Need a book? Engineering books recommendations...

Return to index: [Subject] [Thread] [Date] [Author]

Re: California State Employees' Initiative

[Subject Prev][Subject Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next]

Tom Chiu wrote:

> nmends(--nospam--at)mt.net wrote:
> >
> > Tom Chiu wrote:
> >
> > > Everyone on earth should know that state monopoly will not work.  The
> > > Soviets and the Chinese had tried it for decades and they are now
> > > turning back to a privatized market economy.  Why are we going back to
> > > their system?
> >
> > Hmm.  Who built the interstate highway system?  :-)
> >
> _______________________________________________________________________
>
> Anyone can build the interstate highway system with taxpayer's money,
> private or public. The point is that can we do it better with the same
> amount of money and people.  Competition, incentives, layoff, marketing,
> etc. are the key elements that keep the economy going, not expansion of
> state monopoly.  We all know that there are good, highly qualified

I don't think I can agree there.  While of course competition, incentives, layoffs, marketing, etc., are the breath of life
that keep our economy going, history seems to indicate that government has a role, too, especially in the case of a project
with a scope the size of the interstate highway system.

One example from history is the creation of the Montana Highway Commission, now the Montana DOT, in about 1914.  Montana had
roads at the time, but they were all built by private firms.  Some of those firms did a good job and charged reasonable tolls
for the use of their roads, and others did a terrible job and charged high fees anyway.  The travelling public got fed up with
being burned paying tolls for the bad stretches of road that saw no maintenance and that tore up their vehicles, and with
getting lost on roads with inadequate signage.  They demanded the formation of a state agency to oversee the construction and
maintenance of the road system in the entire state, and they kept screaming for several years while the state tried different
approaches to the problem until it found something that worked.  Folks often forget that most government agencies exist
because of public demand, not because of some megalomaniacal bureaucratic whim.

History also abounds with cases of large firms abusing their position if allowed unrestrained access to markets.  Check out
the "robber baron" period at the end of the last century for more details.  That's the period that led to the anti-trust
legislation passed during T. Roosevelt's administration.  And of course, history contains too many cases to count of
unrestrained government running amok.

I submit that the system works best with a dynamic tension between the forces of capitalism and of government.  Read the
history of the US even back during the country's formation.  There never has been a period without government sticking its oar
into the proceedings of commerce, sometimes with good effects, sometimes with bad ones.  And many times the very forces of
capitalism you promote have been the ones screaming the loudest, demanding government regulation to improve their own market
positions!

Strong government and strong private capitalism fighting each other for power and control ensure that *nobody* gets to hog the
whole pie.  That's the system that built this country, even from its Colonial days, and in my opinion, is what we need best to
ensure a bright economic future for each of us and for our children and their children....

> engineers in the public sector. But how many times has one heard of
> layoffs in the public sector in period of hard time, always never,
> instead, taxes will be raised, budget deficit will rise.  All these

Sorry, but I have to disagree again.  The Montana DOT had a big layoff of engineers (and other employees) about 1982, when it
completed the interstate system.  And we've seen continual effort over the last ten years or so to reduce the numbers of
employees throughout state government, so that we are now handling bigger budgets than ever with fewer employees than we had
even a few years ago.  CALTRANS also had a big layoff of engineers about five or ten years ago.  You just haven't seen one
recently.

Nigel