The public planning oppressors are at it again.
In a Fort Worth Star-Telegram article ("Is the time ripe to privatize our urban mass transit systems? NO") a government coercion apologist cited a counterfeit case of "privatization" as a justification for damning all privatization.
The writer makes it clear that he's against the very concept of privatization by describing the act of transforming any taxpayer-plundered boondoggle into a money-making enterprise "as close to vulture capitalism as one can get."
He then offers Transantiago, the government-run bus system of Santiago, Chile, as his position-clinching Exhibit A.
After privatization, the new dastardly bloodsucking owners cut service to poorer neighborhoods, reduced the number of buses, cut the number of stops, and threatened to raise fares. Ride times tripled, some commuters were forced to walk and many lost their jobs due to chronic lateness.
The State-run Metro subway system was swamped by former bus patrons.
So what's missing from this horror story?
Let's skip the journalistic deep-digging due diligence fact-checking and just take a wild guess that the Third World city of Santiago, Chile probably doesn't come close to resembling a laissez-faire free market capitalist entrepreneurial libertarian wonderland.
What's missing is competition.
Why was the Metro the only alternative for commuters? As in virtually every city on earth, train transportation is a government monopoly or, like the taxi industry in virtually every city on earth, is a government orchestrated privately owned cartel designed to guarantee profits for the politically connected and under-the-table kickbacks for the public purse string powercrats.
(For those not wise to the cab con, most cities create a one-company-fits-all monopoly on taxis and hand out an exclusive franchise to whoever has the political connections or the bucks to bid [buy, bribe] their way into favor. Prove it to yourself by typing "taxi monopoly" into Google and see how many cities worldwide have city-created taxi monopolies.)
A government monopoly transmogrified into a government-protected "private monopoly" is not privatization, and it's not vulture capitalism. It's pretend privatization engineered by vulture governmentism.
A true private company must make a profit or die. Period. Profit, after all, is the defining difference between private and public. If that means cutting some routes, cutting some stops, cutting some rolling stock to keep from dying, that's neither good nor evil, that's reality.
But claiming a private bus company failed because it didn't do enough altruistic money-losing feel-good ideologically correct political pandering like a tax-gobbling public sector boondoggle would have done (running too many busses on too many routes for too-low fares) is like saying a donut shop failed because it didn't sell enough mud flaps.
The second thing missing from this horror story is a free society.
Privatized enterprises can prosper only in a society that has been privatized.
Government can't create competition. In a free "privatized" libertarian society, government shuts up and gets out of the way so any entrepreneur with a serviceable vehicle can jump into the transportation vacuum left behind by the new service-cutting company. Anyone with a car, a minivan, an SUV, a station wagon, a jitney, a minibus, a pedicab, a limo, one taxi or a fleet, or a competing bus line can vie for customers, thereby driving quality of service up, prices down and incompetence out.
Would-be riders get to vote with their feet (or their seat).
It's only in the mandated, regulated, manipulated, government monopolized world of the bureaucratic central planner that people are forced to walk, or forced to travel nose-to-armpit in pubic transport, when they don't want to.
Hubris-drenched central planners from Moscow to Beijing to Washington love pretend privatization straw man stories like Transantiago. They can scream at the public, "See! Privatization has failed again!" and then pompously invoke the latest party-line shibboleth like this one from our erstwhile article writer: "If anything, it's time to devote more public funds to urban mass transit systems as a first, significant step in the battle to fight global warming" which replaces the previous platitude "Do what we say or the terrorists will have won" which supplanted the older banality "for the children."
Free enterprise in a free society makes everyone free, including the central planning master race who will be free to find real jobs.
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