Private Enterprise Does It Better

Why freedom and responsibility triumph over regulation and central planning

In Myths, Lies and Downright Stupidity, I bet my readers $1,000 that they couldn't name one thing that government does better than the private sector.

I am yet to pay.

Free enterprise does everything better.

Why? Because if private companies don't do things efficiently, they lose money and die. Unlike government, they cannot compel payment through the power to tax.

Even when a private company operates a public facility under contract to government, it must perform. If it doesn't, it will be "fired"—its contract won't be renewed. Government is never fired.

Contracting out to private enterprise isn't the same thing as letting fully competitive free markets operate, but it still works better than government.

Roads are one example. Politicians call road management a "public good" that "government must control." Nonsense.

In 1995, a private road company added two lanes in the middle of California Highway 91, right where the median strip used to be. It then used "congestion pricing" to let some drivers pay to speed past rush-hour traffic. Using the principles of supply and demand, road operators charge higher tolls at times of day when demand is high. That encourages those who are most in a hurry to pay for what they need. It was the first time anywhere in the world that congestion pricing was used. Bureaucrats were skeptical. Now congestion pricing is a hot idea for both private and public road management systems.

Likewise, for years there was a gap in the ring road surrounding Paris that created huge traffic problems. Then private developers made an unsolicited proposal to build a $2 billion toll tunnel in exchange for a 70-year lease to run it. They built a double-decker tunnel that fits six lanes of traffic in the space usually required for just two. The tunnel's profit-seeking owners have an incentive to keep traffic moving. They collect tolls based on congestion pricing, and tolls are collected electronically, so cars don't have to stop. The tunnel operators clear accidents quickly. Most are detected within 10 seconds -- thanks to 350 cameras inside the tunnel. The private road has cut a 45-minute trip to 10 minutes.

Indiana used to lose money on its toll road. Then Gov. Mitch Daniels leased it to private developers. Now it makes a profit. The new owners spent $40 million on electronic tolling. That's saved them 55 percent on toll collection. They saved $20 per mile by switching to a better de-icing fluid. They bought a new fleet of computerized snowplows that clear roads using less salt. Drivers win, and taxpayers win.

It also turns out that government roads often run more smoothly when drivers have more, not less, freedom.

This sounds paradoxical. Politicians often sneer at libertarians, saying, "You want to get rid of traffic lights?!" Well, yes, actually. In some cases, traffic moves better and more safely when government removes traffic lights, stop signs, even curbs.

It's Friedrich Hayek's "spontaneous" order in action: Instead of sitting at a mechanized light waiting to be told when to go, drivers meet in an intersection and negotiate their way through by making eye contact and gesturing. The secret is that drivers must pay attention to their surroundings—to pedestrians and other cars—rather than just to signs and signals. It demonstrates the "Peltzman Effect" (named after retired University of Chicago economist Sam Peltzman): People tend to behave more recklessly when their sense of safety is increased. By removing signs, lights and barriers, drivers feel less safe, so they drive more carefully. They pay more attention.

In Drachten, Holland, lights and signs were removed from an intersection handling about 30,000 cars a day. Average waiting times dropped from 50 seconds to less than 30 seconds. Accidents dropped from an average of eight per year to just one.

On Kensington High Street in London, after pedestrian railing and other traffic markers were removed, accidents dropped by 44 percent.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • BeltwayLurker||

    They don't die if they are too big to fail. What? Another government operation? Never mind.

  • Subsidize Me!||

    They collect tolls based on congestion pricing, and tolls are collected electronically...

    Cue the progressives "agreeing" with this philosophy, mistaking a proposal to increase liberty for taxpayers (making the motorist bear the cost) for one that fits their desire to make society "better" by penalizing "bad" behavior. After all - is there a better way to fund bullshit rail systems than taxing motorists?

  • BeltwayLurker||

    A private toll road near DC was facing government price controls. Government excuse was the measure was to protect "working families." The Greenway is paralled by toll-free public roads.

  • Subsidize Me!||

    Isn't that in/around Loudoun county? I think the working families out there can afford to pay the toll... oh wait, those working families aren't "working family" type families.

  • BeltwayLurker||

    Yes, about half the county is expensive homes and the other half is mansions.

  • ||

    The problem with progressives love of fees is that they just want to steal the money and use it elsewhere. Where I live they want to start charging fees to use the country dog parks.

    In principle I am fine with that. The people that use the parks ought to have to pay to keep them up. But that is not what is going to happen. The country doesn't see people paying for a service. They see people who have money they can steal. So will collect the fee but they won't use it to maintain the dog park. They will just take the money and use it somewhere else. And everyone will end up paying a fee to use a crappy dog park.

    The same thing happens with national parks. Our national parks are falling apart despite the fact that they raise millions in fees every year. Why? Because congress steals the money from the fees instead of using them to maintain the parks.

  • Brett L||

    Please. I have city owned utilities. They charge higher rates than private utilities in surrounding areas and then use it to subsidize the buses. Your officials are pikers.

  • ||

    They do that to. They are professional thieves. They are just getting around to the dog parks.

  • Pope Jimbo||

    Here in Minnesota the state was kind enough to vote for a new sales tax in only one county (the one with Minneapolis in it) to pay for the Twins stadium.

    The Twins only take so much out of the tax fund each year, the extra pays for playgrounds for poor kids and extended hours for the libraries.

    How likely is it that the tax will be revoked once the stadium has been paid off?

  • Upgrayyed||

    Seeings how we're still paying for the Metrodome- zero.

  • Subsidize Me!||

    They fucked us in a very similar way in Pittsburgh. The Steelers and AAA-Pittsbugh got new stadiums after having been defeated twice in county-wide referendums. Now we have a "Regional Asset District" tax, whatever the fuck that is, so that faithful fans can watch terrible baseball in the nicest park in America, and the Steelers play on the worst turf in the history of football. Yay for local government!

  • Shoeless Chris||

    But Pittsburgh does not have a AAA club... oh wait I see what you did there. As a Cubs fan I enjoy that humorous quip with much relish... and schadenfreud.

  • ||

    I still don't have a problem with charging users of parks and whatnot for using the parks, even if some (not all) of the money is siphoned off for other uses.

    If it is "free", it will be overutilized. Fees cut down on congestion. And the more government is financed by voluntary fees paid by the users of those services, the more libertarian it is.

    Yes, parks and every other thing done by the government should be financed and maintained entirely by fees collected on users, with no transfers, but a step in the right direction should be welcomed.

  • Edwin||

    but building a long ass fence all around a park to exclude people who don't pay wouldn't be cheap

    and it wouldn't be a PUBLIC park anymore either

    What I came up with myself in my head is donation boxes where people can donate if they like the park, and while the park is being paid for, it stays.

    But the problem with that is our psychotic liability system. Even if the municipality takes the deed and claims it's a public park, the courts might find that who ever's running the park are the owners, and that it's a private park, and they have full liability. And nowadays, you can get a million dollars just for stubbing your toe, so a park with full liability wouldn't work. They need the liability protection that public, government-run parks get.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    That really just amounts to double-taxation, prolefeed. Once for the fee and once for when the dog park falls apart and taxes go up to fix it.

  • mj86||

    Its only a step in the right direction if the fees enacted result are offset with lower general tax levies (income, sales, property). Otherwise you're just adding taxes for the things we agree on while allowing government more discretion on how to spend the general funds.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    If user fees can cover the cost of shit like parks, they should be entirely private. Government shouldn't have anything to do with it, period.

  • pmains||

    E.g. In Arizona (and I'm sure other states as well) hybrids can use the multiple occupancy/HOV/diamond lanes. Yay, we're more environmentally conscious. Boo, traffic isn't any better.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Does this mean a new Stossel tonight on FoxBiz?

  • Subsidize Me!||

    According to his blog, yes.

  • AA||

    Does this mean you and capitol l are gonna be creeps and comment on the show again? :)

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    If you're lucky. And I remember.

  • ||

    I like that Stossel is "on our side", but damn if his faux-incredulity isn't grating. He treats his audience like they're idiots, like he's still a local news consumer reporter.

  • Take Care of THIS!||

    What if they are idiots? See for instance that prosecutor he had on the show last week defending making teenagers who have sex with other teenagers into registered sex offenders.

  • Take Care of THIS!||

    LOL, I guess reading is not fundamental for me. I read that as he treats his interviewees as idiots.

  • Subsidize Me!||

    I like his style. Watching statist assholes answer his leading questions is always fun. I think he's treating them like morons, not the audience.

  • ||

    I don't like this either. I suppose it's more a matter of personal taste than Grand Libertarian Strategy, but there's a difference between simply asking questions that lead your target into a trap, and doing so in an obviously mocking and condescending way.

    He also tends to use talking point cliches (the private sector is always better, period!) that don't sound terribly convincing to the unexposed, I think.

  • BakedPenguin||

    I think both of these points are true. The thing is, I'm not sure he could go as far in depth as he needs to while still having guests on his show.

    So many libertarian arguments are non-intuitive; the required background takes a while to explain.

    This is a real advantage for TEAM RED and TEAM BLUE - they can just shout bumper sticker slogans. We can shout "There's no such thing as a free lunch" all we want, unless people know the arguments behind it, they're not going to get it.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    That IS his audience though, Pangloss (nice Candide reference, btw)... But yeah, Stossel's primary audience is people who have no idea about any of this stuff. As much as I feel like he shouldn't dumb it down so much, he's been reporting to that audience for a long, long time now and I think he's got a good handle on the level they're at.

  • ||

    Frankly, I wonder if Stossel himself more-or-less operates on that level. I'm not calling him stupid, because he's not at all, but he's clearly more tuned towards operating on a lowest-common-denominator kind of discourse. He's a base evangelizer, not a high theorist. I have a hard time seeing him actually digging into the intricacies of libertarian theory- including defending his departures from it- with the likes of a Randy Barnett or Tom Palmer, or even Andrew Napolitano.

  • ||

    There's a need and a market for both Lowest Common Denominator and high theorizer libertarianism, and I'm glad Stossel is filling in the LCD niche.

  • ||

    agreed

  • Agreed Prolefeed||

    Stossel has a neiche, and is filling it nicely. Those looking for more, will, those whom just need a quick sound-bite to push them in a slightly more pro-freedom way will benefit from him.

    It appears marketable, so let him build his audience. Who knows what his program will be like in 5 years.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    I think in the professional sense, Stossel does operate on that level, but I think that's good - I'd rather Stossel was introducing these ideas to the public than an asshat like Glenn Beck, who also operates at the LCD level. Wouldn't you?

  • The Rooster||

    Agreed. I find his work elementary now, but it was very exciting to me when I was first starting to see the light.

  • Jen||

    During the latest presidential election, I observed that, while John McCain assumed viewers already knew the background behind every issue, Barack Obama spoke to the country, indeed, like we were all idiots. Somehow he managed to get elected when he never actually said anything at all about his policy plans. Apparently this is a winning strategy.

  • BakedPenguin||

    One of Obama's great skills was making people believe he agreed with them. He did this by hammering home a few points, and then being as much of a weasel as he could on nearly everything else.

    As much as I hate to say it, that's a good political strategy in America.

  • Government of Wolves||

    They actually teach you to do that in political-candidate school (they really, really do exist).

  • Shoeless Chris||

    Do they teach a course on how to bang one of your interns... 'cause I would totally audit that one.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    I had a facebook discussion about this very topic today... Depresses me cause the guy I had it with is a Ph.D candidate... In Philosophy... Yayyyyyyyyy....

  • Old Bull Lee||

    I find Stossel a good gateway drug to present to people who aren't already libertarian-minded. He has a more average-guy-on-the-street approach.

    Of course if you're reading Reason, you are already beyond that level.

  • Zeb||

    I agree, but it is that false-incredulity that got him where he is today.

  • ||

    Well, no offense, but try to remember that you are not representative of the general audience. By and large, if you're a regular commenter on Reason, it's safe to assume you're at least familiar with the libertarian arguments. A lot of the public isn't. And a slow, basic, buildup (treating the audience like idiots) makes the argument follow much more simply and much less threateningly than otherwise might be the case.

  • ||

    I direct people unfamiliar with libertarianism to this site and Stossel in particular. He's a good place to start.

  • IceTrey||

    "In Myths, Lies and Downright Stupidity, I bet my readers $1,000 that they couldn't name one thing that government does better than the private sector."

    Wage war. Waste money. Infringe freedom. There's three. Pay up sucker.

  • BeltwayLurker||

    Restrict competition from the depths of the oceans to the highest heavens. Beat you.

  • IceTrey||

    I said, infringe freedom.

  • ||

    Well, on the war part, the government doesn't build it's own weapons and machinery. Without the private sector, they'd be fighting with rocks.

  • robc||

    Given equal dollar funding, I will take a private military over a government military.

  • T||

    Erik Prince likes the way you think, buddy.

  • Goober||

    Don't be naive. There is a reason Governments exist. They are better at war than anyone else.

    Mercenaries are historically inept.

  • ||

    Not inept. The condottieri were the most talented tacticians & strategists of the Middle Ages (that is, until they found out they didn't have to fight, just maneuver and the other condottiere would surrender, not wanting to risk his investments. The French at the start of the Italian wars had no such motivation to save their troops).

    Mercenaries, though, are untrustworthy.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Pro Lib, I hate to disagree with you, but you're forgetting about certain other countries.

    Also, while they couldn't make a decent pair of shoes or can of tomatoes, they could occasionally come up with some military designs.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Goddamn fucking filter. that should read "some good military designs. The link I had to delete was to the T-34 tank, probably the best tank of WWII.

