Até Mais, Lisbon
Mon Jun 16 00:10:55 CEST 2008
Martin Naef schreef:
> Well, it works in growing markets or where the infrastructure
> requirements are "reasonable" - e.g. mobile. But for something like
> railways, gas, power or even wired phones it just doesn't make sense to
> have several distribution networks in parallel - hence there is no free
> market because the entry barriers are just way too high. And unless you
You have a point that duplicating infrastructure is useless, but the EU
prescribes, for instance, that the former state telco, which put all the
copper wire in the ground, should offer 'local loop unbundling'. So I
can have my own exchange and international connections, but use the
infrastructure of BT, KPN, Deutsche Telekom, etc.
For gas, I know for sure that in the Netherlands you can switch
providers for your gas and electricity supply. And nobody will come to
your home to dig up your garden and the street, it's just an 'accounting
trick' where you get the same gas as your neighbour, but you pay a
That's the whole thing: separating the infrastructure from the services,
and opening up that infrastructure to competition. Whether it's a
private company that owns the infrastructure, or the government, doesn't
really make a difference. As long as competition is guaranteed, for
which you have those authorities.
> have something like ten players with equal shares, the whole "free
> market" theories just don't work - and the need for these powerful
> regulation agencies proves that point. But these, almost by definition,
> can only step in *after* things have gone wrong. That's why I'd rather
> leave the government monopoly intact there (and yes, I still consider
> myself a liberal).
It really depends. In a way, those authorities *are* a form of
government monopoly, because they implement government policy. So in
case of roads and railways, those are owned by the government (be it via
a privately held company or otherwise). In case of the state telcos,
these are private companies, but there is an authority like Opta
(Netherlands) or Oftel (UK).
And yes, all-out liberalisation doesn't work, as was found out by the
British in the early nineties (after Thatcher was well and good gone),
and by the Dutch about a decade later.
The reason why I prefer an authority over government ownership or
monopoly is not because a government would be more inefficient (it is
not), but because this separates politics from the actual running of an
company. So the government can do what it's good at, which is regulating
and keeping checks, and the infrastructure owner can do what it's good
at, which is providing a service economically.
>> Infrastructure should be government owned or government run, and this is
>> even the case in the UK these days, after the disastrous privatisation
>> by the Thatcher government.
> Erm, I don't see that here. What I see is that I have two different
> (private) bus companies serving the same line, and I can't even buy a
> return ticket that is valid on the other...
But that's not infrastructure, that's a service. If the bus companies
actually owned the roads, and not allow the other company to use them
(as happened often in the early days of railways; look for the phrase
'frog war'), then you'd be talking about infrastructure.
Having two service providers for public transport on the same line
indeed doesn't work, at all. They tried this with trains in the
Netherlands, but it was a failure. So why they still do it in Glasgow is
a mystery, or perhaps the local government is a bunch of baboons. These
days, there are many different train and bus/tram companies throughout
the Netherlands, but they get concessions for a certain period of time,
after a public bidding process.
Is this a perfect solution? Hardly so. Because the government has
delayed investing in rail infrastructure, and because traffic has
greatly increased, only 85% or so of trains leave in time, whereas
before they used to be very punctual.
And because local and provincial governments, which decide who gets the
tender for local train and bus/tram transport, have ever-increasing
demands - air conditioning, low floor buses, etc. - a lot of money is
wasted on brand new buses.
On the other hand, public transport has, on the whole, improved,
especially in those border areas where providers offer both train and
bus services, and provide easy changes between the two forms of transport.
Anyway, that's my view on things: separation of concerns, free market,
but with constants checks and regulation by the government. So that
nobody gets left behind, and nobody gains an unfair advantage.
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