There seems to be an interesting trend in Illinois recently, though I’m not sure if it is replicated across the rest of the country or not. Illinois politicians are slowly selling away government services and assets to the highest bidder – Midway Airport, The Skyway, State Toll Roads, and even the sacred Illinois Lottery.
What is interesting about this process is that isn’t driven by a recognition that competitive markets provide better services, or that, perhaps, government is providing services that it has no need to provide. No, it’s a never-satiable thirst for more funds to grow government even more.
What is a little frustrating is that they are merely replacing one monopoly with another (unless they split up the Tollway, which I doubt) so we Illinoisans will not receive any of the benefits of competition. However, if this trend continues, might we end up with a government that owns very little in the way of assets and providing very little in the way of services beyond pensions, Medicare and required Federal programs?
If that is, indeed, the inevitable outcome is that something that supporters of limited government should welcome – the shuffling of monopolies from government to private parties? There are no promises that this will improve the services, so there is very little chance of backlash (unless service deteriorates drastically) against privatization.
Once privatized is it possible that competition will emerge? Government will have no need to jealously protect its monopoly, so it’s not impossible. That leaves me optimistic that bloated government, itself, will lead to greater competition in services that government provides today.