  • ||

    It would've sucked without Western metallurgy (the early version's armor was awful).

    And Western (specifically American) metallurgy is the product of awesome tasty capitalism.

  • Slut Bunwalla||

    "Waste money" was not an eligible answer because it was too obvious.

  • ||

    Private sector's better at war, too, see the history of Executive Outcomes on that.

  • ||

    Maybe Stossel should make this into a kind of Randi prize for statists. If they can prove the paranormal argument that government is better than the private sector on any point, they get $1,000,000. No one ever collected Randi's million dollars, and no one will collect Stossel's $1000. So go ahead, make it a million!

  • ||

    Hate to bring this up, but the government's got the private sector whipped when it comes to GPS infrastructure. (I'm talking about the satellite constellation, atomic clocks and ground based control systems. Not the consumer devices.)

    I still believe there exist things that meet the strict definition of "public goods" (i.e. non-rival and non-excludable), and in those rare situations, a government is better suited to providing them than the private sector. GPS is just one example.

  • ||

    Who built those satellites? Who built the launchers? Who built the receivers?

  • ||

    Who paid for all of it?

    Taxpayers... ergo, public sector.

  • Zeb||

    Then everything that the government does is private sector, so there is no problem.

  • Ted S.||

    I believe GPS was originally built for defense, ie. for the better targeting of missiles.

    I find it ironic that the left generally hates defense spending and wants spending on R&D, but the only government R&D that's really been worthwhile is the R&D that's been done for defense purposes (GPS or the Internet).

  • ||

    Not missiles, no. JDAMs and arty, not to mention letting the brigade commander tell the A-10 pilot exactly WTF he is.

  • yatesc||

    "...the only government R&D that's really been worthwhile is the R&D that's been done for defense purposes (GPS or the Internet) [or the space program]."

    Fixed that for you.

  • ||

    Redundant. The space program is a military spinoff. We'd have been better off giving NASA's budget and mission to the military and allowing the private sector to capitalize on that investment.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Torontonian,

    I still believe there exist things that meet the strict definition of "public goods" (i.e. non-rival and non-excludable), and in those rare situations, a government is better suited to providing them than the private sector. GPS is just one example.

    post hoc reasoning.

    It's like the arguments in favor of Interstate Highways - only the government could build these, right? Except the argument is being made when the Interstates are already here.

  • ||

    Post hoc reasoning? No... it's basic economics.

    But if you'd like to prove me wrong, I'll await your business plan on how to build and operate a commercially viable GPS platform, without public sector funding.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Torontonian,

    Post hoc reasoning? No... it's basic economics.

    Which tells me you have a very sketchy image of what is basic economics.

    But if you'd like to prove me wrong, I'll await your business plan on how to build and operate a commercially viable GPS platform, without public sector funding.

    Sure - what will you give me in return? Or, do you think making a business plan is peanuts?

  • ||

    "Sure - what will you give me in return? Or, do you think making a business plan is peanuts?"

    You're being evasive, or is that just your way of admitting it can't be done?

  • Basic economist||

    Is the first year college micro-economic instruction on "natural monopolies" the "basic economics" you speak of?

    If so, that is like saying earth, wind, water and air are "basic physics".

    They are old concepts which has been disproved.

    The word "basic" is used incorrectly, because "natural monopolies" are not valid.

    And therefore does not "pertain to or constitute a base"

    Happy reading.

  • ||

    By "basic economics" I'm referring to the concept of a "Public good". You must have missed that lecture.

    Go read the definition yourself.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    This means you think GPS is a public good... What??

    But also, the idea of a public good is fundamentally based on the idea of natural monopolies or the idea that a market could not adequately supply certain things based on high cost, low (but occasionally necessary) demand or based on the importance of the good in question - like drinking water.

    Of all the things government provides for the citizenry, I increasingly believe *nothing* adequately fits that description.

    In spite of government violently monopolizing each of these sectors... Roads can and have been created privately, satellites have been launched privately, schools have been founded privately, and clean drinking water has become a multibillion dollar industry (often providing products like bottled water that are more popular at $1.25 a bottle than even their "free" counterparts).

    Please find me something that the private sector couldn't do better, assuming they're allowed by law to do it.

    E.g. you can't say that government delivers first-class mail to your door step better than UPS since it is illegal for UPS to do that.

  • ||

    Sean,

    "This means you think GPS is a public good... What??"

    Yes, the GPS system (not a single GPS device) is a public good as it meets the two defining characteristics. It's non-rivalrous (meaning everyone can enjoy its use simultaneously), and it's non-excludable (meaning nobody can be denied its use for non-payment). Therefore, every individual will prefer to free-ride rather than pay for it, so there's no profitable way for the private sector to provide it.

    "But also, the idea of a public good is fundamentally based on the idea of natural monopolies or the idea that a market could not adequately supply certain things based on high cost, low (but occasionally necessary) demand or based on the importance of the good in question - like drinking water."

    All completely false. Go back and read the actual definition of "public good" instead of making up your own.

  • ||

    You guys are in trouble with "Torontonian." Sounds a lot like the guy who was all over a private/public debate on the Globe and Mail comment boards a couple of weeks ago. Once he's backed into his terminal corner over "public goods" he's going to tell us how he's got a triple-PhD in economics and that we're all a bunch of under-educated maroons.
    The part that makes me laugh is how super-annuated economists think mentioning their post-secondary bona fides is somehow indicative of their expertise, rather than evidence of their intellectual and theoretical bankruptcy.
    But I thank Lord Keynes for providing us with decades of unintentional comedians.

  • ||

    Probably the same way the cell phone or satellite phone or satellite TV networks got built, eh?

    What you're forgetting is that GPS satellites started going up in the late 1970s, at at time when it was completely impractical to build receivers you could carry around in your hand, as opposed to on a small hand-truck. It took 30 more years of electronics advances before commercial exploitation took off.

    So, yes, if you want some brilliant technology introduced 30 years before its supporting technology that makes it commercially viable is invented, so it can just lie around waiting, then government is the way to go.

    Of course, not a few of those "brilliant" technological time capsules from government might end up costly flops, too. Minitel, anyone? Sematech? Gopher protocol? But you can just edit those out of the history, I guess.

  • Mike||

    Only because they have had a monopoly on it... deciding who can and can't have satellites in space is a great way to do that.

  • ||

    GPS never was a monopoly (viz. NAVSTAR, GLONASS & Galileo.)

  • Sam Grove||

    But launching private satellites has always required government clearance, likewise, the aerospace industry has long fed at the public trough soaking up a lot of engineering talent as well.

    Additionally, the burden of government has made the populace more dependent on public goods.

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    Satellite positioning was and is excludable withing the limits of crytographic key distribution schemes. The system didn't need to have a public channel at all. That said: making it publicly available did, indeed, create enormous wealth.

    But to claim that the government can do it better you don't need to show that the government is the only entity that has done it (given that it was funded and launched with wealth forcibly extracted from the private sector and the lack of private launch capacity was at least partly by government fiat), but that a private version would have been (dollar-for-dollar) less useful.

    There are such things as public goods, but not necessarily as many as you'd think. Further, the list depends on technology. For example, in the early days of radio, managing specturm may well have been something better handled by a centralized entity, but in the context of ultra-wideband packet networks, it is almost certainly better handled by distributed algorithmatic techniques. It is all in the details.

  • IceTrey||

    The radio spectrum could have just been auctioned off with private enterprises given the exclusive rights to a certain segment.

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    ...but who controlled the auction, or the parcelling out of the blocks?

    This is a legitimate claim, but you've still set of a centralized system---or a set of non-overlapping centralized systems. And somewhere in the mix you'll have either a government or a specialized control-body-of-the-spectrum (i.e. a specialized government-like entity) or some mixture of the two.

    That really is different for the situation with ultra-wideband, frequency-hopping, packet systems, which can self organize to accommodate mix and match use.

    Technology matters.

  • Edwin||

    I'm not a fan of our current regulatory scheme, but libertarians often have silly proposals in terms of getting rid of it - they go too far the other way, where everything would be solved by courts.

    Is it shitty that our government is using environmental regulations based on a liberal/socialist psychotic theory that we're going to end the world? Yes. Does that mean that leaving something as complex, that requires significant expertise, as environmental regulation up to the courts is a good idea? No. In that case every idiot would be suing every corporation. Courts would get clogged up. Not to mention that neither jurors nor judges are specially trained in engineering or environmental science. On top of that, most people are imbibed with an anti-science and anti-business mentality. These are the types of people who would not try to avoid jury duty, because they have an axe to grind.

    There's nothing that says that 12 random schmucks making decisions on a case by case basis is more "libertarian" than ANY kind of regulation. One of the most important aspects of a liberal society is the predictability and consistency of government action. Courts don't really provide that. Like they say, do you want a nation of laws or a nation of men?

    The same thing goes for land use regulation. Does Euclidean zoning suck? Yes. But leaving everything to nuisance lawsuits could be even suckier. Indeed, most land use regulation is used to jack up real estate values at the expense of those who don't yet own real estate (the poor and young). Now, in a rural areas that actually have room to expand, most people own houses. How do you think the jurors selected from the area would vote most of the time in nuisance suits? Against more development. Indeed, there's nothing to stop courts from effectively imposing Euclidean zoning if not worse. And court rulings can't really be changed. They can't be voted on by the populace. So if the courts go one way with something, it can't be changed back the other way if the shit really hits the fan. Like with zoning - if one day gas prices REALLY go up, land use laws could be changed to allow for more density, and the apathetic could actually vote for that, being finally stressed by gas prices. But a series precedents aren't vote-able on.

    Indeed, Houston is already using nuisance suits in lieu of zoning (which they don't have), and in very un-libertarian ways.

    and in a more general sense courts are faulty because you have to WAIT for the grievance to be done before someone can sue, and then someone is paid reparations. This brings up problems when you're dealing with pollution and land use regulations, which deal with immoble, expensive buildings and structures. If someone builds a facility that's really smelly, and THEN someone sues for nuisance, what happens? Should the facility be ordered torn down? If not, and the facility owners are ordered to pay, how much? Because it seems to me, the amount of money you'd have to pay to truly cover the costs of a constant horrible smell would be unconstitutionally high. You'd effectively shut down the business. How much would it cost to build and run an effective smell-filterig machine for just one house? I'd estimate on the order of $1000/day just to run it. No business could pay that to numerous homeowners. It seems better to me to just zone for externalities before-hand.

  • WTF||

    Dude, this isn't your personal blog. Tighten it up!

  • ||

    Edwin: You might want to occasionally mix in the key underneath the "insert" key. Just try it out a few times.

  • ||

    If you mean the key to the right of the +/= key, then quite a few people here could benefit from using it.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Edwin,

    Indeed, Houston is already using nuisance suits in lieu of zoning (which they don't have), and in very un-libertarian ways.

    For instance?

    Don't be silly. I lived for 3 years in the uber-capital of zoning, Santa Cruz CA, and you could not find a fucking Walmart 30 miles from the whole goddamned-to-hell city. I have one HEB just a few hundred feet from my home here in Houston, plus three Walmarts within 20 miles, 2 of them supercenters.

    Who cares about the so-called "nuisance suits"? They first have to prevail in court. Instead, try to change a city zoning ordinance - it's almost impossible, unless you put the whole council against the wall and shoot them all with Springfield .30-06 (my favorite).

  • Drax the Destroyer||

    Ah, but you forget OM, Wal-Marts are ugly demeaning places that enslave the poor (while providing them better products at cheaper prices) that we shouldn't let spoil the heavily subsidized downtown areas of our cities or the natural beauty of our country's vistas. That only leaves New Jersey, Gary, IN and half of fly over country to pave with big box stores.

    In related news, Wal-Mart is the shit.

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    HEBs are one of the things I miss about Texas. There are some pretty good supermarkets just about everywhere, but few hit the same combination of [wide price-n-quality range|deep product selection|comfortable shopping environment|good hours] that HEB provides.

  • Geotpf||

    Here's a simplier way to put it:

    In a Libertarian paradise, there would be no pollution control requirements for cars. So, most cars wouldn't have pollution controls (they increase the cost and decrease the performance of the vehicle). So, if my kid got asthma or whatever from all that pollution, my recourse would be to sue every single car owner in the city for the .00000001% of the illness that their one polluting car caused it. Yeah, right.

  • ||

    That's not necessarily true. Think about it for a while and I'm sure you can come up with some reasons why the scenario you predict could be avoided even in a free world.

  • T||

    What's that thing called? Something about a pig tax? No, that's not it.

    Oh, yeah, Pigouvian taxes. Because no libertarian anywhere has ever suggested those, right, Geotpf?

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    Of course Pigouvian taxes are a libertarian ideal, but they have a couple of practical problems:

    1) You have to identify who is doing how much of what kind of harm to whom.

    2) You need an entity to collect the tax, manage the abatement spending, and distribute the remainder to those who are harmed anyway.

    which ends up looking a lot like a governmental policy-making process and a governmental revenue/spending/rebate type thingy.

    So this approach doesn't get you to a miniarchist final state, but rather leaves you trying to maintain a small government against all the forces that constantly try to expand it.

  • ||

    Not only that, but when I mention net zero carbon taxes, most around here seem to be opposed.

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    Well, perhaps they don't see non-zero carbon as a harm that need addressing...

    That would be a disagreement at step 1.

  • ||

    Right. Because no one would think of, say, designing a gated community in which part of the contract was that you had to drive a non-polluting car.

