Homesteading City Streets: An Exercise in Managerial Theory
Privatizing all goods and services will satisfy consumers far more effectively than allowing their management to remain in the hands of the state, under socialist provision. If we have learned one thing from the fall of the economic system of the USSR, it is that. More controversially, city streets are no exception to this general rule. They, too, can be mismanaged by the municipal government or run more efficiently through the institutions of private property and competition. What society needs is a system wherein entrepreneurs are rewarded for promoting consumer sovereignty and penalized for failing to satisfy customers. The ballot box vote is perhaps aimed in this general direction, but it is cumbersome: elections occur only every four years, and the electorate is usually given a choice between only two or three options. In very sharp contrast, the “dollar vote” occurs every day and can be focused in great detail upon choices at the micro level; it can distinguish between flavors of ice cream and colors of shirts. It can also reward and penalize individual street owners, tending to guarantee better performance on their part.