government publishes a list of the things it offers _ a menu, if you will. Services for children are listed on a separate kids menu, complete with word games and a maze.

Of course, some things on the menu are more controversial than others. They are identified as “hot” items by a little red pepper in the margin.

The government can’t do everything every day. Daily specials a’la the restaurant business are in order. “Today’s special: Killing bin Laden; Soup of the day: Navy Seal bean.”

Nor can the government attend to everyone all at once. Early bird specials are a tool for bringing in customers in during traditionally slower periods. The technique should prove especially helpful over at the Social Security Administration.

People like to feel like they’re getting a deal. Restaurants offer coupons to foster that feeling.

Government ought to do the same.

“Buy one 10-year T-note at the regular price, get the second of equal or lesser value for half price. (Expires 8/3/2011).”

Or, “20 percent off your next IRS audit with this coupon. (Not good with other offers).”

Restaurants are careful to rotate stock using a first-in, first-out system to keep food from getting stale. Think that might work with Congress?

Similarly, restaurants keep note of hold time, the time a product can be kept before it has to be thrown out. Tobacco subsidies come immediately to mind.

A mystery shopper is someone who visits a restaurant and reports their experience back to management. Hmmmm. Any volunteers?

Restaurants use a waste factor to calculate their prices to customers. One suspects that the concept of a waste factor is an unfamiliar one within government.

Finally, when it comes time to pay the bill, restaurants rely on tipping as a way to compensate their employees. Taxpayers happy with their service can add 20 percent to their bill. Those who don’t risk being scolded in Letters to the Editor.

Or even worse, being forced to use one of those 20 percent off coupons.

Connect with Brent Batten at

© 2011 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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