    Or it would never occur to citizens to voluntarily pay money into a fund that compensated people who bought cleaner cars for the extra cost.

    I mean, yeah, people have absolutely no ability to organize themselves into voluntary compacts that solve collective-action problems. The only way to solve such problems is for the people to...voluntarily..organize..er..themselves...hmm...into governments, which then enforce the results.

    You're an idiot, first class, with oak leaves and raisins.

  • Coeus||

    One of the most important aspects of a liberal society is the predictability and consistency of government action.

    hehe

  • Sam Grove||

    How do you think the jurors selected from the area would vote most of the time in nuisance suits? Against more development.

    Now people just get on zoning and planning commissions to get that result.

  • ||

    "One of the most important aspects of a liberal society is the predictability and consistency of government action."

    /is there an emoticon for 'spit take'?

  • ||

    Your what-ifs are all very interesting but why do they even require an answer? I don't understand why one solution is to just NOT get involved in those questions. Let people sort 'em out however they see fit.

  • ||

    Municipal water and sewer utilities are able to borrow money at much lower bond rates than private utilities and, as a result, they are able to provide the same utility service at a lower cost even though some of their O&M costs may be higher.

    Where's my $1,000?

  • Edwin||

    Stossel and all the other nerdo douche doctrinaire libertarians would just exclaim "But that's a fault of government laws!!"

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Lamar,

    Doing business with stolen money does not count. The municipal W&S systems are always subsidized - with stolen money. Stolen at bayonet point, from our wallets or paychecks.

  • Edwin||

    Why doesn't it count? Did Stossel say it doesn't count?

    Maybe if all your theory relies on politics and bad laws not existing in the first place, it's faulty.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Edwin,

    Why doesn't it count?

    Because RACKETS are not "better ways" of doing something. That's why.

  • Edwin||

    but if there's already a "racket", part of your plan needs involve how you deal with that. Otherwise it's a faulty plan.

    Last I checked, plans and concepts are meant to apply to reality.

    It's really easy to come up with a business or management model and use it in the real world. It's a lot harder to change a law. And you can't just be like "OK, but assume for a second we could get that law changed", because then you're talking hypotheticals instead of reality.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Edwin,

    but if there's already a "racket", part of your plan needs involve how you deal with that. Otherwise it's a faulty plan.

    What are you talking about? The point is that if W&S services as ran by the government are subsidized through taxes, then they are rackets, not businesses. You do not compare a business with a racket, as easy as that.

  • Edwin||

    You keep on avoiding the issue

    How, in the REAL WORLD, do you run a business better than the government can?

    One poster pointed out why municipalities can offer services for less. You acted like he's somehow "wrong" because it involves weird loopholes in law. I said it isn't wrong, becuase it takes into account all the present realities. Stossel never said he was speaking about how HYPOTHETICAL businesses and legal schemes could work better, just what schemes can work better period, i.e. in the real world.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Edwin,

    How, in the REAL WORLD, do you run a business better than the government can?

    Want examples, or the theory behind the price system?

    Examples: Soviet cars versus American cars.

    See? That was easy.

    Idiot.

    One poster pointed out why municipalities can offer services for less.

    He [the poster] was being facetious, you imbecile. Municipal W&S offer variable-usage services at fixed prices (not even at a rate). Is that supposed to be a better business approach?

  • Edwin||

    I don't even understand how that's a response anymore...

    Again, he's said that municipalities are able to provide cheaper utilities services because of a loophole in the law that allows them to have lower overall costs because they get lower bond rates.

    You tried to say that that example doesn't "count" because it's based on a loophole in law itself. I'm telling you that that doesn't disqualify it. Even though we libertarians would LIKE to change a lot of laws, we can't in the short run. And Stossel never added that exception to his proposal. He said "What businesses can be run better?" And that guy up there gave an example. If you take cheaper service to mean better, which I do, then I'd say he made a proposal.

  • Edwin||

    and by the way, you can't charge sewer service according to use, period. There are no poop-meters.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Edwin,

    and by the way, you can't charge sewer service according to use, period. There are no poop-meters.

    Edwin, sweetheart, you CAN. What the government does is BAD PRACTICE, that's all. A company that cleans septic tanks charge you by VOLUME, so you CAN measure poop.

    You lack imagination - just like a lefty! Imagine that . . .

  • Edwin||

    OK, Old Mexican, listen to me, OK?

    I work in the development and construction industry, so I know what I'm talking about, OK? So for once in your life listen. You're trying to talk about something that's outside your expertise, and you're making a jackass out of yourself

    YOU CAN'T MEASURE SEPTIC SEWER USAGE. It's not feasible, or even possible. The lines are buried deep underground. A septic system is different. Septic lines are deep underground pipes. Even if you put some sort of device that measured usage in them (which would be expensive and difficult to upkeep), said device would end up having to restrict the flow of the waste to measure how much is coming through. But the waste goes way to slowly for you to go that. The grade is extremely subtle, as little as 1 ft. over 1000 ft. and it's very important that the waste go through unobstructed for the whole system to work properly.

    For once in your life stop theorizing and listen to somebody who's got a little expertise.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Edwin,

    I work in the development and construction industry, so I know what I'm talking about, OK?

    No, Edwin - it just makes your comments even more embarrasing, as in "you should know better."

    I also work in industry, as a purchaser of services and goods, so I KNOW what I am talking about.

    YOU CAN'T MEASURE SEPTIC SEWER USAGE. It's not feasible, or even possible.

    I shall tell that to all those suppliers that come clean up our septci systems - "you can't charge me by volume! Edwin told me it was impossible!"

  • Edwin||

    MORON THAT'S NOT THE SAME THING

    what are you damaged in the head? A septic systm isn't the same thing as Sanitary Sewers aka septic lines aka septic sewers. Houses that have these don't HAVE a septic TANK that can be pumped out. There are only pipes that eventually make their way to the treatment center.

    LISTEN FOR ONCE IN YOUR LIFE

    unless you're saying every house should have its own, much much more expensive, septic system, which can't even be used for dense multi-unit buildings. That might actaully put some sense into what you're saying, but it'd also be really stupid.

  • ||

    Edwin, I think what you mean to say is that there is no cost effective way to measure septic sewer usage. Which is quite possibly true.

    But all that tells us is that a theoretical private-sector sewer system would set aside that impractical option and instead use some other pricing plan that actually is practical and cost-effective. Or maybe they'd actually sell something easily metered, like water, and consider the sewers and water treatment centers a side operation.

    Private businesses have to figure out if a particular course of action is economically sustainable before they embrace it. Unlike, say, the government, which can mandate insanely complex and expensive schemes without caring how much they cost or whether they actually work.

  • ||

    y"ou can't charge sewer service according to use, period. There are no poop-meters."

    Wrong again. Edmonton, Alberta, meters fresh water. It ALSO charges for waste water, as a percentage of the fresh-water bill. Might just be semantics, but it's right there on the bill, even if all your fresh water fed the lawn or garden.

  • Soonerliberty||

    Fixing prices does not eliminate costs, which means you need some sort of subsidy from gov't to compete, meaning you have to expropriate the customers to provide a cheaper service to them.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    This doesn't mean they're running the actual business better or more efficiently - in fact, quite the opposite - it means that they are doing a much less efficient job of running their "businesses" than private suppliers, but thanks to government force can steal tax money to cover their losses.

    Try to understand it this way:

    You and I each own a McDonald's franchise. I am a multibillionaire and you're a regular joe with a mortgage. You are a much more savvy businessman than I, however (how I became a billionaire will be ignored...) and you put your franchise where people want burgers and I put mine sandwiched between a Whole Foods and a yoga studio in the middle of rich-people central.

    Your McDonald's succeeds wildly, while mine fails.

    Cept here's the joke on you - being a billionaire, I sink hundreds of thousands into my franchise that I earned off of investments unrelated to my burger business.

    Am I running the business of McDonald's better than you??

    NO. Of course not.

    I'm cheating on my accounting by infusing cash from a completely separate enterprise to make it look like I'm doing better than I really am.

  • ||

    As a true-north libertarian, I have a hard time liking the "government doesn't do anything good!" argument. Yes, you can get into abstract economic efficiency arguments, and teach people about Bastiat's that which is not seen, but there are too many obvious day-to-day examples where the government provides something to people where the private sector does not. Sometimes that's because private options have been crowded out (roads, education), sometimes that's because the government did something economically inefficient with resources that should have been used for something else (moon landings, military technology). Either way, though, telling your average observer "the government doesn't do anything for you!" is going to sound awfully silly and easily contradicted.

  • ||

    I don't think you're right. The root of the evil is the very notion that goverment can even in principle "do things for you." It has to be attacked at the root. You'll never get anywhere arguing that, sure, government can "do things for you," but not everything, or not this and that.

    Once you've admitted that goverment can "do things for you," you've lost. People will always find more and more stuff they want "done for themselves" and figure it's reasonable to ask government to do it, for the same obvious reason that once your toddler realizes you can carry him places without his doing any walking, he'll ask to be carried everywhere all the time, until and unless you refuse.

    Thinking government can "do things for you" -- instead of the truth, which is that government can only force other people to do things for you, and, obviously will be forcing you to do things for other people -- is essentially believing in a free lunch. You'll never get anywhere arguing that, sure, you can have a free lunch, but you can only have peanut butter and jelly, not ham and Swiss.

  • ||

    Municipal water and sewer utilities are able to borrow money at much lower bond rates than private utilities and, as a result, they are able to provide the same utility service at a lower cost even though some of their O&M costs may be higher.

    Because they are "able to" charge less doesn't mean they actually do charge less.

    Even if they do charge less, you have to add in whatever subsidies they get. Taxpayer backing for their bonds is a subsidy.

    I think Stossel's money is still safe. Nice try, though.

  • Edwin||

    A) see my comment above about political realities

    B)OK, let me humor you on the utilities/services thing. Now things like electric, water, etc. are easy, because they have meters and can be shut off house per house and unit per unit. But septic sewer not so much. You can't shut off sanitary sewer service by its very nature. So what could a private company do? Just what the municipalities do, charge you yearly, and if you don't pay up, put a lien on your house/unit. Eventually you get kicked out of your house and it gets taken.

    It "works", but it also means private companies can kick people out of their houses. I don't know if I'm OK with that. There's a lot of implications with that and incentives and motivations. And you know what? Maybe I do trust a town to have that power as opposed to a private company. Deal with it.

    How about with roads? In theory you could do the same thing to make people pay for road upkeep. But the problem with that is that road access for landowners is built into common law, because it's a basic element of landownership, and freedom. You don't really own land if you can't access it. So by law, no one can restrict your access to your real estate. Again, the lien thing could work, maybe.

    And with roads, part of what you'd pay for would be profits for the road-management company. That immediately makes me sceptical as to whether they could in the long run provide cheaper service. Sure, they can for large highways where people are trying to avoid traffic in dense areas, but what about for small suburban streets? Something tells me I'd end up paying more if I had to pay for someone's proft.

    And how many tolls are you going to have? Are there going to be tolls on every main suburban road? How about right in front of my house?

    Furthermore, with none of these services do you have any individual choice. You can't switch your service company. Your whole subdivision, or building , or area could, but not just one individual. So yeah, people could meet and discuss which company they want to use/switch to, but that right there adds costs. Renting out a big room, like at the mariott or something, ain't cheap. Going to a town meeting is.
    And in these collectives, dealing with utility/road management companies, how much say does each person have? Are decisions made in a Republican manner? Or by majority vote? Or maybe by majority above a certain percentage? What if you vote against switching your utility company, but passes anywhere, and then all of a sudden a cost is born upon you that you must pay, to do the work to switch whatever lines need to be switcheD? What if you;re the one poor guy in your neighborhood, and you voted against it because you can't afford that payment?

    I'm not saying I completely disbelieve the idea of private utilities and roads, just that I'm skeptical. And I know that these same issues come up with municipal control. But maybe I trust municipal control better. It seems to me there are advantages to there being only one thingy or entity to deal with than lots of little ones, especially when it comes to corruption. If I get screwed over by a private company, it's just breach of contract. If I get screwed over by a municipality, they could be brought up on corruption charges and go to jail. Or in general a judge can order something to be more equitable for the poor.
    And in general, I'm partial to dealing with just one thing/municipality, because all eyes end up being on that one entity.

  • Edwin||

    Or how about public transportation? Even without eminent domain, I could see how government can still do better. Sure, MAYBE large corporations will band together and buy easements and hold onto them for the future as a city grows, so they can later build public transport. But I've been in business, I've seen what it's like. I work in development. Most businesses and landowners are a lot more short-sighted. They just do what's necessary to build whatever it is they're building and then get rid of it or start renting it out. And good luck getting landowners to give you easements for public transport infrastructure. Nobody wants that near their house, and fancy-ass houses are all anybody wants to build, they're the only thing that looks profitable.

    But a municipality, by taking advantage of its leverage with its ability not to accept dedicated streets (and its ability to take costs of taking care of infrastructure off of homeowners), and planning early, while land prices are still cheap, could much better create a system of easements which could later be sold to public transportation companies to build subways, etc. All without ever even using eminent domain.

    Like I said, I don't think it would be so easy, if at all possible, with a bunch of independent landowners.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    And with roads, part of what you'd pay for would be profits for the road-management company. That immediately makes me sceptical as to whether they could in the long run provide cheaper service.

    Holy fuck - any long-winded bastard who cannot figure out that profits make things cheaper, in the long run, is not worth reading.

  • Edwin||

    and anybody who doesn't understand that that might not always be the case is an idiot

  • The Angry Optimist||

    It is the case - always.

