James.qxp July August 2018 web - Page 49



by Marc Hyden
id you know Domino’s Pizza has been filling
hundreds of potholes in cities across the country, including Athens, Georgia? It’s not done,
either. Domino’s is currently accepting nominations for additional cities whose roads need repairs.
The driving force behind Domino’s actions is the fact that
deplorable road conditions pose a hazard to pizza. Bountiful
potholes can violently jar delivery cars and ruin their precious
pizza cargo— a tragedy by any stretch of the mind.
Through these actions, Domino’s has turned a prevailing notion about government on its head. Many of us were
taught that road construction and maintenance are fundamental government roles. Yet when a private company like
Domino’s voluntarily assumes one of the government’s
most basic functions— and does a better job— people
should take note.
Private enterprise could greatly improve upon a host of
government-run activities. These include, but are not limited to, the transportation and electricity sectors, as well as
various regulatory regimes. Georgia should consider more
public-private partnerships to help reduce those pesky potholes. These partnerships could take the form of private
companies maintaining roadways in exchange for toll collections or— as in Domino’s case— free advertising. Either
way, these options can improve the status quo.
The Tennessee Valley Authority is another government-run monopoly through which private enterprise
could assume government operations. The TVA generates
wholesale electricity for 12 Georgia counties, and retail
electricity providers within this district are only allowed to
purchase the TVA’s electricity. The TVA monopoly suffers
from systemic flaws and has drawn its fair share of controversy. (The agency’s CEO is the highest paid
federal employee— earning millions more
than even the president of the United States.)
Rather than pursuing this electricity model,
other states have permitted private electricity
competition and have subsequently experienced a reduction in electricity prices. Thus,
divesting the TVA’s assets and/or control to
private companies could prove highly beneficial for consumers.
Non-government organizations can also
replicate some forms of state regulation without the attendant costs. As it stands, nearly
one-third of Americans must obtain occupational licenses from the government in order to
work. The purported reasoning is to protect
consumers, but licensing tends to protect
industry insiders instead.
Occupational licensing is particularly problematic in
Georgia. In fact, it has some of the nation’s most burdensome laws. Some occupations in which there are no public
safety concerns— like auctioneers, pre-need cemetery salespeople and librarians— could be deregulated without harming public health. Rather than relying on Georgia’s current
job-killing system, we could depend on private third-party
institutions, like the Better Business Bureau or Yelp, to
inform consumers of unscrupulous practitioners. In this way,
fewer people will be barred from working due to onerous
government regulations, and consumers can gain greater
knowledge of businesses’ practices.
Allowing private enterprise to take on roles normally
associated with the government is not without precedent. In
fact, the affluent, 100,000+ person city of Sandy Springs is
largely a privately-run city. Many of the Georgia city’s operations have been farmed out to private businesses. This
proves that private enterprise can effectively replace many
government functions.
Sandy Springs and Domino’s have provided valuable
lessons that we can apply to government operations
almost across the board. A pizza company may not be
able to run the entire government, but private businesses
can certainly play a major role in bettering existing government programs. While there will likely be disagreements over what private participation in traditional government sectors looks like, in the end we should all be
able to agree that government programs can benefit from
private partnerships.
Marc Hyden is the Southeast region director for the R Street Institute
and a longtime Georgia resident.
J U LY / A U G U S T 2 0 1 8
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