Your Brain On Laissez-Faire Capitalism: Let The People Build The Bridges

I’d probably be giving it too much credit to refer to it as a meme, so here’s a silly Office Space “joke” utilizing laissez-faire “logic” that at least a few eyeballs have seen on Facebook:

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So yeah, this makes for a silly joke of a meme, but the problem is, it doesn’t actually work in the real world.

There’s a seemingly endless number of highways, bridges or dams, etc., that would never have been built by private enterprise because it would not have been economically feasible to do so. Only government has the ability and the mandate to say, “Yes, we are going to connect these geographic regions together for the greater public good.” And of course these huge government projects, decades later, create entire local economies, also putting to bed the notion that government can’t create jobs.

No corporation would ever take on projects of this scale, not to mention the inequality of leaving everything up to private enterprise. If big infrastructure projects were left up to the invisible hand of the free market, the only infrastructure that would be built would be that which is necessary to support people of sufficient means (i.e., the wealthy).

Yes, of course it is taxpayer dollars that fund these projects, and private companies that build them, but who will collectively facilitate them? The people? — Okay, let’s go with that for a moment. If “the people” organize into a large enough collection necessary to shepherd these projects from start to finish, is that not equivalent to a government (of the people) anyway? I fail to see the distinction.

Look, I’m cynical as fuck when it comes to government, but I stop well short of assigning consciousness to a non-living entity and believing my cynicism combined with the cynicism of others will actually accomplish anything on its own.

So the way I see it, supporting or endorsing the idea presented in this “meme” is a rude dismissal of many important accomplishments of the past century that have been facilitated by a government of the people. It’s simply too easy to come along decades later and take for granted all the things people before us built, many times subsidized by and facilitated through government.

Let’s build a bridge for the good of the community, then I’ll drive across it, meet you on the other side, and hand your ass back to you.

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GovernmentThe 'Free' Market

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  • Andrew Linn

    Taxpayers do not pay for the roads privately for the same reason they don’t send their kids to private schools: You have to pay for the private in addition to the public, there are so few private schools and private roads because it’s hard to compete against a government with an unlimited budget.

    “There’s a seemingly endless number of highways, bridges or dams, etc., that would never have been built by private enterprise because it would not have been economically feasible to do so.” If it is not economically feasible it should not be done, but the assumption that the infrastructure would never have been built Is, i think, false. There is money to be made from people who use your own bridges, roads, and dams. But whats nice about private roads is you pay only according to your use, or whatever that company decides to charge you.

    “Yes, of course it is taxpayer dollars that fund these projects, and private companies that build them, but who will collectively facilitate them? The people?” I would assume roads would not be collectively facilitated, instead roads would be managed by the businesses that own them.