  • Edwin||

    Bullshit, says who? Based on what? Oh yeah that's right, your blind faith in the free market.

    I;ve seen businesses run and I could easily see how I'd end up paying more because of the profits of a private company. Management and property management companies especially seem to just sit there and collect the payments, while not doing much of anything.

  • Soonerliberty||

    Yes, and Scrooge McDuck swims in a vault full of gold, not providing any service for society.

  • ||

    Well, there's common sense. And if that doesn't work for you, there's always the glaring historical examples -- everything from the USSR to the Israeli kibbutzim. Every last time that the profit motive has been replaced with something else -- the glory of being a Hero of the [Insert Polity Here] -- it has ended up an economic disaster.

    But don't let any historical facts stand in the way of your beautiful theory, eh?

  • Edwin||

    Yeah, but that doesn't mean it's so for EVERYTHING, genius

  • ||

    Then manage the properties yourself, Mr. Bigshot Developer.
    People make money providing service to other people.
    Some of those service providers are property managers.
    Any notion that they "just sit there" reveals you as a Marxist, even if you don't self-declare.

  • Geotpf||

    Roads are a very bad example here. Imagine if a city built or maintained no roads (I'm not talking freeways/tollways-I'm talking about that thing in front of your driveway). What roads that existed would be narrow dirt paths, at best.

  • T||

    The road in front of my house was built and is maintained by a private entity with no .gov funding. It looks amazingly like a 2 lane concrete road with curbs and sidewalks and everything. How did that come to pass, I wonder?

  • droz||

    Homeowner's Association in a middle to upper class neighborhood?

  • ||

    If the roads wer all narrow dirt paths at best might indicate that that was all that was worth paying for.

  • Zeb||

    Fuck it. I like public streets (for highways private options seem promising). If the government just provided courts and streets and a small defensive military, I would be satisfied.

  • #||

    developers would mbuilt the side roads when they built the houses and some kind of nieghborhood association could maintain them, just as we have condo fees an condo associations to maintain commonly used areas.

  • ||

    No, bare land strata developments build and maintain their own roads.
    Are today's statist trolls more obtuse than usual today or is it my imagination?

  • Sigmund Freud||

    "Human life in common is only made possible when a majority comes together which is stronger than any separate individual and which remains united against all separate individuals. The power of this community is then set up as 'right' in opposition to the power of the individual, which is condemned as brute force."

  • Me||

    What about mail delivery? The USPS is not subsidized by taxpayers (it's funded entirely by revenue raised by sales of postage), so you can't argue that it doesn't count because it works with stolen money. It costs far less to send a letter by Priority Mail than to FedEx it or UPS it. Yes, the USPS has a state imposed monopoly on first-class mail, but I don't believe that if it were broken up, the result would be a private enterprise that enabled me to send a card from the East to the West Coast in 2-3 days for 44 cents. Private enterprises would maximize profits and use price discrimination - they wouldn't have a sort of cross-subsidizing break-even model that enabled all people everywhere to pay one low rate to send a letter anywhere. Is this efficient? No. But is your goal efficiency or standardization and availability? It depends what you mean by "does it better than private enterprise." Does WHAT better? Enables me (and everyone else, no matter where they live) to send a letter cross country for under 50 cents? I'm pretty sure the government does that better than the private sector would. But the private sector would actually be turning a profit too, and thereby contributing to the economy, so there's that to consider.

  • ||

    Now I've seen it all. Offering the POSTAL SERVICE as a model of government successes. Wow.

  • Drax the Destroyer||

    I'm still waiting for those fucks to get a package to me from the next state over. I placed the order a month ago. Methinks they lost it. Fuckers.

  • IceTrey||

    Uh, the Post Office is subsidized.

    http://stossel.blogs.foxbusine.....sidized-2/

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Me,

    What about mail delivery? The USPS is not subsidized by taxpayers[...]

    Well, it is subsidized through government-backed loans and such. But even so, if the service was SO competitive, why does the USPS enjoy a monopoly of letter delivery, BY LAW? That doesn't give anybody a chance to compete and allow the USPS to show just how good it is, does it?

  • Jen||

    Are you sure about this monopoly thing? I send letters via private carriers all the time - Fed Ex or Lawyer's Service.

  • dave b.||

    If you really believe that the USPS is not subsidized by taxpayers, then I have a bridge to sell you. When I look at the annual reports of other companies, I never see 'appropriations from Congress' or 'capital contributions from the US government' as one of the line items.

    Not to mention the fact that their perpetual descent into bankruptcy would indicate to a person with a brain that they cannot profitably send mail for 44 cents.

  • #||

    the government makes it illegal for a private company to deliver mail. So the USPS has a monopoly.

  • ||

    Internet service providers bill on a cross subsidized manner. One cost no matter how much data you transfer.

  • Van||

    There is another possibility besides privatization, make government accountable to the people. No one seems to know how to accomplish this though.

  • Lord Ballsac||

    "...make government accountable to the people."

    Hence, the Second Amendment.

  • Tony||

    Define "better." Maybe a well-funded private school does a better job than a public school. That misses the point of whether education--a public good--is available universally. The same can be said about roads. Maybe a particular private road is better than all public roads, but will the private sector organically produce an efficient and widely-accessible road infrastructure? The same can be argued for police, fire, healthcare, and any other service that is meant to be available to the entire public.

  • ||

    Please take at least 5 minutes to read and learn about the ideas you are critiquing. There are myriad case studies and real-world examples of private provision of every single thing you listed.

    Not to mention that public schools cost more per pupil than private schools.

  • Tony||

    Really? I fail to see how you could study a real-world example of something that has never existed, such as universal private education.

  • Edwin||

    +1

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    So, it's only "good" if it's universal?

  • Tony||

    Isn't that preferable than kids getting educated based solely on whether their parents can afford it? How is that fair to kids?

  • ||

    What parent can't afford to teach his kid how to read and write, do arithmetic, and do whatever job at which the parent himself is an expert?

    You're fantastically overvaluing the modern public education. It is largely useless, a parking place and free daycare center for students to rot for 12 years absorbing social dogma and jumping through hoops of almost no permanent use at all. Quick, name 5 things you learned in 4th grade -- not counting your regular practise of reading, writing and arithmetic, which you could just as well done at home, or in the context of an apprenticeship -- that you use every day in your job, if you have one.

    Almost everyone can -- could, once upon a time -- learn all the genuinely useful skills he needs in 6 or 7 years of part-time cheap schooling, which any parent could -- and did -- afford. For the rest, for those who really are brilliant enough to be doctors and physicists and so forth, the ability to sensibly borrow against future earnings to make present capital investments is well established. This is how we buy houses and start businesses, you know.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    The Children!!!

    I knew you were going to play that card, Tony. Sure as the sun rises.

  • Tony||

    TLG you can't dismiss the basic point of civilization, raising children, as a "card" that liberals play. You don't want to talk about children because as non-free agents who depend heavily on the random circumstances of their birth, your silly philosophy can't account for them.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    IOW, I hate children. Right. Got it.

    Not a NEW argument, though.

  • ||

    "So, it's only "good" if it's universal?"

    Sounds suspiciously Canadian.

  • Soonerliberty||

    So, you monopolize primary education and wonder why you can't find a real-world example. Brilliant! You can, however, look back to when Britain had no universal education and Prussia did. They had about the same amount of kids in school. That's interesting, though, because gov't forces kids to be indoctrinated, I mean, umm, educated, in its schools. Private schools cannot do that, because they depend on choice. I guess you prefer violence.

  • Tony||

    Education is not monopolized by the state, at least not in the US. But the necessity for public education was in the fact that the "free market" had not ever gotten around to providing it universally. These things don't come about by totalitarian schemes, but because of a failure of the market to provide something people need or want.

  • Soonerliberty||

    Primary education is monopolized and gov't-mandated.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    Bwahh??

    Tony. For the love of god... Read what you write, think about it for five seconds, and then - typically - delete it all upon the recognition that it was retarded.

    Education. In the US. IS monopolized by the state. Even if you send your kids to private school... Fuck... Even if you have no kids at all!... You pay for public education. Kids are also required, by law, to attend and bused in to said public schools.

    The fact that a fraction of parents have taken their kids out of those schools at great personal cost and sent them to the limited alternatives available in such a crowded-out market, should tell you that the gov't run schools are horrendous.

  • Tony||

    Okay fine it's monopolized. I don't care. I'm suspicious of private schools and even more suspicious of home schooling. Parents send their kids to private schools because they're rich and they can afford it and there are fewer minorities there. The outcomes are surprisingly not that different especially if you account for a higher poor student population in public schools.

  • ||

    Gosh, you are so full of shit. Private schools, religious schools, and home schooling routinely and substantially outperform public schools.

    Plus there's a nice racist comment in there about the student population in public schools. "Poor" being a euphemism for "black" or "brown," as we know. You think they're just intrinsically stupid, huh? Require way more teaching than the smart white kids in the 'burbs, huh? Naughty.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    "Parents send their kids to private schools because they're rich"

    Like Obama's kids? Hmm? Hmm?

  • Eric||

    You're full of it, Tony. My mother, a genuinely hard-working immigrant from a hispanic region of the sort purportedly extolled by your party, home-schooled myself and the rest of my family. All of us did much better than our peers at any given subject, and despite English being her (and to some extent, our) second language, we were and are much better at communicating than our peers. Mind you, we spent less time doing our schoolwork than others, and our school was much more fun than the equivalent. I'm "socially adjusted" under the broad definition that I have friends and am affable and well-mannered. I'm currently in a university on a full ride scholarship, and am doing well. That your precious "system" hasn't done better than a working-class immigrant at teaching its citizens reflects poorly on your beliefs, not mine.

  • Tony||

    Well I went to a public school and got a full ride to university as well. So our anecdotes cancel each other out.

    I'm suspicious of homsechooling because the majority of it is based on religious indoctrination.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    Yeah! Only religious nuts homeschool!

    That's what you REALLY want to say, Tony.

  • ||

    "I'm suspicious of homsechooling because the majority of it is based on religious indoctrination."

    In Calgary, Alberta, there is a school for kids who want to combine education with their development as athletes.

    So, you're wrong. Again.

    Is it possible this is fake Tony we've got here? Could a real person come back here, story after story, and illustrate his complete and utter dillweeditude?

  • Sam Grove||

    You think universal government controlled education is a public good.

    I think it's a public evil.

  • T||

    Education, police, fire, healthcare, and roads are not public goods. One more time for the slow class: non-rivalrous and non-excludable. "Public good" is not shorthand for "good for some segment of the public". It has a meaning, and I know it's been explained to you before.

  • ||

    Police could easily meet the definition.

    But I agree with you on the others.

  • MNG||

    +1

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Tony,

    Define "better." Maybe a well-funded private school does a better job than a public school. That misses the point of whether education--a public good--is available universally.

    Education is not a public good, Tony. People do not receive education as plants receive sunlight. First, a person must be willing to be educated, so that means education is a personal choice. Second, somebody must be willing to provide you with materials and knowledge. Not even if the educator were a SLAVE could you still say education is a "public good", because the time of an educator is still subject to SCARCITY.

    The same can be said about roads.

    No, it cannot be. That's Stossel's point. Roads have been served better as private enterprises than as government services.

  • Tony||

    In a private market education very probably would be too scarce to be available universally. That's precisely why we raise taxes to pay for public education. Some things are good even if they don't make someone a profit, you know.

  • Brian Trust||

    "In a private market education very probably would be too scarce to be available universally."

    Why?

  • Tony||

    Thirteen years of learning costs a lot of money, and not everyone will be able to afford it. Yes it's redistributionist. But I promise the payoff is worth it. Not having 90% of the country illiterate has its economic rewards.

  • ||

    The only reason someone spends 13 years in public school is basically because its required. If you drop out in the 8th grade someone's going to jail.

  • Sam Grove||

    It certainly costs a lot when government and unionized teachers provide it.

  • iamtheeviltwin||

    Right on, because you know that those poorest of the poor would never be offered quality private education...

    oh wait

    "Wajid had 285 children and 13 teachers when I first met him, and he also taught mathematics to the older children. His fees ranged from 60 rupees to 100 rupees per month--$1.33 to $2.22 at the exchange rates then--depending on the children's grade, the lowest for kindergarten and rising as the children progressed through school.

    These fees were affordable to parents, he told me, who were largely day laborers and rickshaw pullers, market traders and mechanics--earning perhaps a dollar a day. Parents, I was told, valued education highly and would scrimp and save to ensure that their children got the best education they could afford"

    I guess the poorest of the poor can have private education choices they can afford...

    NM

  • ||

    "Thirteen years of learning costs a lot of money, and not everyone will be able to afford it...But I promise the payoff is worth it."

    My father and most of his generation didn't get past sixth grade. He showed a lot fewer signs of retardation than the average Edwin, Tony or Torontonian. He just didn't know how to dress up what he saw in the real world with Keynesian claptrap.

    Which is my way of saying that, in a lot of cases, that extra 6-10 years of "education" is money flushed down the sh!tter.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Tony,

    In a private market education very probably would be too scarce to be available universally. That's precisely why we raise taxes to pay for public education.

    You just demonstrated you do not have a grasp of what "scarcity" means, either.

    Even with taxpayer-paid education, educators cannot be at all places at the same time - their time is scarce. You cannot put more children than a schoolroom can fit, and so on.

    It is not that Private School is more "scarce" just because it is private. It is more scarce because there's not enough supply to fit the demand - that's the economic concept. And certainly there is NOT an infinite supply of teachers or desks, so, ergo, education cannot be a PUBLIC good.

