26 01 2013

There has been a flurry of concern in Nashville lately, in some circles, because the Nashville Farmers’ Market is not meeting its expenses, let alone returning a profit to the city, and so there has been some talk of “privatizing” it, in hopes that somebody will figure out a way to make running the market “profitable.”

This prompts two lines of thought for me.  One relates to the Farmers’ Market in specific, and the other is the much broader subject of government provision of public services being criticized for not being “profitable.”  Let’s look at the second one first, and then examine the specific case of the Nashville Farmers’ Market.

One prime example of a government agency (albeit now a semi-private agency) that is in big trouble because it is not “profitable” is the United States Post Office.  It is ironic to me that many people who style themselves “strict constructionists” also advocate privatization of the post office and criticize it for losing money, because establishment of a postal service is directly authorized by the U.S. Constitution, which says nothing about whether that service needs to turn a profit or not.  Good communication is essential to creating a cohesive political entity, and so “post offices and post roads” were high on our founders’ agenda–we’re talking Article One  of the Constitution here.  The Post Office was not some afterthought. Read the rest of this entry »

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