The Pleasures of Government

I just heard on DC radio here a classic example of just how unresponsive large bureaucracies can be, when there is no good reason for them to behave as they do.  In a rare feat the Washington Nationals professional baseball team has won its division (miracle!) and is now in the baseball playoffs.  Of course some of those games are here in DC and many (very many) residents here rely on the Metro (light rail system) for their transportation.  It is very difficult here to get a personal parking space, difficult to drive in town and even more difficult to park for a visit somewhere in the city..  Moreover, the Metro authority–an independent agency running the Metro–has said it will not run the Metro line to and from the National’s stadium past its usual closing time, even though the game might run past the closing time, leaving many fans stranded.


I thought the purpose of the provision of goods and services by the government was to be responsive to public demands for the level of service.  I am sorry.  It seems I was naive.  The real purpose is not to inconvenience any bureaucrats, even though the added cost of operation is pretty minimal.  I can however guarantee that if the Metro was a private entity, it would be open as long as necessary–even if a higher fee had to be charged.  
Classic as I said.  Expected from government?  Generally, yes these days, and increasingly so.  Moral of the story:  We need to have a serious discussion about either privatizing more services and/or moving to smaller and devolved government agencies that do provide such services.  Can you say “Uber”?

6 thoughts on “The Pleasures of Government”

  1. Let’s say it was privatized. How would that work? Would they have a monopoly or would DC have several tracks all running to the same destinations?

    Yes this is a stupid decision, private public transportation isn’t the answer though.

    There are three types of government functions. Ones that private industry can’t reasonably do, ones that private individuals won’t do, ones government shouldn’t be doing. Public transit I believe falls directly on the first, like maintaining roads.

    1. Transportation systems can easily be private. Consider railroads, and ones that carry passengers as well as freight. They manage quite well–except when demand falls as it did for passenger travel. Nevertheless, we did not and would not see trackage everywhere. Rights of way can be agreed on and even settled by government. Then the system can be run privately. Nevertheless, my point was not to argue that Metro ought to be private (though I would not mind), but to argue that the purpose of a public good provider is, miracle, to be responsive to that public whom they serve.

  2. That is really unfortunate for the fans using the Metro at that late of night for the game. Private functions like Uber would be a big help in this situation and I believe that the initiating of this service would help the city as a whole and not just for this particular situation with the baseball game. However, I do not know all the functions that will result because of this and privatization seems to have more consequences than I have seen.

  3. I agree with what you are saying. I am one for a smaller government because I think the less dependent we are of the government the better. This allows for more private travel business companies to start and to produce for the consumers. I also believe that all governments are corrupted in some way, so a smaller government means less corruption.

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