  • Tony||

    I may not have the vast Econ 101 textbook (chapter 1, paragraph 1) knowledge that you do, but I do know that if you tax people to buy more teachers and desks, you have more teachers and desks.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    Tony, you've had ample time to become educated about this topic, you simply refuse to do so.

    But at least you admit that you have not seen so much as a single paragraph of chapter 1 of Econ 101.

    Perhaps before you open your stupid maw in the future, you should rectify that problem.

  • Brian Trust||

    Or you have the same number of teachers and a larger number of union reps lobbying for more money.

  • DesigNate||

    Until you run out of people to tax. Or until the people you're taxing run out of money.

  • Tony||

    That's true. In the event of a catastrophe that wipes out the population or a ridiculous tax policy that takes 100% of income, we would have problems funding education.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    But a 90% tax rate is okay, then?

  • iamtheeviltwin||

    "... I do know that if you tax people to buy more teachers and desks, you have more teachers and desks."

    Which is why with education spending increasing year after year, classroom sizes keep going up...good to see those increased taxes adding more teachers to the classroom.

    BTW Here is a citation before you ask...

    and funding has been increasing as well

  • ||

    Or you have fewer but much more expensive teachers and desks. Which work no better than the less expensive ones did. And which never, ever get any cheaper. This should sound familiar.

  • Soonerliberty||

    What about the negative externalities of education --> better educated criminals, indoctrinated voters, etc. Why do you make the mistake of only looking at so-called positive externalities?

  • Coeus||

    For starters, he looks at indoctrinated voters as a positive. That's why he's suspicious of private and homeschool. Those students haven't always received the approved versions of history and civics.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    Liberals hate homeschooling because it takes control of the children away from the state.

    Liberals LOVE private schools, but only for themselves. Specifically, for their leaders in Washington DC.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    And Tony demonstrates that he does not know the definition of a "public good". Hint: It's not something "good" that you think should be available to the "public" for "free".

  • Tony||

    Okay collective goods then. If government provides something universally then it becomes a public good.

  • Subsidize Me!||

    Trillions in government debt is not a public good.

    But since the (reportedly) rich will (supposedly) pay for it in the future (hopefully), it's not provided to everyone equally (presumably).

  • IceTrey||

    If we had a libertarian society we wouldn't need roads because we would have flying cars and hoverboards.

  • Tony||

    What about a mixed economy prevents people from innovating these things or anything else? Innovation doesn't depend on the ability to acquire an absolute amount of wealth.

  • IceTrey||

    Regulation. Taxation. Licensing. They all stifle innovation. Didn't you read the story about the guy giving free rides to drunks and getting arrested because he doesn't have a $10 hack license?

  • Tony||

    You're begging the question. How do these things stifle innovation? I don't think having to pay $10 for a license stifled that guy's ability to do anything.

  • Subsidize Me!||

    It does if the dickweed granting the license forgets about it, is backed up by months of paperwork, doesn't think he filled out the form correctly, etc. Or he could just be bought off by a special interest and fuck the applicant over - which happened.

    Regulation doesn't stifle innovation when it is applied equally and predictably (predictability being absolutely necessary). A bureaucrat whose mind is subject to change at any moment, and the "law" with it, DOES stifle innovation.

  • IceTrey||

    Seriously? If he doesn't get the license he has to quite what he is doing to avoid going to jail or he has to quite what he is doing because he is in jail. Is that stifling enough for you?

  • Tony||

    Or he could pay $10...

  • IceTrey||

    Again, read the fucking story. He tried to get the license and they said he couldn't have it. That's why when he continued to provide his service anyway he got arrested. Fucking retard.

  • ||

    "Or he could pay $10..."

    Because ALL licensing involves a single piece of paper and ten bucks.

    I feel like my IQ gets lowered just being exposed to Tony's nincompoopery.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    And, once again, Tony uses any excuse to bash the private sector.

  • ||

    Private enterprise does it better... IN BED.

    I don't want to grow up.

    Regardless, here's an odd thought (alcohol powered!). Let's take Stossel's premise that Government can't do anything better than Private Enterprise (something I agree with). Well then, why have government at all? Full on anarchy, baby!

    War? Nah, we can have a private company do that. Build roads? That was most of the article. Civil disputes? We'll go vigilante on their asses!

    What then do we need the government for? What is it good for?

  • Tony||

    To represent the interests of all the people rather than just the few who manage to grab the most loot and guns (they're called "producers" here).

  • ||

    To represent the interests of all the people

    Oh yeah, I forgot, Kelo and the Healthcare Bill were about the interests of all the people. Or giving a professional sports team millions for a new stadium while their schools wallow in shit (Charlotte-Mecklenburg). Or the "stimulus" bill, a subject of rife debate on whether or not it did any good. Or the War on Drugs.

    Being representative of a population is a theoretical bonus to government, but this is a practical sort of discussion (Stossel used real-world examples and everything!).

  • Tony||

    Did I say gov't can't ever do anything wrong?

  • Sean W. Malone||

    That is the way you usually make it seem, but what i think we're all really waiting for is for you to realize that government *rarely* does anything RIGHT.

    And on net, the state has a pretty appalling record filled with abuse, corruption, murder, violence, war & the dumbest economic fallacies ever exposed 200+ years ago.

  • Government of Wolves||

    No, in a capitalist econmy, those few are those who have managed to provide services for the many at prices acceptable to them. They didn't 'grab' anything - they profited through a system of mutual exchange and mutual benefit.

    And unlike government, which shifts around pre-existing wealth according to its design of what The People (really politically powerful swing interest groups) need to prosper, 'producers' seek out services which people desire and provide them according to an efficient model. They create a better world by doing so - wealth creation, pure and simple.

  • Subsidize Me!||

    But government cannot ever represent the interests of all people. This is where progressives go way the fuck off the rails: first, assuming that there is a goal of humanity; and second, that you have found the necessary method of achieving that goal on behalf of everyone, if only...

    The proliferation of identity politics proves you wrong, Tony. All the little carve-outs, special incentives and protected classes you people create are symptoms of the disease: that a system of government in which one can vote to appropriate that of his neighbor is incapable of protecting the interests of all its people.

  • Tony||

    I believe that creating protected classes--based on the reality of a society with historical problems with discrimination--does represent the interests of all the people, even if you're not in any of them.

  • Edwin||

    I think he was speaking more along the lines of special interests (corporate) and political balkanization

  • Subsidize Me!||

    I think he was speaking more along the lines of special interests (corporate) and political balkanization

    It's all fruit of the same fucked-up tree.

  • Subsidize Me!||

    No. At best, everyone is fucked over equally. In the best case scenario, the protected class eventually comes to depend on special protection for its continued security - with everyone else paying the bill ad infinitum. In the most likely scenario, protected classes continually must be created until there's nobody left as an oppressor/provider.

    If progressives weren't morally bankrupt, they would fight laws that institutionalize and promote discrimination, rather than create such laws as a form of reparative or social "justice."

  • Tony||

    I realize that libertarians consider justice to be a commodity to be purchased just like everything else. Until the day comes when one is not provided special privileges over others merely because of one's being born male and white, then you may have a point.

  • Subsidize Me!||

    I realize that libertarians consider justice to be a commodity to be purchased just like everything else.

    No, Tony, you're around here enough to know very well that we respect Rule of Law above all else. What differentiates us from progressives (even, and especially the conservative ones) is that we recognize that a) rule of law isn't just whatever government decides it is and b) government often does shit on rule of law when expediency permits.

    Justice is achieved when rule of law is applied equally - not when a check arrives in the mail or when you get a job for reasons exclusive of your ability to work.

  • Tony||

    Conservative progressives? What is the Beckian crap? Jesus Christ I waste enough time on here already without this bullshit.

    Yes, you believe in the rule of law, but only with respect to laws you like. Laws you don't like are not legitimate because you don't like them. Got it.

  • Subsidize Me!||

    Beck? How about Hayek, you turd.

    ... the conservatives have tended to follow the socialist rather than the liberal direction and have adopted at appropriate intervals of time those ideas made respectable by radical propaganda. It has been regularly the conservatives who have compromised with socialism and stolen its thunder. Advocates of the Middle Way with no goal of their own, conservatives have been guided by the belief that the truth must lie somewhere between the extremes - with the result that they have shifted their position every time a more extreme movement appeared on either wing.

    They're looking to use government to Improve People's Lives™ and Change the World™ as much as you are - which makes them progressive, if not Progressive®.

    Have a fucking clue before you get snarky.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    Sadly, Tony's main source of knowledge is the TV... I have gathered this based on constantly observing him assume that whatever TV asshat du jour is the source of all ideas good & bad.

  • Tony||

    I just pay attention to what Beck is saying because his silly bullshit rhetoric seems to curiously show up in libertarian blogs shortly thereafter.

  • ||

    What's a Glenn Beck?
    American TV /= the world.

  • Subsidize Me!||

    Sean W. Malone|8.5.10 @ 6:35PM|#
    Sadly, Tony's main source of knowledge is the TV... I have gathered this based on constantly observing him assume that whatever TV asshat du jour is the source of all ideas good & bad.

    Give Tony his due. He owns the occasional tard, but gets regularly slammed here - and keeps coming back. He's just not up on his Donne (odd for a progressive do-gooder) and forgets that the same bell tolls for he and some conservatives (Bill Kristol, et al.) alike.

  • Coeus||

    Until the day comes when one is not provided special privileges over others merely because of one's being born male and white

    Ahh, privilege. The newest and largest figleaf of liberal hypocrites. While it may actually be valid in some limited cases, most of the time its proponents operate on the basis that conditions haven't changed in over 50 years.

  • Ted Kennedy||

    I *never* took advantage of special privileges! I was a man of the people!

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    Protected classes... like, say, politicians?

  • Doc Merlin||

    I think you have it backwards. Government represents the powerful and protects their interests against the slightly less powerful.

  • Sam Grove||

    Pretty theory, but we live in the real world.

    The state is very much a corporate monopoly staffed with human being that exhibit self interest coupled with extraordinary power.

  • IceTrey||

    "What then do we need the government for?'

    The proper function of government is to defend individual liberty.

  • Commerce Clause||

    *ahem*

  • ||

    Headline and thesis, private enterprise always does things better than government.

    Content of column, a bunch of examples of toll roads.

    Even assuming, for the sake of argument, that this is strong evidence of the superiority of private enterprise, it's only applicable to roads.

    Whether done by private industry or government, there are some things I would consider limited by real estate - roads, subways, even satellites tend to have equatorial orbits (though I think others are possible) - and for which government regulation makes sense and is necessary, even if the "work" is done by private enterprise. Though one then has to avoid the businesses to be regulated having too much control (and e.g. being bailed out of their mistakes...).

    There are also some things which on principle I feel should be done only by government - for instance, waging war or imprisoning people (I think there are some cases, private industry doing jail services = prisoner abused by guards can't successfully claim violation of Constitutional rights...).

  • The Skeptic||

    Privatized toll roads are a disatrously bad idea. See here:

    http://www.motorists.org/tolls/bad-idea

    If you think airline travel is bad, just wait till the roads are privitized.

  • mr simple||

    What a shitty article full of non sequiturs. All of the statements made in it have been refuted many times, here in this article and elsewhere, so I won't waste my time. And, are you seriously suggesting air travel should be publicly run or that it was better before it was deregulated? That is laughable. Ha.

  • mr simple||

    Did I mention how much I despise the private sector?

  • mr simple||

    WTF, are you talking about, troll? Where in any of my posts have I said anything negative about private sector or in praise of government? Now run along, your mother is calling you. You'll be late for school.

  • The Skeptic||

    I was only pointing out that airline travel can be made painfully miserable by private enterprises.

    Those same private enterprises would make driving on the roads equally or more miserable in an effort to monetize every aspect of it, far beyond our current taxation of motorists.

    The only "market force" that matters is the requirement to "add value" for shareholders. Customers are irrelevant.

    How heavy is that vehicle? New fee!
    How may people are in that car? New Fee!
    Are you transporting the family dog? New Fee!

  • ||

    "If you think airline travel is bad, just wait till the roads are privitized."

    Yah, because it was awesome paying $1500 in 1977 dollars to fly from Vancouver to Toronto. The fluffy pillows and free gin & tonics were totally worth it.

    And those interminable lineups at today's airports are because airlines begged the government to implement security measures that make passengers as miserable as possible. AWESOME fkn business plan.

  • MNG||

    What an impoverished mind that cannot think of values that might not be met by the admitted efficiency the profit motive produces...

  • The Facists||

    And you would like to impose your "values" on the rest of us right?

  • IceTrey||

    Are you talking objective values or subjective values?

  • Subsidize Me!||

    And are we talking about objectively meeting those values or subjectively meeting them?

  • ||

    are important and someone (else) should pay for them, but when their own money is on the line those values quickly become less important than maintaining the content of their savings account.

  • MNG||

    Gotta love that Stossel puts "responsibility" up there with freedom. I guess the private market will make responsibility happen by enforcing contracts and torts and such...

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: MNG,

    Gotta love that Stossel puts "responsibility" up there with freedom. I guess the private market will make responsibility happen by enforcing contracts and torts and such...

    I am sorry to hear that you're a slave to lousy private providers, MNG. When you grow a spine and actually make choices, and stop being a victim, then we here may welcome you to the land of the purposeful actors.

    Otherwise don't waste anybody's time by aleging that private suppliers are not beholden to people's choices. Dumbass.

  • Government of Wolves||

    +1

    Thank you.

