Thomas Sowell starts off by arguing that politicians have more incentives to build new bridges than to maintain the existing ones. Perhaps – but his proposed solution leaves me breathless:
A company that has to get the money to build and maintain bridges or other infrastructure through the voluntary actions of people in the financial markets, instead of being able to extract money from the taxpayers, is going to find financiers a lot more finicky about what is being done with their money. People who are putting their own money on the line are going to want to have their own experts taking a look under the bridges they finance, to see where there are rust, cracks or crumbling supports. When people know that the lawsuits that are sure to follow after a bridge collapses are going to drain millions of dollars of their own money – not the taxpayers’ money – that keeps the mind focussed. Those who like to think of the government as the public interest personified may be horrified at the idea of turning a governmental function over to private enterprise.
I guess Thomas Sowell has never heard of bankruptcy protection. Or maybe he does not realize that some of the companies who are buying up the assets of local governments are foreign entities. Does he really believe that it is this easy to use the court system to recover damages? I see an enormous market failure here, but I guess Thomas Sowell is like Mister Magoo when it comes to market failures.