Privatizing does not create sufficient supply to meet demand. Parks are public goods that are optimally provided through collective action. Parks are non-exclusive. Parks generate benefits not just for people who pay or use them. The utility one person derives – fun, health, green environment – subtracts nothing from utility to another. Individuals have no incentive to pay alone because of free riders. In contrast, a market good, say, an apple, consumed by one is not available to another.
What’s behind the drive to privatize government? Not competition or efficiency. Government can hire private companies who lower costs by not using union labor or paying pensions or health benefits. Many do not want government workers to have middle class benefits they enjoy themselves.
The Civilian Conservation Corps is a best practice example. CCC during the New Deal created 3 million jobs and gave people a sense of self worth, created 8,000 parks, planted 2 billion trees, and slowed erosion on 40 million acres of land. Visits to National Parks increased 600%.
The boom, not the slump, is the time for austerity. Keep state parks open for all.
Robert García www.cityprojectca.org