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.