Long time no swimmers
Monday, 09 January 2023
Hello from Germany,
Just a quick thought today (and an example of why I'm a fan of the market economy).
Today is the reopening of a municipal swimming pool in my neighbourhood.
The swimming pool was closed for renovation for almost two years.
It's not a large swimming pool, and at first glance, it doesn't look much different now than it did before it was closed (although some work has been done). And yes, I'm glad it was renovated.
But: How long would the renovation have taken if the swimming pool were not municipal but private?
What if the swimmers were needed for the swimming pool operator because they pay the entrance fee, and these entrance fees were the economic basis for the company? What if, without bathers, the swimming pool went broke? How many months would the renovation have taken then? How many months earlier would the people in my neighbourhood have been able to return to their daily swimming routine?
And if someone is about to argue that there probably wouldn't be a private swimming pool at this place. Because running swimming pools is quite expensive, and this cannot be financed with entrance fees.
Then they is right.
But a private swimming pool is also possible if it doesn't pay off. The city government could give grants. The positive incentives (e.g. a quick renovation) remained largely in place.
In Berlin, where I live, re-election will take place next month (because the last election was not conducted properly!).
There is a lot of discussion during the election campaign about what doesn't work in Berlin (it's quite some things, I can assure you).
There is little discussion about what the state should better keep its hands off from. Where it would be better to use clever (financial) incentives to ensure that private providers enter the market. This is not only about swimming pools. Education, cultural offers, parking facilities – many areas could be at least partially privatised and thus improved by the emergence of competition. The positive side effect: The city government could focus on what the market can't deliver. An excellent digital administration, for example. More support for the poorest in society. Equity through redistribution.
I'm sure this would be a better Berlin. Because that's what the market economy is all about. It forces the providers to act in favour of the demanders. And the latter, we all are.
The Strolling Economist
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