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If you take the American argument seriously | 397 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
If you take the American argument seriously
Authored by: JamesK on Sunday, November 18 2012 @ 05:52 PM EST
{
No, it's different to that, the argument is that it should all be paid for directly to private market providers: private police, private fire engines, private roads, etc.
}

Funny you should mention that. In Ontario, we've recently gone through a bit with an air ambulance service called "Ornge". The idea was this company would operate the air ambulance service on behalf of the provincial government. Get better efficiency etc. Sound good. What we got was completely different. The guy who started it used the taxpayers money in an attempt to set up his own empire, in part to hide his salary from public inspection. IIRC, he went from about $150K per year to $1.5M, while claiming that since he wasn't paid by the ambulance service, his pay wasn't public info. He also told the dispatchers to hold back on sending out aircraft, until it was determined they were really necessary. The provincial coroner is now investigating several (17 IIRC) deaths, to see if slow response was a contributing factor. This guy also overpaid for helicopters, which weren't up to the task for things like CPR, but then sold "marketing info" that could have been produced by a teenager in an afternoon on Google, for $6M to that helicopter manufacturer. Can we say kick back? The story goes on...

This is but one example of what can happen when businesses can do things without proper supervision and, if necessary, regulation.

We had another brush with deregulation in Ontario. Several years ago, the province transferred responsibility for water quality to the municipalities. This is certainly something that could work, if the town has the means to do it properly. However, back in June 2000, in the town of Walkerton, the water supply was heavily contaminated with E Coli. Hundreds of people were severely ill, with some suffering permanent injury and some died. The cause of the pollution was farm runoff leaking into a well, but the real disgrace was in how it was handled. In that town, the water works was managed by Stan Koebel and his brother Frank was the foreman. One of the things they were supposed to do is take water samples from various parts of the system and send them to a lab for testing. What they did was collect all the samples in the office and labeled them as coming from the various locations. When the bad results came back, they at first tried to bury them, and then tried ineffectively to fix the problem. After people started getting sick, the local medical officer of health asked if there was a water problem, but the brothers said no. The MOoH then conducted his own tests and discovered the contamination. The Koebel brothers were sentenced to prison.

So yes, regulation is often necessary, because so many will try to take advantage and create harmful situations, just to save money for the bottom line.

Walkerton Tragedy

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