Wednesday, April 04, 2012

When government is the solution

Having spent the past month in a country where one always has to be careful about what one eats and drinks, I have a renewed appreciation of first rate sewer and water systems.  Such things require

I can imagine, however, that there are people of a certain stripe would would argue that clean water and good public health should no more be fundamental rights than, say, broccoli.


David Barker said...

Hi Richard, it sounds like you had an interesting trip.

Suppose the U.S. federal government stopped regulating water and sewage systems, and that some states completely privatized those systems. Do you think water quality would fall to the level found in India?

My guess is that large companies would build reputations for providing clean, safe water. More people would probably experiment with non-potable water supplies for toilets, washing, and irrigation, potentially saving a lot of money.

Do we really need government for water?

Richard Green said...

David--show me an example of a country that developed clean water for everyone without relying on government.

But you oppose medical licences too.

David Barker said...


There is little evidence of dramatic efficiency improvements, but there is also no evidence I know of unsafe water as a result of privatization.

Since there is government everywhere, the question of whether it is a precondition for clean water is moot. But it is possible to safely get government out of the water business.

Yes, I think the medical licensing system, along with certificate of need requirements, limits on immigrant doctors, etc. are designed to raise profits of healthcare providers. Private systems to communicate doctor reputations would be as effective and much less costly.

Anonymous said...

Me, I'll take my US food and water regulatory regimes, thank you very much. There are also markets for governmental provision of regulation.

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