Sell government assets for a "win/win" situation


Some assumptions concerning public policy are false. “If government doesn’t do it, nobody will” is a particularly pernicious one. This assumption fosters a tendency for government to hoard assets that could be utilized better in private hands, and to greater benefit for the public.

Raw and developed land, sports stadiums, infrastructure like sea ports and even airports may serve the public better when removed from government control. It’s not just a free-market pipe dream to mention these examples. There is a history of success behind privatizing such assets.

One “no brainer” example of a government asset that would benefit the public more if moved into private hands is Portland International Raceway, which is currently owned by the city. Auto racing is not a public necessity, but it can be a good business. Under the ownership of those who’s primary business is racing, PIR would likely attract more major events. This would delight fans, bring in profits, help tourism, and generate revenue for the city. In effect, a “win/win” situation for everyone.

By design, government cannot be dynamic enough to deliver all the services the public wants and needs. Just because a service may be vital doesn’t mean government can or should provide it. Selling many assets would allow government to focus on its primary role of protecting our lives, liberty and property. It would also let those with a better understanding of the other services better serve the public.

Truxton Meadows is a research associate at Cascade Policy Institute, a Portland, Oregon based think tank.

© 2006, Cascade Policy Institute. All rights reserved. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided the author and Cascade Policy Institute are cited. Contact Cascade at (503) 242-0900 to arrange print or broadcast interviews on this topic. For more topics visit the QuickPoint! archive.

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