Garbage collection is fine as a private service, but roads? What would possibly improve by letting individual profit-seeking companies control where and when you are allowed to drive?
It’s a simple answer. Individual profit-seeking companies only make a profit if you can drive when and where you want. Right now, only one “company” provides roads — your local state government. And if they don’t feel like building where you want to drive, tough luck. A private company would have a financial incentive to build a road where you want to drive.
Example: The population on the west side of Madison has been growing. More people have been moving to West Madison and to the West Madison suburbs. Traffic on the Madison beltline has been increasing, especially in certain sections of the western half. Traffic on County Road M has also been increasing. In some places, it’s only a one-lane road.
The state of Wisconsin has no plans to widen the beltline or CR-M. They’ve publically stated that the earliest they’d even consider doing something would be around 2014. As a result, I increasingly do everything possible to avoid CR-M and the beltline during periods of high traffic.
Unlike the state, a private company would have an incentive to widen both of these roads and increase capacity. More capacity means more drivers. More drivers means more profit. It’s a win-win scenario. They get more money, I get a faster commute. This is the beauty of free-market capitalism — both parties win or there is no deal.
All of this only works, of course, as long as there is more than one private company building roads. Two competing companies would each have an incentive to get me where I want to go as quickly and efficiently as possible. A private company that has no competition — for instance, one granted a monopoly by the state or local government — would likely do little better than the government does. Competition is the magic ingredient that makes a free-market work.
So, why do you think roads should be government controlled instead of privately owned?