  • Edwin||

    uhhh... I think he was talking about enforcement of contracts and rights. In which case, even most libertarians believe he's correct, unless you're an anrchist

  • Subsidize Me!||

    No, MNG just conflates "responsibility" with "accountability." It's a common mistake.

  • ||

    He did specficially mention tors and contracts.

    Absent the government, where would you turn? (no government would mean no court right?)

    Of course, I guess with no courts, there would be no cops, so I could figure out a way to get a contract enforced, lol.

  • Subsidize Me!||

    No, my point is that Stossel didn't mean tort and contract enforcement when he used "responsibility."

    Stossel means either that private industry uses its resources more responsibly than government in comparable endeavors or that eliminating traffic signals makes the driver responsible for his safety (Peltzman effect).

    MNG made a faulty assumption based on a common error. Courts find you responsible and hold you accountable, not the other way around.

  • Sam Grove||

    I want to raise an issue here which is the assumption that we can only have government by relinquishing absolute power to a hierarchy power structure.

    I suggest that this is an erroneous assumption.

  • milton fan||

    John, "waiting for superman" is opening in theaters. Based on who is producing it, I don't have high hopes.

    Can we get Fox to air "Free to Choose" Episode 6 and your education episode from this year back to back one night to combat the zeitgeist pollution I expect?

    For that matter, can we get any channel including PBS just to run Free To Choose again? We need it more than ever to get back into the zeitgeist. A 2010 replay with some updated commentary or something.

  • ||

    john:
    the only thing i can think that a government does better than private enterprise is the taxation and collection of revenues from people it governs.

    Lee $$

  • old rpm daddy||

    I'll bet you could privatize the IRS, or even a piece of it, and wind up saving big money in overhead costs. That would be a private firm conducting government business under contract, though, so it probably doesn't count.

  • iamtheeviltwin||

    I would also think that a privately run IRS would be more likely to collect the "full share" of taxes and be more zealous in pursuit of tax frauds and cheats

    ...of course I really don't want a more efficient tax collection agency...

  • ||

    What an impoverished mind that cannot think of values that might not be met by the admitted efficiency the profit motive produces...

    What an impoverished mind that cannot conceive of individuals acting freely to advance those values not met by the admitted efficiency the profit motive produces . . . .

  • ||

    Really no mention of the military?

    Private provision of the military would be both inefficient, and probably ineffective. Most people can afford to buy small arms, but how many can afford a tank? Would Bill Gates be expected to buy extra and let others borrow?

    Defense is pretty much the perfect example of a public good.

    In fact it could certainly be argued that the one if the chief reasons for government is people understood it was better to band together and pool resources for a public defense.

  • Edwin||

    +1

  • Subsidize Me!||

    I agree. I'm not looking to lend money to you to build tanks and B-2s, because first, you need to treat them as expendable assets (and I have nothing to repo if said assets are expended), and second, those machines have no value except to businesses in the same industry (if I do repo them).

  • Subsidize Me!||

    In essence, war can be defined as the total destruction of wealth. Because government is incomparably apt in this practice, it should be its responsibility.

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    Oddly enough, I can name a case in which the government got a loan to buy some very expensive military hardware.

    To wit: right at the end of WWII the reduction gears on the vessels that became the Iowa class battleships and the Midway class carriers (they were laid down on the same keels) were financed.

    I've no idea what insurance arrangements were made...

  • Subsidize Me!||

    That was back before we put wars on credit.

    Full faith and credit, that is.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    There has never been a time where wars weren't paid in credit in some form or another... Certainly not in America.

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    General government debt is one thing, going to a bank and saying "We need [lotsamoney] to buy some big gears which we've going to put in a warship and send into battle. But don't worry the gears are your security." is another.

  • ||

    Well just off the top of my head the Swiss Pikemen in 14th and 15th centuries come to mind. They were the most feared fighting force in Europe at the time. And most of that time was as mercenaries for other lords. They were only beaten when a similiar style of unit was created that used their tactics, with some new innovations, to oppose them. And being a volunteer private army allowed them to do unique things like elect their commanders. So if the commander wasn't effective they would elect a new one. Try that in a government run military.

    Also why do you assume a nation, that can spend 300+ billion a year currently on the military, would not be able to raise that money privately to finance it?

  • ||

    They can raise that money, and they choose to do so through taxes. That's exactly the point I'm making, government provided defense is the most efficient form (at the country level).

    The fact that 500 years ago, it was easier to have a private army for a country doesn't change the fact that now it really doesn't work.

    What about nukes? or Aircraft carriers, who would provide those.

    The simple fact is that for large investments like that, it makes sense for people to pool their resources.


    Government is not the answer for every problem, but that doesn't mean government is never the answer. There are limited situations, where it makes sense to go with a government solution. That's why people formed governments in the first place.

  • Anonymous||

    Nukes? Knives? Sharp sticks?

    With bake sales, of course.

  • ||

    Ah, the old "now it's different meme."

    In this case your right but in the wrong way. It would be even easier now. The amount people put toward those medieval mercenary units was an enormous part of what they owned. Weapons and armor cost several years pay for most. And if you didn't get paid you might very well starve. Our military expediture per person by contrast is tiny. No one's running around melting down church bells into howitzers when they need to go to war.

    There is no reason you can't choose to raise money through other ways other than involuntary taxation. Why would you assume people are not willing to give money to buy nukes? If people feel that they are vital to national defense they'll cough it up. You could easily organize any private military in a similiar fashion as any other non profit or even profit company. They could have a charter or some such to define what they can and can't do legally. If they perform poorly people would stop giving them money. If they were found guilty of breaching their charter they would be dissolved.

    The point being that you're dealing with an organization that has multiple feedback mechanisms vs. something (the government)that has only a few poor ones. Overtime the private organization is always going to end up more efficient because it has the greater capacity for change and learning from it's mistakes.

  • Tony||

    But we have plenty of experience with modern-day mercenaries right here in the US, such as the company formerly known as Blackwater. Guess what? They're more expensive and less accountable than the military.

  • ||

    First they are not more expensive. Their actually cheaper in the long run as they recieve no military benefits.

    Second they are accountable. After the incident in Iraq they were removed from the country. Do you think the US Military would do the same if asked? If you're speaking of their murky legal standing, that's a matter congress should have handled. It's not Blackwater's, or any other contractor's fault for that matter, that the government did not define their legal parameters adequately before hiring.

  • Soonerliberty||

    Plus, gov't is providing the market here: war.

  • ||

    "There is no reason you can't choose to raise money through other ways other than involuntary taxation. "

    No, you could do it other ways. I'm not aruging that. I'm saying the BEST way, in this case is through government.

    It's good not to have multiple private armies (warlords). It's bad enough that the government goes to war, do you want the Neo-con private army to feel free to wage?
    And it's good to have a full time army. It's also good that private citizens are restricted in the military stuff they can get.

  • ||

    You are conflating different problems. You continue to assume these guys have no legal restraints. That they can runoff to war whenever they feel like it. You would still have to vote to go to war. The difference would be that if the public soured on the war it would become harder and harder to fund it since the money has to be raised privately to continue the effort.

    Taking your Neo-con example, let's say they get the country to send their private army oversees to further their imperial ambitions, punch muslems, and what not. If and when it start's going south only the people finacing it are going to be on the hook to pay for it. As opposed to now when everyone has to pay for it regardless of their feelings toward the effort. The NeoCons would have to fund it all. And as their money dried up so would the operation. And without a success it's unlikely anyone would listen to them anymore or give them anymore money. All done with out you spending a dime.

  • ||

    You are assuming that the nation that was attacked by the private army wouldn't fight back.

    So Neo Cons attack nation A, nation A wins, and then Attacks us.

    Also why should a private army get permission to go to war? Who's going to stop them?

    Although the more likely problem is that we woudn't have enough defense, and so we would all be speaking German or Russian about now.

  • ||

    So Neo Cons attack nation A, nation A wins, and then Attacks us.

    Again, the country still has to vote to go to war. I imagine that scenario would be considered when deciding to let our NeoCon friends off their leash.

    Also why should a private army get permission to go to war? Who's going to stop them?

    Probably the same reasons that prevents our current military from doing that. Why don't they just overthrow the government whenever they feel like? What's going to stop them? How is the situation really any different?

    And why would we not have a good enough defense? Are you seriously saying most people wouldn't give a siginificant portion of their income to keep out a foriegn occupier if that's what it took? And if they didn't then I would say that would be pretty good indication of what they thought of their current government.

  • ||

    But why should we have a vote? Do private parties need a vote before they can use their private resources?

    You don't need a vote to use your swimming pool, or your car, why your private army?

    Votes are required for "public" things. Like defense.

  • ||

    You keep talking as if I'm talking about an anarchy. That there are no rules or laws that would govern a private army. Normal private companies are beholden to laws so any private army would as well. Why would there be an exception to them?

    We vote to determine the laws of a land so voting on the legal limits of an organization, public or private, is nothing new. It's just an extension of personal laws, like murder or theft, that apply to the individual.

    Just because you vote to establish limits on things doesn't make it automatically "public." By that definition everything would be public.

  • Tony||

    You have to have a state before you can have laws, and the definition of a state involves a monopoly on the legitimate use of force...

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    Your definition of "legitimate use of force" being much, much looser, of course...

  • Sam Grove||

    And it's good to have a full time army.

    Especially if you want to have an empire.

  • ||

    "It's good not to have multiple private armies (warlords)."

    Several hundred years of Spartan history begs to differ.

  • Chad||

    Pain, it is clear that you do not even understand the basics of economics. Did you stop at Chapter Two of your Econ 101 book, when it first showed some math?

    See the "free rider" problem and get back to us. You clearly don't even understand this much.

  • ||

    The books you write in your head don't count in the real world Chad. If you have a point, how about you elaborate on it and instead of acting like your usual idiot self.

  • Sam Grove||

    I'd rather not have a government army. I'd much prefer that we all gain the ability and means to defend against invaders.

    Armed might in the hands of politicians brings lots of trouble.

  • ||

    Hello John

    The government is a better provider of healthcare, in aggregate, than the private sector.

    Check out the UK. The National Health Service covers the entire population, who live as long as Americans, for half the cost.

    In fact the 9 per cent of GDP it costs is only slightly more than the 8 per cent the US spends on Medicare. (http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/f6ad0b18-8b59-11de-9f50-00144feabdc0.html)

    It isn't perfect, but it is better than the private alternative.

    You can send the $1000 to a charity that provides medical care for the uninsured.

    Thanks

    FD

    P.S. Some of your commentators have missed the point about armies. There is only one per country because the government must hold a monopoly on violence to exist. Taxation is the only way to fund this.

  • Tony||

    Stossel's got a lot of checks to cut.

  • ||

    2 idiots, even now the NHS is cutting back on services, and less and less people are being treated.
    Let's also take out of the equation the costs that need to be passed on to others due to forcing hospitals to treat anyone, the myriad regulations that add more to the costs, the multiple tests run to avoid malpractice, and a number of other factors which bring costs up, and then see whether public is better than private.

  • Chad||

    I agree. Stossel loses on medical care every which way to Sunday. No serious organization rates the US number one, despite our most-free-market status.

  • Yonemoto||

    Medical care 50 years ago was decidedly not run by the state, and far better than it is now, minus technological advancements. WTF happened?

  • Parah Salin||

    Insurance companies took over.

  • ||

    Note socialized medicine keeps costs down by rationing. Also pretty much all healthcare research is funded by the profits made possible by American spending.

    Your welcome.

  • Soonerliberty||

    Category error. The US system is not private. It is already 40-50% gov't. It is highly regulated, does not allow competition between states, the AMA has a monopoly. So, how you can in any way claim this is the private alternative is beyond me. Price fixing is not cheaper. It merely hides the costs and subsidizes them through inflation and taxation. It also does not take into account the deaths caused by goods that don't make it to market.

  • DesigNate||

    The UK is also 1/5 the population of the United States, nevermind what Krone and Sooner pointed out. Basic math shows that if we are 5x bigger and their health costs are 9% GDP you get 45% of our GDP should go to healthcare. Right?

  • ||

    No, the GDP% is in poportion to the population.

  • Tony||

    The US's GDP is also 7 times larger than the UK's, so no. But if you want to keep increasing healthcare's share of GDP then leave it to the private sector.

  • Sam Grove||

    There is only one per country because the government must hold a monopoly on violence to exist. Taxation is the only way to fund this.

    The problem here is that you assume this is a good thing.

    I know that's what government employees in government controlled indoctrination centers have spend billions of dollars teaching ut.

  • whimsical||

    The government made the internet, specifically Al Gore.

    Given how important the internet is to the economy, that's a huge omission.

    All propriety network structures such as AOL and CompuServe lost to the government's IP.

    Not having a particular business model (need for profit) allowed the internet to take the direction that it did, where anyone can connect to the internet just by connecting to anyone else already connected to the internet.

    Please donate the $1000 to charity.

  • Soonerliberty||

    Gov't never would've developed it to the level it is today. It would be counterproductive and against its interests to do so. We know this because it is scrambling like hell to bring it under control.

  • Tony||

    With the Internet, just as in real life, government provides the infrastructure on which the marketplace depends. It sets the physical and legal conditions that, in part, define the environment in which trade operates.

  • Soonerliberty||

    What physical and legal conditions does the gov't set for the worldwide net? I'm interested to know. How does the worldwide net organize itself without leadership from above?

