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Public and Private

September 24, 2020

It’s in the news lately:  Should services be delivered by government agencies or private companies?  The new leader of the federal conservatives has promised to defund the CBC, a publicly-owned broadcaster.  The PC government of this province is starting a study of Manitoba Hydro International, a profit-making arm of a government corporation.

The answer seems to depend on political ideology.  The conservatives want to reduce government services, favoring private corportations.  The socialists want more government services, limiting private corporations.

Of course, there is some agreement.  Both groups agree that some services are naturally public and some are naturally private.  These are the two ends of a continuum.  They disagree on where the dividing line should be placed.

There are some criteria that might help in this decision.  If the service is carrying out government policy, it should be a government agency.  If it’s in competition with private companies, it should be private too.

In either case, government regulations are important.  They are required for employee health and safety.  They are also required to control a monopoly market, for the protection of consumers.


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