Want to ride on my highway? It’s not expensive. A dollar will take you from one end to the other, which is almost ten miles. Good deal. Besides, it’s the only thing available.
In colonial days, and in early America, there were many such private toll roads. People took it upon themselves to make a road into the wilderness where there was none, and charged for the privilege of driving on it. Those who owned the toll road not only had to make the road, but to maintain it as well. They got you where you wanted to go the only way possible for a wagon or cab.
Why don’t we have private toll roads today? Because we have found a far more efficient and coordinated way to pay for them, and in most cases we don’t even have to pay a toll. These free highways—we each “own” about fifty feet—are available everywhere in the country through the magic of tax revenue. And they are far, far more efficient, better organized, and cheaper than private roads could ever be. Instead of parallel roads going to the same place, we just have one. Instead of stop signs at every corner, we have limited access highways with on- and off-ramps. Instead of the tax collector going door to door to collect for a new road, we build it from general funds.
In other words, using routinely collected tax revenue is the most efficient and least costly way to provide our paved roads. This doesn’t surprise you, of course, because you long ago realized that the government is the most efficient administrator for things that affect the public good, that is, everyone. No profit is necessary because it’s not a private enterprise. In fact, government is the most efficient way to get all kinds of things done. There was a spate of privatization of certain government functions. An analysis found that in at least 90% of cases the government did it better.
What other things, you may wonder, might best be similarly paid for and administrated? Things that are a universal need. Things that would cost less if they weren’t private.
You realize the answer after you have thought about it for eight seconds: health care and retirement savings! Absolutely shocking! Perhaps that’s why all the advanced countries have such things. Ya think?
Well, it makes sense. Every third “health” dollar we spend is for insurance paperwork instead of health care, most of which would be eliminated. And by putting all doctors on salary, they wouldn’t be bulking up their pay by ordering unnecessary tests. We might cut healthcare costs in half, which is what the advanced nations pay, and provide it for every American, like the advanced nations do. And automatic retirement savings would make saving easy. How radical would that be? We’d be just like the advanced nations.