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The Private Option

By       Message marvin chester       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   3 comments

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The 'public option' in the current health care reform debate means that doctors will be paid by the government. Your tax dollars will pay for some stranger's flu shots.

Ronald Reagan put it best way back in 1961 when he said, "It's very easy to disguise a medical program as a humanitarian project". The public option is a way to impose "statism or socialism on a people ... by way of medicine".

Is it not time to roll back the statism that has already been imposed on us in other areas? For example road maintenance. Let's return to a free enterprise 'private option' here.

Consider the sad state of our roads. Potholes. Nuisance repair crews constraining traffic at inconvenient hours. Transportation arteries too narrow to accommodate the flow of business traffic. Leaving things in the hands of government has led to inefficiency and the squandering of public funds. We see it every day from the driver's seat of our cars.

The highways, the streets and transportation thoroughfares ought to be in private hands. Put them up for public auction. Perhaps in two mile sections. The highest bidders will own the roads. And the treasury will reap a windfall from the sale. At a mere $20 per foot of road $422 Billion is made available to government coffers nationally. California would have no budget crises if it sold its public roads!

It would work like the private option health care system we currently enjoy. In that system the physician is in business like the road entrepreneur. He charges those who choose his services. The road owner would collect a toll from those who choose to use his road. Enterprising physicians make special reduced fee accommodations with organizations whose personnel they service. These accommodations are what medical insurance companies arrange. Road companies would do the same. They will negotiate tariff reduction arrangements with trucking companies who use their roads regularly. It's a system founded on the sturdy rock of individualism and unfettered free enterprise.

The profit motive will insure that private owners maintain the roads. The toll booths they put up will recoup their expenses and return a profit. The public, by exercising their freedom of choice on which routes to travel, will naturally use the better maintained ones. Competition among road owners to increase their revenue will drive them to offer good maintenance as well as competitive toll rates. Thus, the free market will give us better roads. Bureaucratic government inefficiency will be eliminated. And taxpayers will be spared the expense of paying for the maintenance of routes they don't use. By privatizing roads we deal a blow to government interference in our lives.

Furthermore new avenues for initiative and enterprise will present themselves. Suppose you own a property through which an attractive shortcut could be routed. Traffic on your north-west corner would prefer the hypotenuse over the right angle to reach a junction at the south-east corner. If your property can offer motorists that shortcut you can lay down that road. Progress will no longer be hindered by bureaucratic entanglements and public debates on roadway proposals. New roads become business opportunities. Where there's traffic there's an opportunity for gain. A parallel toll road can offer relief to the beleaguered driver and economic gain to the road owner.

Ownership of bridge thoroughfares includes, of course, ownership of the whole bridge. Incentive to maintain these come from freedom of enterprise. The bridge owner knows that poor maintenance will encourage some entrepreneur to build a competitive bridge over the same water.

There is good precedent for privatizing the arteries of transportation. In the thirteenth century most of the world functioned that way. And they got along perfectly well doing so.

The next step will be to get big government out of Air Traffic Control.


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Emeritus Professor of Physics, University of California, Los Angeles. Interested in the operation of natural process in all spheres of inquiry: at the foundations of physics, in the evolution of species, in the epidemiology of (more...)

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The Private Option