  • Tony||

    Government invented and in large part maintains the Internet. (ICANN was originally mandated by the US government, and now operates as a nonprofit corporation--but it's still a central governing body.) The marketplace that exists on the Internet is comparatively free, but it wouldn't exist at all without government. I'm saying it's analogous to the real world in that a robust market wouldn't exist without things like roads (and the military and arguably a lot of other things like public schools).

  • Soonerliberty||

    Roads existed before gov't, as they were just paths well traveled. Saying there would be no roads without gov't is absurd. It's like saying there is no demand for roads. So, now we like the military industrial complex? Do you believe the internet and that computer in front of you never could've existed without gov't? Just because gov't invented it doesn't mean it wouldn't have existed otherwise, especially when there is a commercial interest. How far do we take this back? Electricity was invented in the private markets. Without that, you couldn't have the internet. Are you saying we have fire b/c of gov't?

  • Soonerliberty||

    Besides, no one person can invent anything. They have to use parts from the private market.

  • Tony||

    And maybe a private enterprise would have gotten us to the moon, someday, assuming it was profitable. So clearly the government can do things more efficiently or at least more quickly than free enterprise. That's a different question to whether it should, of course.

    I look to the market for the next iphone. I don't look to it to provide justice or universal education or an efficient infrastructure or armed national defense. It's definitely a partnership, but the market shouldn't take more credit than is due.

  • Tony||

    Though we're on the verge of having the Internet carved up by telecom corporations so that it will soon be unrecognizable as the free exchange of websites we've come to love. Guess it would take a net neutrality law from the government to prevent that.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    Tony, would you rather have the government be the sole internet provider?

    Wait, you really don't have to answer that. We know how this turns out.

  • ||

    I'm glad we went to the Moon, but I have a feeling that the advantage of the admittedly slower private sector approach is that we will have a permanent presence once a private actor decides to go there.

  • whimsical||

    "Just because gov't invented it doesn't mean it wouldn't have existed otherwise, especially when there is a commercial interest."

    With the internet that's not the case. It truly developed because it didn't have a lot of money compared to a private business (just some grants from the NSF), and it didn't have to make money. This beat out all the private company's ideas. Not having a lot of money means they had to make it flexible to work on whatever machines existed, and not having to make money allows easy connection to the internet as they don't have to worry about installing extra infrastructure to calculate what they will charge customers unlike a telephone line.

    Of course the internet is important to the economy only because of the companies and individuals connected to it, and not the infrastructure itself. But you have to first build the field, and then people will come.

  • Sam Grove||

    What infrastructure is the government providing for the internet?

    I thought server farms, communication channels, etc. were privately created.

    In any case, "government" did not create the internet, nor did it ever set out to do so. It began with some science nerds looking for a way to enable their computers to communicate.

    And how did computers come about?

    Private sector.

    Phone lines?

    Private sector.

  • styx||

    "In any case, "government" did not create the internet, nor did it ever set out to do so. It began with some science nerds looking for a way to enable their computers to communicate."

    Of course science nerds created the internet. They were hired by the government to do so. Similarly science nerds created the atom bomb.

    Science is science no matter who you work for.

  • ||

    "Not having a particular business model (need for profit) allowed the internet to take the direction that it did, where anyone can connect to the internet just by connecting to anyone else already connected to the internet."

    Are you suggesting the internet - or something like it (even better? !) - would not have arisen through private effort?

    Can anybody remind me what grade it gets hammered into little brains that profit = evil? Once we have an answer, let's eliminate that grade and just let the little ones skip ahead a year.

  • ||

    If the private sector works so well why have middle class wages stagnated?

  • ||

    A joke right?

    First, the issue is not wages, but efficiency, so your question is off topic.

    Second, if the government was doing it's damnedest to ruin the private sector wages probably wouldn't stagnate.

  • ||

    eah, I see both sides here. However, if we take away regulation completely we also run the risk of total corporate anarchy. Example: No regulation means that there would be no liability of a worker is killed at work for corporate willful OSHA violations. No consequences=No safety enforcement. Remember the 1920's, child labor law, etc? Sorry John, I agree w/the Democrats on this one!

  • Galt1138||

    You've never heard of lawsuits, I take it. Beyond that, there ARE consequences. Setting aside the tragedy to the worker's loved ones, a company now has lost an employee, which affects productivity.

    Yes, they can hire a new one. However, if they keep having accidents which harm their workforce, not only does the productivity go down, the company may find it hard to attract workers.

  • Tony||

    I don't understand this argument. Lawsuits require the vast government outfit known as the judicial system, so rather than just having a rule in place meant to prevent such tragedies in the first place, you want to create even bigger government in order to achieve these ends in the least efficient way. Go free market?

  • ||

    Please cite a law or regulation that anticipated an actual problem and clearly prevented it from happening. Laws, like lawsuits, are in response to problems. The idea is to prevent those things from happening again. Of course, and what often goes unnoticed, the private actor's involved in the incident take preventive actions as well. Usually in a more targeted and efficient manner than the government.

  • Edwin||

    there are plenty of what I would call "good" regulations. Not the sorts of things that really are just attempting social engineering, but the sorts of things that engineers would/do write.

    There's a regulation that all food processing equipment be lubricated only with mineral oil, no other type of petro based oil, because mineral oil is the most edible/least toxic (this is baby oil I'm talking about). I would assume vegetable oil is also an option, though it isn't very feasible as a machine oil. The idea is that if any of the oil accidentally gets in the food, no one gets sick. Surely, that rule, by itself isn't so bad?

    And I've read plenty of OSHA checklists for worker safety. They're actually pretty useful - ya make sure you haven't missed anything on the job.

    not saying all regulation is good, but it's not all terrible. But one of the most important things is that it at least creates a standard for the courts to use. Again, like I said in a comment above, neither jurors nor judges have to be engineers.

  • Soonerliberty||

    See Anglo-Saxon law in which both the courts and police were private until very modern history. Your assumptions are all wrong, and your history even more so.

  • Chad||

    Yes, and being "private", it pretty much meant "for the rich only"

    Private law is just a way for the rich to more fully exploit the weak.

  • Soonerliberty||

    Government is a way for the rich to fully exploit the weak. See social democracies, the US corporatist model, or any other model of government that has ever existed for a reference guide. Private law was provided for all to use and private police was provided for all, since citizens pooled their money to pay for it. There were also volunteers. Yes, people to give charity if the gov't doesn't force it. In fact, Americans give more charity than any other country by far.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    And Chad finally chimes in with his usual "rich people suck" rhetoric...

  • Sam Grove||

    Christ, they keep arguing against the straw man of NO government.

  • ||

    Huh. You want one thing the government has tended to run better than private enterprise?

    The Military.

    DM

  • Brian Trust||

    I have to wonder what commander of a private military force would pay $50,000 for a hammer.

  • ||

    Besides the fact that the military doens't pay 50k for a hammer. The question isn't whether the government is the cheapest solution, it's whether it's the best solution.

    In the case of national defense, it's the best solution.

    See up thread for more detail.

  • ||

    Each House shall keep a Journal of its Proceedings, and from time to time publish the same, excepting such Parts as may in their Judgment require Secrecy

    Putting funding for intelligence and the like out for everybody to see makes secrecy a bit difficult. The only way to keep certain vital information secret such as money being used for intelligence agencies is to place the costs somewhere else. This means hammers and toilets may "cost" 500 dollars.

  • aztech||

    Replenishing worn paper currency with fresh ones, and security from counterfeiters. People are left robbing banks instead of printing money.

    Please donate the money to foster care.

  • Brian Trust||

    Another case of a government monopoly. Let each state print it's own currency in a manner its residents decide and get back to me in 20 years.

  • aztech||

    I'm glad you brought up that point: the government monopoly is better than anything Parker Brothers has put out.

    Proof that the public sector does something better than the private sector.

    $1000, foster care, Stossel.

  • Brian Trust||

    You do know that the government keeps printing $1 bills with an average life expectancy of 8 months, and keeps making pennies and nickels that cost more than their face value to produce, right?

    That's not efficient.

  • Brian Trust||

    Mr. Stossel's money is still safe.

  • aztech||

    because the government makes sure that it doesn't get tattered!

  • aztech||

    Most bills in my wallet are pretty crisp. Even the bad ones get accepted by the vending machine after a few tries.

    They do a good job of keeping dollars crisp. Even if the life expectancy of a dollar were 16 months, someone still needs to replenish tattered dollars for crisp dollars after 16 months, and the government has shown it can replace things in 8 months!

  • Brian Trust||

    Your anecdotal evidence is compelling. No wait, the other word... irrelevant.

    You clearly have little experience in the area. I do.

    The government is appallingly slow to get new money where it is really needed, and slow to remove damaged, defaced, or otherwise unfit currency from circulation. They are content to let it collect dust in the vaults of various armored car companies and banks (and I have personally seen this in multiple facilities in multiple regions of the country, not just in my wallet), or to let people use money until it's so destroyed that it can be legally refused as currency, in essence stealing wealth from whoever the last poor sap was to have it in his possession.

    And again, they continue to churn out special pennies at an ever increasing operating loss. Nickels, too.

  • aztech||

    Well you clearly know more about what sits in armored car and bank vaults than I do. So assuming that my experience disagrees with everyone else's experience, do libertarians propose privatizing money? How would that work...some private company buys lots of gold, oil, ..., a basket of commodities, and issues money equal to the amount of commodities it has?

    Would private businesses really be better at regulating money than the government?

    The closest thing I can think of is credit cards, and most people are in some serious credit card debt.

  • merril||

    I would trust a private business more with my money than the government. If a private business cheats and prints their currency and gives it to themselves, then consumers can go to an alternate private currency company, and they'll go out of business.

  • ||

    The problem is there needs to be some kind of standard. Dollars are good because they are accepted everywhere. I can take them anywhere in the US, and really anywhere any the world pretty much, and they are accepted.

    Would dollars from the reserve of Witchita Kansas be so good? I doubt it.

    Also, how would you know if a private business was cheating?

    It seems like the whole thing is just trying to make things more complicated that they need to be.

    I'm not sure why it's hard to understand that there are certain functions that government can beform better than the private sector, even if the only reason is because we only need one of them, and it should be done by monpoply.

  • aztech||

    Don't you libertarians say that the Federal Reserve engages in thievery? Bernanke claims to manipulate the money supply to temper the ups and downs of the economy, and if he is pocketing the money himself, he's the government, so he's not accountable: private companies are accountable.

    If you are hesitant about this, then does this mean you don't trust private companies more than government thieves?

    You say that dollars are good because they can be used everywhere in the U.S. There's already a law that says dollars can be used everywhere in the U.S. and it's a really bad one: the Civil Rights Act. And if a business wants to refuse currency, then some other business will accept them, and eventually that other business will go out of business.

  • Sam Grove||

    Each state?

    How about letting banks create money?

  • merril||

    Indeed, government is government, whether at the state level or federal level. Banks should be able to create money, and customers should be able to choose their banks.

  • Brian Trust||

    I presume we are talking about Chase Bank making Chasebucks and Citi Banks making Citibucks? My concern then becomes that if there are too many sources of currency that are independent of one another, exchange rates may get cumbersome. Certainly there should be more than one source of currency, but I would need convincing that any bank should be allowed to print currency.

    If we continue in that direction, why should only banks be able to print money? If I run a Best Buy, why shouldn't I be able to give my customers who pay cash change in BestBuyBucks?

  • Brian Trust||

    Furthermore, should I be forced to accept Citibucks as a form of payment in my hypothetical Best Buy?

  • Soonerliberty||

    Yes, anyone could make currency. Of course, that doesn't mean that anyone would accept it. Gold would be a much preferable currency as it was in the past. No one can force you to use any certain currency. You could choose, which is why the market tends towards one form of currency, such as gold.

  • Sam Grove||

    Exactly, left in the market, ways will be found to reduce the problems of multiple currencies by agreeing to a standard, the way that cassette tapes, CDs, DVDs, etc. have been standardized for common use.

  • ||

    "Replenishing worn paper currency with fresh ones, and security from counterfeiters."

    Replacing worthless, colorful paper with newer, worthless, colorful paper?

    H3ll, I could do that.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Uh-oh, it looks like John is stuck in traffic. The show's gonna be a late start.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    Wha? Where am I? I must have traveled back in time into a by-gone live blog. Oh well, I guess I'll make the best of it.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    It's not a good idea to yell "YOU PEOPLE" out of your car window in New York Mr. Stachsell. It's always racist.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    Government steals money and gets away with it better than private co.s. Gimme my thousand bucks stachey!

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Those Europeans just bulldoze mangled vehicles out of the tunnel and then let paramedics sort through that for its customers.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Maybe that private toll road company should run for governor of Indiana.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    They could install an electronic governer of Indiana.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I hope you planted your racket in his head, John.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Randal is from the past (Civil War era, I would say), so of course he's going to not understand traffic is as bad as it is.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    From the look of that picture, the Golden Age of Air Travel meant you could look up the stewardess's skirt and not get sued. Today you try that with the "flight attendant" and he'll probably slug you.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    NO! Trains are a hotbed of murder mystery action. Total hassle.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Politicians are railing about rail.

    (You can use that for a blog post, Reason.)

  • Fiscal Meth||

    Politicians are snorting fat rails off the asses of rent-boys.

