Bureaucracy: What Government Agencies Do and Why They Do It

By James Q. Wilson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 19
Markets

TRY TO THINK of a government activity that has never been done or is not now being done by a private firm operating in a more or less competitive market. It's not easy. Everybody knows that businesses as well as governments have collected trash, swept streets, operated buses, managed hospitals, and run schools. Some of us are aware that private security firms have more employees than do municipal police departments. Americans who have traveled abroad know that in many foreign nations the governments own and operate the airline companies, telephone systems, electric utilities, and television stations, services that here are provided in large part by private enterprises. A few of us are aware that in some states businesses are running prisons. The historically-minded among us will recall that at one time private banks issued their own money and nations going to war hired mercenary armies.

But there are many more less obvious examples. Fire-fighting once was done almost exclusively by private firms in this country and still is done that way in many places in Denmark. (For-profit fire departments have staged a modest comeback here: One company now operates fifty fire departments in five states.1) Private weather forecasters compete with the National Weather Service. Businesses have been hired to manage Medicare insurance claims, train the unemployed, man naval vessels, and supply inspectors for the agency that verifies Soviet compliance with the treaty banning intermediate-range nuclear weapons. Once parcels were delivered to our homes almost entirely by the U.S. Postal Service; now that function has been largely taken over by private carriers such as UPS. We have national parks and forests run by the Park Service and the Forest Service, but we also have privately owned and managed parks and some environmentalists believe that more private ownership would improve

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Bureaucracy: What Government Agencies Do and Why They Do It
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface to the New Edition ix
  • Notes xvi
  • Preface xvii
  • Acknowledgments xxi
  • Part I - Organizations 1
  • Chapter 1 - Armies, Prisons, Schools 3
  • Chapter 2 - Organization Matters 14
  • Part II - Operators 29
  • Chapter 3 - Circumstances 31
  • Conclusions 48
  • Chapter 4 - Beliefs 50
  • Conclusions 70
  • Chapter 5 - Interests 72
  • Conclusions 88
  • Chapter 6 - Culture 90
  • Part III - Managers 111
  • Chapter 7 - Constraints 113
  • Chapter 8 - People 137
  • Conclusions 153
  • Chapter 9 - Compliance 154
  • Summary: Achieving Compliance 174
  • Part IV - Executives 177
  • Chapter 10 - Turf 179
  • Conclusions 195
  • Chapter 11 - Strategies 196
  • Conclusions 217
  • Chapter 12 - Innovation 218
  • Part V - Context 233
  • Chapter 13 - Congress 235
  • Appendix - Congressional Dominance: a Closer Look 254
  • Chapter 14 - Presidents 257
  • Chapter 15 - Courts 277
  • Chapter 16 - National Differences 295
  • Part VI - Change 313
  • Chapter 17 - Problems 315
  • Conclusions 331
  • Chapter 18 - Rules 333
  • Chapter 19 - Markets 346
  • Conclusions 363
  • Chapter 20 - Bureaucracy and the Public Interest 365
  • Notes 379
  • Index 409
  • Subject Index 418
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