Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Some services better off privatized

Some services better off privatized (All of them actually, but I don't write the headlines. My Clovis News Journal column for June 15, 2012)

One stumbling block that trips up a lot of people when confronted by the idea of a truly free society is how to do any job currently monopolized by government: building and maintaining roads, water and food safety, a system of justice, education, fire fighting, national parks, etc.

Why do people believe these things and services must be provided by government? That's not the way it was always done, and not even the best way it can be done

I would suggest a thought experiment. Suppose you wanted to provide a product or service of the sort government generally does now. Suppose that theft and coercion- the methods employed by every government today- were forbidden. How would you proceed?

Let's just look at one of those examples for a start: fire fighting.

In a recent story out of Albuquerque a house burned while waiting for the arrival of the fire department, while a closer fire department wasn't allowed to come fight the fire. The problem was that the burning house was not in the nearer fire department's jurisdiction. And Albuquerque firefighters say this happens on a daily basis.

That is complete idiocy.

In a free society, competing fire companies, possibly financed by subscription, would most likely fight the fires first; sort out the details later. After all, a house on fire, or a wildfire, could threaten their customers' property regardless of whose fire company was responsible for putting out the flames. Plus, it is quite probable that your subscription would make the fire company liable for any fire damage that occurred while under contract; your fire company would pay to repair any damage they didn't prevent. Try that with your government fire department- or even a volunteer fire department operating under government rules- and see how far you get.

Fighting fires, wherever they occur, is in the best interests of everyone around. Wildfires would be fought by any local fire companies to nip it in the bud rather than wait until their customers, and their profits, were at risk. I suspect that there would also be professional fire crews for hire that could be brought in at a moment's notice by the fire company for extreme situations like forest fires. There will always be adrenaline junkies looking to do the heroic jobs. For pay. Pay that is collected voluntarily without the threat of "fines" or prison.

For every governmental function there is a voluntary alternative that enhances liberty. What is your idea?



  1. Kent,

    This is just one instance where government exacerbates a nonexistent "problem." The path of least resistance at the building department is to beg permission to build your home with flimsy, flammable sticks, instead of using materials that don't burn, like non-flammable, windproof concrete and steel. However, for "weird" houses like that, the building department demands intensive structural engineering, and all engineers know when to go for the throat. I guess most people think fire insurance is cheaper than building a home that won't burn. I don't.


  2. I've always been a big fan of underground homes, too.