State of Local Privatization

Robert W. Poole, Jr. said that a local government could be operated by three people, a manager, a lawyer, and a secretary in his book “Cutting Back City Hall.”

So, I wanted to find out the current state of privatization in local government. The International City/County Managers Association (ICMA) has been assessing local government practices, experiences, and policies in alternative service delivery every 5 years for more than three decades.

In June 2017, ICMA partnered with Cornell University to launch an update to the Alternative Service Delivery (ASD) Survey. Paper surveys were mailed to 13,777 chief administrative officers of all municipalities with a population of over 2,500 and all counties across the United States.

Responses were received from 2,343 local governments, yielding a response rate of 17% with a 2% margin of error. The results were published in June 2019.

This survey provides insights into alternative service delivery among U.S. local governments. Key topics explored include feasibility work done by local governments on private service delivery; obstacles faced in adopting private service delivery; techniques to evaluate private service delivery, as well as shared services with other jurisdictions; and how certain services are provided within communities.

Some of the obstacles to privatization local governments claim to have run into include; Opposition from elected officials 43.2%, Opposition from local government line employees 45.8%, Opposition from department heads 24.4%, and Restrictive labor contracts/agreements 32.8%.

So, what private-sector alternative delivery systems do local governments use?

Alternative service delivery using the private sector:

Vehicle towing and storage 75.5%

Legal services 62.2%

Commercial solid waste collection 61.9%

Operation of daycare facilities  61.0%

Residential solid waste collection 56.7%

Recycling 51.9%

Electric/gas utility operation and management 50.9%

Solid waste disposal 47.4%

Operation/management of hospitals 47.1%

Information technology services  45.8%

Street tree trimming & planting 34.7%

Home health care/visiting nurse  34.7%

Street repair 33.3%

Disposal of hazardous materials 32.4%

Fleet management/vehicle maintenance  31.2%

Addiction treatment programs 30.8%

Mental health programs and facilities  28.3%

Insect/rodent control 26.7%

Facility maintenance 25.5%

Emergency medical transport/ambulance 22.2%

Operation of parking lots & garages  21.5%

Utility meter reading & billing 21.2%

Building security 21.2%

Traffic sign/signal installation/maintenance 19.8%

Maintenance/administration of cemeteries 19.5%

Operation of convention centers and auditoriums  19.5%

Street/parking lot cleaning 18.6%

Affordable housing 18.0%

Operation/maintenance of paratransit system 17.5%

Emergency medical care 16.6%

Collection of delinquent taxes 16.2%

In-home safety improvements for seniors 15.5%

Operation of homeless shelters 15.4%

Parks landscaping/maintenance 15.2%

Operation of cultural and arts programs  15.2%

Operation/maintenance of bus transit system 14.9%

Operation of airports 13.6%

Inspection/code enforcement 13.0%

Youth employment programs 12.1%

Comprehensive land-use planning 11.8%

Personnel services  11.6%

Before/after school programs or summer camps 11.5%

Workforce development/job training programs  11.5%

Programs for the elderly  11.3%

Programs to address hunger 11.1%

Title records/plat map maintenance  10.8%

Tax assessing 10.8%

Snow plowing/sanding 10.4%

Land use review and permitting  10.0%

Elder nutrition programs (e.g., Meals on Wheels) 10.0%

Payroll 9.9%

Child welfare programs 9.7%

Senior recreation programs 9.4%

Youth recreation programs  9.2%

Centralized customer service system (i.e., 311 system)  9.1%

Water distribution 9.0%

Tax bill processing  8.8%

Water treatment 8.7%

Operation of animal shelters 8.7%

Economic development  8.5%

Sewage collection and treatment 7.6%

Animal control  7.5%

Inspection of food preparation facilities 7.4%

Public relations/public information 7.1%

Operation of museums  7.0%

Sanitary inspection  5.8%

Operation of recreation facilities  5.8%

Parking enforcement 4.1%

Prisons/jails 3.7%

Operation of libraries 2.5%

Fire suppression  0.9%

Public safety dispatch 0.8%

Crime prevention/patrol  0.5%

Here’s the report if you want to read it:

2017 Alternative Service Delivery Survey

Rule of Law

Rule of law is one of the main reasons to even have a state. Yet it isn’t done well by governments. Research done by Robert Poole in Alameda County, California illustrates this; in one year there were 98,218 felonies reported to the police.

Victimization studies conducted by LEAA and the U.S. Census show that actual crime is 2-3x greater than reported. So, we can estimate the actual felonies at 245,545. For all these crimes, the police only arrested 13,695 adults and 6,798 juveniles.

Of the 13,695 adults, the police released 2,377 on grounds of insufficient evidence, requested misdemeanor complaints against 1,315, and requested actual felony complaints against 10,043.

But the district attorney’s office found that in only 4,946 of the felony cases was there sufficient evidence to warrant felony prosecution; of these 4,946, the municipal court dismissed or processed as misdemeanants 2,714, sending only 2,232 to superior court for felony trials.

Of these, 1,856 were convicted of felonies that means 12% of all arrested as felons, 1.7% of all reported felonies, or 0.7% of all actual felonies. Yet, America’s prisons holds 22% of the world’s entire prison population. This is not counting secret hidden prisons.

So, either, the American people are the worst people on the planet or there is something fundamentally wrong with our system.

Institute for Competitive Governance

ICG Mission Statement

The Institute for Competitive Governance (ICG) wants to show the world a better way to better government by encouraging the research and development of relatively small but deeply innovative special jurisdictions. 

