Thursday, December 23, 2010

Quotation for the day: Lawrence H. White

As long as city streets are municipally owned, their cleaning and maintenance is a collective good in the sense that if the city government did not arrange to have its streets swept, plowed, and repaired when necessary, it is difficult to see who would.  Under private ownership of streets, these services would presumably be bought or provided for each street by its owner.  Under municipal ownership, these services lend themselves to contract provision, as a number of towns in Los Angeles County have found.  Under the "Lakewood Plan" these towns normally contract with the county government for municipal services.  When the county stimated a cost of $62,000 to sweep the streets of Norwalk, California, the town solicitei bids from private firms which ranged from $44,000 to $56,000.  The city of Montreal is divided into 52 sections each winter, 47 of which are contracted out, for snow removal.  Competition among private firms is brisk for the contracts, which require meeting detailed performance specifications, and there is rivalry in doing the best and fastest job.
Lawrence H. White, "Privatization of Municipally-Provided Services," Journal of Libertarian Studies, vol. 2, no. 2 (1978) 195; digital edition here (courtesy of the Mises Institute).

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