Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Private or Public?

      Yesterday afternoon about 3:30  a dump truck with some asphalt rumbled into my close. A few minutes later a truck with a trailer and bobcat arrived. After a  few more minutes a truck with tar and five men arrived. The next truck had the foreman. In the end the sign truck arrived with a sign guy and two woman flaggers. So I think this added up to 11 workers. No traffic went through so the flaggers had nothing to do. 

      Now what was the job for this crew? They were from one of the largest paving companies in Alberta. They had paved this street before and were coming back to correct a few things from

the original job. There were two small areas that should have had more asphalt ...about 3 sq yards.  Within 30 minutes all equipment and crew were gone.

     Now I'm sure one little old guy with a shovel and wheelbarrow could have done this patch in about an hour.

     I'm glad that the city didn't have to pay for this job.

    I got thinking. Many people think that private enterprise is very efficient. I'm not sure this little job was at all efficient. I know the company and they do some very large paving projects and I'm sure are very efficient at the large jobs. 

    Now there are some people who rationalize that since private companies are so efficient that they should do many things the government does. For example: education, health, justice system.  As an example our justice system sentences offenders with the idea that the offenders can be reformed to some extent. I think we have some success in this area as recidivism is reasonable. A private group running a prison would want to make a good profit and not run programs to treat inmates.

    Since I worked for the Federal govt. and local school boards you might suggest that I have some bias. I saw one person in the federal govt. who did absolutely nothing. After that they were good workers. 

    So where am I going with this? I think that there are things the private companies do well and other things the public service does well. In each area there are some notable failures. Failures don't mean that there should be massive changes.

    I just don't want people poking a stick in the other guys' eyes. There should be some respect for what each group does well. The things that don't go well should be looked at carefully.



25 comments:

  1. The thing is, private companies and public entities have different objectives. The former exists to make money; the latter exists to provide services. When you start expecting private entities to manage government responsibilities, you find services coming in second to the almighty dollar. (As in some cases of private prison management companies, where prisoner health and safety have arguably been sacrificed for the sake of cost-savings and, hence, profit.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sometimes the private guys want to make a buck where it's not suitable. they brag and criticise in order to get their foot in the door.

      Delete
  2. That is a strange tale, all that equipment and 11 workers for a small little job like that. You are right, though: some things are best done by large companies, and this wasn't one of them. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. well, the large company didn't know how to do the small job.

      Delete
  3. I often hear that governments should be run a efficiently as private companies. But companies are in business to make money and deliver profit to shareholders. Governments are here to level the playing field and to help our most vulnerable citizens. The two are very different.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My govt experience was that they were much more efficient that what the private guys wanted us to believe.

      Delete
  4. Replies
    1. You've probably done a rant or two on this one.

      Delete
  5. I really think all private prisons should be abolished. If we don't think police departments should have CEOs why the hell do we let it happen to prisons?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There's much more to a prison than housing and doing time. we don't ant them to go back in.

      Delete
  6. I had to chuckle reading this. These situations are a pet peeve of Bob's. He cannot stand to see a group of workers with most of them idle. There are some areas I very much do not want to fall into private hands, education and healthcare being two.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. People like to jump on the crews that look to be killing time but it's not easy to get things to run smoothly.

      Delete
  7. As you and commenters have said there are different priorities but in my experience private industry is not as efficient as it thinks it is. Paying low wages does not equal efficiency. Indeed it can lead to quite the reverse.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's more than wages. Oil companies are completely wasteful.

      Delete
  8. Funny thing is, we've had our 5km of road into town done this past 2 months. They have done an amazing job. I bought them a 24 beer after they were done. We had fun watching them, and asking questions. I'm happy to see my tax dollars at work on this $1.3 m project.They bid it out, RFP. Post soon!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. OK I look forwaRD TO SEEING YOUR NEW ROAD.

      Delete
  9. Once public jobs have the profit motive rather than an eye to the common good I think things go downhill.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've seen this happen a few times.

      Delete
  10. I think we need both private and public depending on the industry/job.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree but sometimes people get greedy and want a piece of the pie that shouldn't be theirs.

      Delete
  11. I like Stephan Hays' comment above. and I agree with you about government vs Private business. Each has its place.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Each has it's place and I don't like to see them bickering.

      Delete
  12. We had our bridge made wider. They started in Nov. It was hectic at first. Stop go right near the high school. Especially with the buss's turning out of the school premises. To all be told. The company said it will be done for the Tourists in June. They were spot on. We even have a bike sidewalks to the left side of the bridge and walking. So they do not have to cross the main highway. I thought that was so courteous as they could of easy done the side walk on the right. We Halliburton people are very pleased with the workers. And there was plenty of men on the job and no slackers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Paving crews work very hard. My crew had a small jow which for them is hard to do.

      Delete
  13. Sigh... We see this all the time in Hawaii with the city road crews. You'll have a couple of guys doing the work and the others just watching. It's crazy!

    ReplyDelete