Monday, March 12, 2018

Why Not Private Provision of Many Government Services?

Richard Ebeling emails:

Dear Bob,

My latest article on the website of the Future of Freedom Foundation is on, “Why Not Private Provision of Many Government Services?”

In the on-going debates in modern society over the necessary or desired functions of government there are a number of tasks that many across the political spectrum presume and take for granted that only government can provide when, in fact, they could easily and more effectively be supplied by the private sector.

Ambiguities over the role of government arise due to the notion of “public goods,” that is, goods or services from which it is difficult to exclude a user and beneficiary even though he may not have paid a price or contributed a fee to help defray the cost of supplying it. National defense is often considered the classic example. Hence, the need for government provision through mandatory tax dollars.

This logic is, then, extended to a variety of areas that, whatever the validity of the national defense case may or may not be, represent misplaced applications. These include road, bridges, street lighting, common parks and community areas, and urban and city planning, in general.

It can be shown that many of these infrastructure and neighborhood facilities either can be made subject to payment of a price or fee for access and use with much better effect and efficiency than when left to government hands, or offer numerous instances, already seen in various activities of life, in which suppliers find it profitably advantageous to offer them “free of charge.”

This no less applies to the development and evolution of cities and towns in general that would better reflect the values, needs and likes of the people living and working in communities, if left free from the social engineering hands of urban and rural government planners and regulators.



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