    (Same offer Reason)

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Well, sure, if you're gonna offer ghostwriting headlines solely for Cavanaugh posts.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    This isn't Europe or Asia, Art. Unless I can drive my car on the tracks, I don't care about your highspeed rail.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Illegal! Stossel just destroyed a dollar bill. The country's money supply just dropped by 23 cents.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Art's for the Union and Randal is for the Confederacy. It's almost as those Stossel wants me to go for Art's POV.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    Robert E Lee looks like he's about to get pissed off.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Glenn Beck is releasing starlings into the studio? Is it sweeps week?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Hello blackbird, hello starling, winter's over, be my darling.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    That's it. Tomorrow I'm ignoring all traffic lights to test this theory.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    Better ignore siren lights too.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    Watch out Mr Magoo!

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    "Shoals" of fish? Learn to speak American, Eurotrash!

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I suspect Ben's traffic plans center around roundabouts. Many, many roundabouts.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    "No, I would say my global traffic theory doesn't apply to Oklahoma."

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    What, no questions about submarines or jetpacks? Way to make the discussion impossibly narrow, John.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Ouch, a shot at Amtrak.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I think Art tuned out when Randal just pwned him there.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    He was just showing us the Zone-out face that they use every time someone reports a safety hazard.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    "We won't solve this tonight."

    Don't put off 'til tomorrow, John.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Glenn Beck on the way? I just knew there was an Obama czar behind my tortuous commute to work in the morning.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    But, coincidentally, Glenn found that he was a libertarian around mid-January, 2009.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    He's a libertarian on some shows and not so much on others.

    He's an AD-LIB-ertarian!

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I WILL NOT SIT HERE AND LET YOU DISRESPECT THE TROOPS, STOSSEL!

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Does Beck's Gates advocacy make Stossel the Mac guy?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Just as I suspected, Stossel lives in a castle.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    (That's what I got out of that.)

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Beck got the bum's rush.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    The private sector doesn't hold a candle to the government's ability to debate something forever.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    Stossel owes you a thousand dollars.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Jazz hands.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    FoxBiz's aquarium screensaver just kicked off.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Yeah, AA, creep like a fox.

    Seacrest, OUT!

  • Tony||

    Fist are you a paid conversation stopper for reason or just an alcoholic?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Live blogging, baby. It's where the big money is.

  • Subsidize Me!||

    Did beck get some stossel hate?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Not really. In fact, Beck rocked Stossel's world with the suggestion of private armies.

  • DesigNate||

    Damn FoF you are a machine!

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    A machine? If that comment is for me, then I will deny that I'm anonbot with every fiber of my algorithm, dude. LOL

  • Barack Obama||

    Education is not monopolized by the state, at least not in the US... yet.

  • Barack Obama||

    By the way, thanks for the quote, Tony. Your check is in the mail.

  • Ben||

    John,

    I take up your challenge to name something gov does better than the private sector: Coercion. Make my cheque payable to the Adam Smith institute.

  • Sam Grove||

    It sure is hard to argue this with the unimaginative advocates of the state.

  • Chad||

    In Myths, Lies and Downright Stupidity, I bet my readers $1,000 that they couldn't name one thing that government does better than the private sector

    Then you are blind to evidence. Health care is an easy one, as no serious ranking puts the US health care system anywhere near the top, even though we have the most "free market" system in the industrialized world by a wide margin.

    My guess is that every time some points out how a more "free market" system produces a worse outcome or higher costs (or both) than a more government-controlled or regulated system, you just claim that since the former was not 100% pure, it doesn't count as a "free market" system. Of course, their will never ever ever be any 100% pure market system of any substance, hence making your bet unwinnable.

    Just for some fun, I'll list a few more things that the government does better than the private sector. Note by "better", I mean for the population in general, not a handful of rich people

    Police / law enforcement
    Military
    International diplomacy
    Emergency response
    Fire protection
    Roads
    Courts
    Social insurance
    Retirement (yes, SS beats the "market" for normal investors, see below)

    http://www.slaughter401k.com/w.....he-market/

    Hmmm, my list is suspiciously starting to look like, ummm, most governments.

    I'll be waiting for my check, John.

  • fart monkey||

    If you weren't a retard you would know that limited government does not equal no government.
    That means that some responsibilities do belong to government, and they include international diplomacy, military, courts and law enforcement.
    If you had actually read the entire piece you would have seen that he gave several examples where private enterprise does a better job than government with the roads.
    If your IQ was greater than room temperature you would know that government retirement plans are merely Ponzi schemes that are scheduled to bust by the time the boomers' kids hit retirement age.

    But alas you are a retard with a room temperature IQ who did not read the entire piece, so you do not know these things.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    Chad is a whore for Big Government.

  • Chad||

    No, he didn't cite any example of a private company doing a better job with a road. He only cited the fact that a company adopted new technology at some point after having taken control of a road. Did he supply any evidence that the government would not have done the same thing?

    And in any case, toll roads charge $.04-05 PER MILE, while the feds cover 75% of the interstate highway spending with a gas tax that amounts to less than $.01 per mile. You do the math.

    In any case, toll-based expressways are not a "free market", as they are only profitable because of all the money-losing feeder roads that supply them customers. Saying that private enterprise can do something if the government is kind enough to run all the money-losing parts isn't much of a compliment to the private sector.

  • fart monkey||

    At my work I am watching what happens when government takes control over something.
    My job is software developer for a government contractor. It used to be that as problems were discovered we would fix them. We didn't care who made the mistake, the number one concern was to put out the best product.
    As users put in requests we would evaluate them, and just do the little things. Why debate it if it will only take an hour to do? Let management worry about the big things.

    That was then. Before government took over micromanaging the product.
    Now every single decision must go through a "process". Every error and enhancement, big or small, must go through several layers of bureaucracy before a decision is made. Decisions are made based not upon what needs to be done, but on who has the most pull. None of the government people want to be responsible for anything, so they pass the buck to their supervisor. It's to a point where some jerk in D.C. decides whether or not I am allowed to fix errors that cause the program to crash, even if it would only take five minutes of my time.

    Nothing is getting done. Zippo. But we're still getting paid.

    I've seen firsthand what happens when free enterprise manages a product and when government manages the same product.

    It turns to shit.

  • fart monkey||

    Did he supply any evidence that the government would not have done the same thing?

    That's the point.
    Government does what it is allowed to do. Anything that it does must be backed up by some law or regulation that authorizes the action. There is no free thinking allowed.

    Free enterprise is not constrained. They can do anything they damn well please as long as there is no law or regulation that prohibits it. Free thinking is encouraged. Heck, if you lack imagination you'll probably end up losing your job and going to work for government.

    The only way government would have done the same thing would be if a lawmaker or regulator put it into writing, and even then it would take ten times as long and cost a hundred times as much.

    I see it every day.

  • Chad||

    The only reasons that the government would not have adopted any of the changes cited after the private company took over management of the toll road were

    A: The technology was newly available

    B: The government did not provide its engineers with the financial resources to implement the changes.

    The latter is more likely....and the fault of idiot fart monkey conservatives.

    Btw, I am personal friends with the person who decides which bridges get fixed in my home state. It's all about funding. There are X dollars available, and she fixes the most important problems with those X dollars. A private company would look at the ROI on each fix, compare it to its cost of borrowing, and fix any bridge that was profitable.

    Now, if LIBERALS were in charge, there would be little difference between the two, as we would supply dollars to our bridge building engineers until the ROI dropped below our cost of capital (which is damned near zero, btw). If idiot fart monkey cons were in charge, however, they would be busy trying to starving the beast, and shorting the engineers huge sums of money, leaving profitable bridge fixes undone.

    What morons.

  • fart monkey||

    If fart monkeys were in charge then the incredibly wasteful and inefficient liberals like you and your government engineer friends would be thrown off the bridges and the frugal and efficient private sector would have those bridges fixed in half the time at a quarter of the cost, for a fee to the users of course.

  • Jen||

    Healthcare better, LOL! Who made your "serious rankings"? What were their motives for painting single-payer systems in a better light? Why do you suppose people still throw around the infant mortality rate myth, even though it's been shown repeatedly that it's a lie? Why does the fact that the U.S.'s cancer survival rate is better than any other country's in the world not factor into your "serious rankings"? Also, what makes you think the United States' healthcare system is "private"?

    Your post has more fail in it than can be measured.

  • Brian Trust||

    Since all of those other (supposedly better) healthcare systems are able to benefit from the expensive medical R&D that takes place in America without having to pay any of the cost required to conduct said R&D, I wonder how valid such comparisons can be.

    If each country had to rely solely on the medical technologies and drugs that were developed only within their borders, do you believe the results of your 'serious rankings' would be the same?

  • Chad||

    Thanks to the NSF! Thanks for reminding me that I should have included "basic research" among the items that government does better than the private sector.

  • Chad||

    By "serious", I mean "anything not from a right-wing think tank".

  • Jen||

    By "serious," you mean "in the dark recesses of my imagination." You truly are clueless.

  • Chad||

    Maybe I should make the reverse of Stossels bet, and challenge you guys to prove that the private market does something of substance better than the government. If, however, there is any government involvement in any form, it it is disqualified.

    You take a shit in the morning, and claim that you can do it better than the government? No dice. Your shitting experience was enhanced by our wonderful regulations concerning toilets. See, you guys can't even go potty without the nanny state there to wipe your asses.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    See, you guys can't even go potty without the nanny state there to wipe your asses.

    I think that has more to do with the nanny state's wishes than with libertarians'.

  • Drax the Destroyer||

    The regulations in my area lead to small toilets with a modicum of water pressure. 4 flushes this morning. 4 fucking flushes (Average is 2.75 which leads to more water being wasted per flush than before fuckface). AND I"M ON A DIET. Tell me how that is "envrionmentally friendly" or better then the less regulated toilets from 15 years ago? This is what government has wrought. It took something that worked already and made it worse. Who cares if the government regulated the better toilets in the first place. The point is, THEY MADE IT FUCKING WORSE ASSHOLE.

  • Yonemoto||

    Straw man.

    "If, however, there is any government involvement in any form, it it is disqualified."

    Pick a free enterprise. Where does the money come from? The federal reserve. Therefore, there is government involvement. Therefore Chad does not have to pay.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    Only a statist would conjure a sentence like "Your shitting experience was enhanced by our wonderful regulations concerning toilets", THEN praise the nanny state without one trace of irony.

    Praise, yes. Irony, not so much.

  • Chad||

    You are right, Yonemoto. I am mocking Stossel's straw man by setting up the reverse one.

  • lyman||

    Go write a book, and say that you offered $1 million to anyone who could refute your earth-shattering ideas, and no one collected. Better yet, offer $1 million to anyone who can refute just a single part of your book, so that people will buy your book to try to win $1 million! It's a blurb to put on your book cover so you can market your ideas. It's sleazy, sleazier than some of the worst forms of advertising.

    I hope Stossel actually sends some payments out: he's better than that.

  • ||

    "See, you guys can't even go potty without the nanny state there to wipe your asses."

    You're projecting again.

  • marsandares||

    It seems that government has no rival in the realm of war. I did not read Stossel's book but it seems to me that atomic weapons came in large part from the government sector. And here is the irony; the progressives actually use the martial model in their means to achieve perceived peaceful ends. “Ah, now we see the violence inherent in the system...help, help, I'm being repressed.” “Bloody peasant.”

  • ||

    Let's imagine a few cases where the government could do something better than the private sector. We would still be forced to argue the private sector should handle them.

    Freedom of choice and free markets are first and foremost a moral issue. There is no actualization without choice. There is no creativity without choice. There is no evolution without creativity or emergence. There is no evolution without competition. End of argument.

  • Tony||

    Except we're not allowed to evolve a government...

  • T. J. Birkenmeier||

    Happy Birthday Pancho and Cisco! Here's $500 million for GM auto plant expansion in MEXICO!!! Meanwhile a $1.5 Billion Chrysler plant in the middle of the USA is bulldozed and American family UAW jobs are LOST. Obama's brilliance GOBSMACKS ...me!!
    OBAMA Mexicare program is Brilliant!
    Let's seal the border with Obama on the Mexican-side where his heart and our tax dollars are.

  • ||

    Again and Again, you Anarchists in Libertarian cloaks focus on your "freedom" and ignore the "responsibility". You are worse than Liberals who believe that everyone is smart, hard working and motivated by more than just money. Yes, you Libertarians believe that everyone is smart, hardworking and motivated by morals. Haha, big surprise! When left to their own devices, we are painfully reminded time and time again that far too many people have little or no concept of right and wrong, morality or extremity. This is the fallacy you embrace my Libertarian friends.

  • ||

    All I see are demands for more Freedom and no cries for Responsibility. The Libertarian Fallacy is that left to their own devices, people will behave responsibly. HAHAHA. Since the stone age we know this isnt true. Thats why we have customs, rules and laws.

    The traffic light analogy is farcical. The ultimate Libertarian social interchange is the traffic circle. Have you ever tried to negotiate your way through one? What a mess. Only 3rd world countries still have them. Ask yourself why!

  • DC Resident||

    Hey!

  • ||

    Booo!

    /scary, responsibilityy-averse libertarian guy

  • ATLien||

    you fail, dumbass. traffic circles are everywhere in Europe and even traffic designers here believe they're better. It's just that our drivers really are stupider.

  • Jeff Carter||

    John, agree with you. One thing governments do better than private industry is the military.

    Can I have my $1000 now?

  • gnut||

    > Because if private companies don't do things efficiently,they lose money and die.
    > Unlike government, they cannot compel payment through the power to tax.

    You've obviously never heard of homeowners associations, which are corporations that have the power to tax and fine their mandatory members.

    HOAs, by the way, have some of the most parasitic tort lawyers in existence; the kind that you are willing to overlook.

  • Scarpe Nike||

    is good

  • Scarpe Nike||

    is good

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement