8 government services to privatize now

By Neal McNamara | July 13, 2014
Traffic Cameras Iowa

1) The Veterans Administration - If ever we needed to privatize something right now, it’s the VA. The recent VA scandal has revealed that veterans have to wait months for basic medical care. Arizona U.S. Sen. John McCain put forward a plan in 2008 for a two-tier VA system, where VA hospitals deal with military-related medical issues, and the government gives vouchers for all other care.

2) Public schools - School districts spend a lot of money per pupil on non-educational services like coffee for the board of education and debt. If the government gave families vouchers, parents could decide where to spend that money, and private and charter schools would more efficiently use that money. Competition would ensure that poor-performing schools would go out of business.

3) Parking Meters - Cities that are running huge deficits (looking at you, Detroit) would benefit from leasing their parking meter systems – as Chicago did – to private companies. Cities would see an immediate influx of cash, would be able to cut the parking department out of the budget, and would see profits for decades from the leases.

4) Traffic enforcement - Don’t police have better things to do than write traffic tickets? Let the police suppress crime; let a private company give out traffic tickets. Red light cameras are already an effective tool, and soon school buses will all have cameras to catch drivers who ignore “stop” signs. Collaborating with the court system, private companies could install enforcement infrastructure and handle ticket collections, while cities and towns (and states) would benefit from an increase in officers on patrol.

5) Departments of children and families - One state department you never want to visit is the department of children and family services (a different name in every state). Picture the department of motor vehicles, but with kids and domestic violence. Allow families to buy insurance for sensitive family situations; they could use the money to buy, for example, foster care, so that kids don’t end up in abusive situations. The system could be similar to how we handle substance abuse rehabilitation.

6) The DMV - Why is no one interested in fixing the worst place in the world? With the pace of Internet technology, you could replace those drab waiting rooms and wait times with a website; replace surly driving instructors with the private ones that already exist; you would instantly cut out a bureaucracy that was set up to fail and that serves up nothing but misery.

7) Environmental services - Do we really need to pay hundreds of state and federal employees to look after the millions of acres of forest, desert, and grasslands in America? There are already thousands of private companies working in these areas. A logging company has just as much interest in keeping a forest healthy as a state does. In place of taxpayer-funded care, companies could get rights to use the land – responsibly – in exchange for monitoring the environment.

8) Fire departments - Perhaps not in large cities, but in rural and suburban areas, private companies should provide fire services. Due to a variety of circumstances, some cities and towns lose a drastic amount of population (again, Detroit), but public services remain at the same level. A nimble national corporation could downsize a fire department easily, which relieves taxpayers from paying for a service that’s too big. Homeowners could sign up for a subscription to fire protection and ambulance services, and perhaps pay for it through homeowner’s insurance. Without the insurance, homeowners would either lose fire protection, or be billed accordingly.

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