This sort of structural reform can put the power of private competition to work at finding new solutions to oldest problems of public life. As the world has grown increasingly complex and interconnected, governments’ reform efforts have fallen behind the pace of change.

Special jurisdictions, defined as areas exempt from one or more national laws, offer a tool by which countries can test new laws, implement international best practices, and ensure competitiveness for the 21st century.

Competition between special jurisdictions embodies the best aspects of market competition, ensuring that successful practices are rapidly adopted. China lifted 700 million people out of poverty in a large part due to the rapid expansion of special economic zones inspired by Hong Kong.

Their success, among others, has opened new vistas for improving governing services with narrow but deep reforms. The Competitive Governance Institute furthers this area of governmental innovation by generating scholarly work to inform policymakers about special jurisdictions.

ICG promotes the study and development of special jurisdictions through white papers, public education, and advice to policymakers. The Institute maintains a non-partisanship approach to its topic, however, seeking only the universally acceptable goal of improving human communities.

Types of Special Jurisdictions include:

Special Economic Zones; Special Jurisdictions with legal exemptions from select laws–typically, import restrictions and taxes–but sometimes with their own commercial codes, examples include Shenzhen, Shanghai, and Dubai.

Charter Cities; Mixed use urban developments administered by third party governments within a host country. Examples include Early American colonies, like Pennsylvania, and proposed contemporary ones.

Private Cities; Privately owned and operated mixed use urban developments.  Examples include city-sized HOAs like Highland Park, Colorado, and the Gurgaon in northern India.

Cooperatives; Communities in which the residents manage their jointly-owned property, examples include Co-Op City in the Bronx area of New York, NY, and Marilenda, Spain.

Microstates; Small states, often no larger than cities, examples include Liechtenstein, a microstate with one of the highest GDP Per Capita in the world. link

Libertarian 2/18/21

Why I’m Happy That We’re on Parler

Parler users have a reputation for being more conservative than users on other platforms, and more conservative than we are. It’s hard to know for certain, since it’s hard to experience a whole platform; and I’m sure many Parler readers (at least the ones who would read our posts there) are pretty similar to many of our current readers.

But let’s stipulate to Parler’s being more conservative. Let’s even stipulate that there are some people on Parler who have views that I not only disagree with, but outright revile.

Getting it Right

This week, Jonah brings The Remnant to you from the ice-wracked void of Austin, Texas. His guest is Stephanie Slade, the managing editor of Reason magazine.

Stephanie and Jonah provide some helpful explanations of what the oldest coalition of modern conservatism (i.e. “fusionism”) really is, who its members were, and what its political motivations were.

Then, in an instance of “violent agreement,” our two intrepid intellectual explorers refute the idea that this fusionist project is a “dead consensus” or that it necessarily precludes membership from libertarians.

Interestingly, Jonah thinks that the tensions within fusionism are strong enough that “it doesn’t make sense as a purely philosophical project,” but Stephanie is confident that American political history indicates that the tension between virtue and freedom is resolved within the fusion of these different branches of conservatism. link

Libertarian or Orwellian: What to make of the vaccine passport?

Heralded as key to returning to normal, the digital “vaccine passport” may offer a way to make things easier. However, there are many who baulk at the idea of the mass holding of personal data along with security concerns.

Lefties Have More Fun

“Left movements exude the zest of adolescence, which is why they can generate so much thrill and camaraderie and—when they occasionally succeed—such deflated confusion and hollowness.” link

Libertarian 2/17/21

Don’t confuse the left with liberalism

Many on the right blame “liberals” for the current spate of censorship and cancel culture. In doing so, they confuse liberals with leftists. There is a critical distinction.

Liberals are tolerant and open-minded. We welcome debate on divisive issues. We are even sometimes persuaded to change our minds. We try to disagree without being disagreeable.

We do not end friendships over political disagreements. We do not impose our values and preferences on others. We accept George Bernard Shaw’s admonition: “Do not do unto others as you would that they should do unto you. Their tastes may not be the same.” link

Oren Cass Urges Conservatives to Shed Free-Market ‘Orthodoxy’

Donald Trump: Can’t live with him, can’t live without him. Republican Party leaders aren’t expelling Trump from the party because, even though they lost the White House and both houses of Congress during his tenure, they’re afraid they would do even worse without him as their link to the working class.

But center-right thinker Oren Cass says there’s a brand of non-Trumpian conservatism that can win national elections by hanging onto working class GOP voters while appealing to culturally conservative Democrats.

Cass, who worked on Mitt Romney’s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, says the key is jettisoning the party’s commitment to what he calls “market fundamentalism.” link

More Republicans than ever think a third political party is necessary, poll finds

Support for a third major political party is at an all-time high in the United States, a poll found. The Gallup poll found 62% of respondents think a third major party is necessary — the highest percentage recorded since Gallup says it began conducting surveys about third parties in 2003.

The poll of 906 American adults, conducted Jan. 21-Feb. 2, has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. link

A New Counterweight to Stakeholder Capitalism

Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) investing has reshaped the relationship between shareholders and corporations. Previously, asset managers would put pressure on boards and CEOs when their share prices were underperforming, but under the new framework of “stakeholder capitalism,” boardroom fights are as often about carbon emissions as they are about capital efficiency. link

Libertarian Party meets

The Gila County, Arizona Libertarian Party meets at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 17 at Denny’s Restaurant, 312 S. Beeline Highway. The group meets in the far corner area, just look for the Libertarian Party sign.

All Gila County residents interested in learning more about America’s third largest and fastest growing political party are welcome to attend. For more information, please visit or call 928-468-3576