From Patrice Ayme on www.Learningfromdogs.com:
Agreed about too much taxes without adult supervision…
Now something related to think about. Why not make American freeways private? The US government could sell the Interstate system, making lots of profits (are not profits the best thing?), then the private owners would make even more profits. No more taxes to pay for the roads, etc… One could extend that to the army. Make the army completely private, headed by the operators of the ex-Blackwater, I mean “Xe”. Army guys would be encouraged to make profits, as their predecessors in France around 1200 CE (interestingly called “Les Grandes Compagnies” = The Great Companies”).
And so on.
In France, freeways are actually private, and toll. But of course they were built and paid for by private capital (protected by law recognizing them as of “public utility”). It works well, nobody is complaining: superior surfacing, no holes, no debris, and advanced freeway architecture, differently from American freeways.
The high speed train network is according to similar lines.
Superior economic organization is all within that concept of PUBLIC UTILITY.
Profit is not the superior economic organizing principle. Public utility is.
Pirates made profits, so did Roman governors and Persian Satraps, or Carthage.
The USA can learn a lot from its sister republic, France. Another example is waterworks. Starting around 1850, private water companies grew in France. They soon became extremely profitable, and several private French water companies are now the largest water companies in the world.
This worldwide success did not escape the attention of typically suspicious French citizens. Some city engineers noticed that they could do the same cheaper. So, paradoxically, a rebellion against the French water giants has started in France, and some city governments are now running, cheaper and better their own waterworks, after wrestling back control from the private water giants.
It is not whether it is private for profit or government for public which matters. what matters is the maximization of public utility. At least in a democracy. In a banana republic, it’s different, true.
Patrice: Just to clarify before I comment, by “public utility” you mean the benefit of the whole of the public? And your focus is on what is being delivered or consumed and how much good that does for the citizen?
I assume your point is the superiority of government supplied goods and services — specifically as it is done in France — over the profit motive of private companies. Again, you miss the point that the government would have no resources to spend without private industry. All the government does is to shift profits around in the economy. Now some of that shifting, like from private profits to public goods (and by public good I mean one where the consumption of the good by one individual does not reduce availability of the good for consumption by others; and that no one can be effectively excluded from using the good, like clean air, national defense or, effectively, a national interstate roadway system), is necessary and desirable. We, as a country, defined the need for public goods in our Constitution, but we have strayed very far away from that ideal over time, to our detriment.