Privatised Public Services works

via Andrew Sullivan

At the American Spectator (arrivistes!) Iain Murray and Matthew Melchiorre report on the success of a privatised fire service in Chatham County, Georgia:

Free riders bankrupted London’s fire insurance companies by taking advantage of their fire services, but the free rider problem is not insurmountable. Had the two services been operated separately, the insurers could have incentivized the purchase of fire company subscriptions by offering clients discounts on premiums. Meanwhile, the fire company could have averted losses by billing non-subscribers for its services. Such a system actually exists today in Chatham County, Georgia, at the Southside Fire Department (SSFD), a privately run and subscription-funded fire, EMS, and security company.

The SSFD began in 1961 with only $10,000 and a handful of entrepreneurial volunteer firemen who bought a fire truck and offered subscription-based fire protection to the residents of the then-unincorporated southern section of the county. Today, the SSFD has a budget of $10 million and provides fire prevention and suppression services to half of Chatham County at a net financial gain to subscribers, as the discount offered on the homeowner’s insurance premium from purchasing a subscription outweighs the cost of the subscription itself.

This is an elegant solution. Lest you think the idea of privatised fire services is the preserve of heartless Randian nutters* in the Deep South, consider that Danish fire (and ambulance) services have largely been run by private companies for more than 80 years. The lesson of this is that public service provision – even of “core” functions of the state – should not be a matter determined by partisan orthodoxy.

I love that last line, it is work repeating. “The lesson of this is that public service provision – even of “core” functions of the state – should not be a matter determined by partisan orthodoxy.”

National aren’t making a good case yet for partial privatisation or even introducing competition to the state sector. If Labour were half competent National would pull back, but they can’t even run a website so fat chance of them holding the government to account.


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story.  And when he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet.   Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet, and as a result he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist that takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him.  But you can’t ignore him.

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