Nothing Like A Little Competition
Published on: October 25, 2011
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  • Kenny

    Re: Union resistance.

    The answer is not to compromizse with the public-sector unions but to soundly defeat them. And it is possible. The unions are on the ropes; it’s time to put them away.

  • Matthew Brotchie

    Liberalism 5.0..Sounds good to me. Professor Mead, what are thoughts on the possibility of the formation of a third party that focused on these solutions? I’ve heard Francis Fukuyama lament several times on the current political culture of polarization and its paralyzing effects. Would a third party help us in this or just create more gridlock?

    I am a long time reader, first commenter, so I want to sincerely thank you for this blog. I have learned so much from you the past year and a half, I feel In now have better have grasp on our world. I’m in my twenties and I try spread your blog around to as many of my peers as I can, as I see how there exposure to only the mainstream media and Noam Chomsky youtube videos are leaving so many of them with a view of the world that leaves them apathetic or believing in conspiracys. This mixed with the easy-going nihilism Allan Bloom talked about in Closing of the American Mind may one day I fear turn into something formidable. Thank you again.
    http://www.archive.org/details/AllanBloomResponseToFukuyamasendOfHistoryAndTheLastMan

  • Mark Michael

    For a longer goal, many more city functions would be better performed by the private sector rather than by government using government employees directly.

    Certain core functions should be retained in government, such as policing, enforcing of city codes and regulations, the justice system (judges, jails, courts). Many of the remaining functions should seriously be considered for some form of privatization as a long-range goal.

    There are 5 reasonable models for providing goods and services: (1) fully competitive private, profit-making companies, (2) regulated profit-making monopolies, (3) non-profit organizations (e.g., private schools, charities & NGOs), (4) government using government employees, (5) government management with contracting day-to-day work out to private industry, usually in a competitive fashion for a limited time period.

    Functions like water distribution, sewer systems, subways, light rail, road maintenance, park management are candidates for (2) private, profit-making, regulated monopolies, since they are (sort of) natural monopolies, or (5) government management with the work contracted out to private industry.

    Some functions could be transitioned to (1) private, competitive industry that the citizens purchase directly themselves. These could include trash pickup, ambulance service (911 calls of some kinds), even firefighting, and eventually K-12 education.

    The transition methods are critical. People need time to adjust. The idea that WRM discusses of having government employees compete with private industries for “contracts” is an excellent transition method (pioneered by Stephen Goldsmith in Indianapolis).

    Charter schools and vouchers to attend private schools is a way to transition back to an all-private K-12 education system where parents pay tuition for their own children. Means-tested vouchers can be used to ensure that the poor get educated in such a system.

    A danger of leaving a robust government function alongside of a private equivalent is that the government agency is likely to work hard to tilt the playing field in its own favor. In fact, they will nearly always win out over time. Hence, every function that can be done with private sector employees and companies should be done that way.

  • Toni

    Prof. Mead, I respectfully ask you to justify your criticism of Republican governors on this topic.

    I repeat — VOTERS put those governors in office to, among other things, curb the power of public employee unions. I don’t know where you think there occurred “month long occupations of state capitol buildings.” As I recall, while the unions staged massive disruptive protests, Wisconsin Democrats fled to Illinois for a month or so to try to prevent legislation being passed. They all failed.

    Should Gov. Scott Walker never have tried to do what he’d told voters he would? It’s up to Wisconsin voters, not commentators or analysts, to decide. So far, they approve. His ratings are rising; a plurality, 43%, now approve of his performance.

    Not so for Ohio Gov. John Kasich, but again, he doesn’t answer to you or anybody but Ohioans. Reagan’s approval ratings were under water 1982-83 until the recession began to ease. Voters have till Nov. 2014 to decide whether they like what Gov. Kasich has done.

    Your vague assertion about the GOP governors and their approach is, “Over the long haul of American politics, it seldom pays to demonize a significant sector of the voting public.” If Walker, Kasich, or any other Republican is “demonizing” unions, you should provide examples. If you have none, you should stop slandering Republicans and, by extension, the voters who elected them — as if the party which is not your natural home attracts only aggressive, name-calling pols and wicked or deluded voters.

    Really, Prof. Mead, I have the utmost respect for you. Except when your knee-jerk decision is that Republicans and those who vote for them are doing the wrong thing. Another example is when you quoted an FT columnist’s assertion that Congressional Republicans want Obama to fail — as if the GOP could not possibly have substantive, philosophically coherent objections to Obama’s aims and methods.

    There’s a whole ‘nother conservative worldview which many of us who post here share. Please grant the loyal opposition their genuine loyalty, and the respect their seriousness is due.

  • lhf

    “The reality is that two of these three groups can unite around a program of efficient government: those who want services and those who don’t like paying for them can agree that government services should be provided as efficiently as possible.”

    This is only possible if the costs of providing services are transparent. Take Medicare as an example – we recipients have no idea what our medical care costs and any effort to find out is greeted by a “why should you care?” attitude. That attitude is present at Medicare, at Medigap insurers, and in providers (at least those doing the billing).

  • Snorri Godhi

    “There are three basic classes of voters when it comes to these issues: those who need government services and want more of them, those who don’t need them and don’t want to pay for services for others, and those who produce those services and want to be paid as much as possible for doing so.”

    May I humbly suggest the following labels for the above classes: the underclass, the middle class, and the ruling class.

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