I saw part of a commercial on tv last night for a news channel. It bothered me, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on the reason why. It kind of reminded me about privatization, which was a really big topic back in the 90s. To put privatization in very simple terms, it is the idea that it is better for the government to contract for work to be done than to do it themselves because the government can’t be experts in everything. Thus, it makes more sense for an expert to provide the service. Also, it can be most cost effective. At the time one area where privatization was growing was in managing prisons. If you look at how a prison is run and how it makes sense for one company to provide the services in various areas rather than having each city, county, state have to basically provide the same services but on a much smaller basis then you can see why privatization was viewed as the direction governments needed to go.
So back to the commercial I saw. It had to do with a bridge that can only be built by the government, thus, the reason why we need to watch that channel because they see the need for the government to provide things like bridges for us. Finally, I realized the problem with this idea. Have you noticed what happens when a bridge is built or a road is built. The government contracts with a company that specializes in road building or building bridges to do the work. Perhaps a government will do basic work, but ultimately they will find an expert to do the work. Thus, while this commercial was about the need for government, government eventually needs the private sector to do the work. Come to think of it, sadly the point of the commercial was that the private sector wouldn’t invest in building bridges thus that is the reason the government is needed. Perhaps, if the government would allow the private sector to do what they do best, the private sector would invest in bridges. As a side note, if you look back at roads, ferries and bridges back in the Colonial times, they usually were built and maintained by private citizens.