Monday, May 3, 2010

Government Monopoly or Private Monopoly - Updated

One of the implicit argument being made by Democrats is that if we're going to have monopoly or heavy regulation over the delivery of a service, then government might as well deliver it, because it will be cheaper and not tainted by evil profits. This has been applied to the take over of student loans and is also implicit in the argument for "single payer" health insurance. Never mind that we could pay for the nation's health bill for about two days on the profits from insurers. However, a personal experience of my wife's brings home the fallacy of this argument. Before reading the rest of this post, you might want to check the background at B-Daddy's Other Blog about Mrs. Daddy's horrible encounter.

We deal with any number of private monopolies in our every day lives, and while they aren't particularly responsive or innovative, they never seem to raise the bar for contempt of their customers the way the DMV and various branches of the City government seem to. My power company is SDG&E. When I had an issue with a gas main, they were very helpful in sending someone out to check it. They encourage energy savings with rebates and seem genuinely happy to answer my calls. My cable provider, no longer quite fits the category of monopoly, with competition from DSL and satellite, but even when they were, they were helpful in setting up new services and repairs.

Meanwhile the bureaucracy of city government just seems to delight in making our life harder with every encounter. Whether it's the inspector for my pool, telling me something that I later proved was false, or the inability to provide a garbage can in a reasonable manner, or heaven forbid if you don't follow just the right procedures at the DMV.

So this is why I absolutely recommend voting against a guy like Steve Hadley in the District 6 election. If you think that government can deliver services to citizens/customers better than the private sector, you need more trips to the DMV.


Fortuitously, Richard Rider has a story about a bizarre encounter at the post office in Oceanside that only reinforces my point. Rider was trying to get some information about what would happen if he dropped his tax return after 8:30 p.m.. (Even if UPS were a monopoly, I would never expect them to act in the manner described.) Some excerpts:

The first guy I spoke to outside almost immediately went postal on me – in that he was openly hostile, derisive and bullying. He would not allow me to say more than five words at a time.

He proudly announced he was a shop steward and waved his badge in my face. You could see why he was elected steward – he was a bantam rooster, only not quite as bright.

Rider makes the point at the end of the article that this behavior has not been the norm when dealing with postal employees, but even so, in the private sector, anyone who was so combative with a customer would probably lose their job.

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