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The DMV

drhead
Posts: 1,475
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10/29/2013 3:51:45 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
I've heard this argument just about every time I've interacted with an Austrian economist. The claim that the DMV is the perfect example of why the government can't do anything right seems to be rather common, but every time I've asked why it is such a good example of "bureaucratic incompetence"/"tyrrany"/"<insert snarl word here>", the question ends up being dodged, dismissed, or ignored. As a result, nobody says anything else important to back up the point, including why a private-run DMV would work better, which is something that is pretty important to include if you expect anyone to think your point matters even slightly. So, without further delay, what is it about the DMV that Austrian economists don't like, and how would an Austrian economist do it better?
Wall of Fail

"You reject religion... calling it a sickness, to what ends??? Are you a Homosexual??" - Dogknox
"For me, Evolution is a zombie theory. I mean imaginary cartoons and wishful thinking support it?" - Dragonfang
"There are no mental health benefits of atheism. It is devoid of rational thinking and mental protection." - Gabrian
Stephen_Hawkins
Posts: 5,316
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10/29/2013 4:39:57 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
The cop-out is generally "We don't know, but the free market innovates improvement". And in fairness this is true: we don't know what the market will do in this specific a respect, really. However, we can ask whether this is an area where market failure is likely. And when a well educated driving force is a massive merit good, it is clear that a market failure is almost certain to occur, and governmental bodies need to step in. It could of course be done by charities augmenting the free market, in an ideal world, so we can have a hovis. However, in reality, the charity market is tiny - and there are so much bigger charity causes - that this is really not going to happen.
Give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. Teach him how to be Gay, he'll positively influence the GDP.

Social Contract Theory debate: http://www.debate.org...
drhead
Posts: 1,475
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10/29/2013 11:46:18 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 10/29/2013 4:39:57 PM, Stephen_Hawkins wrote:
The cop-out is generally "We don't know, but the free market innovates improvement".

This is the main point that I have a problem with. Why should we simply assume that the free market will work in every case without even considering the possibility that it might not be universally applicable in certain cases, such as ones where consumer choice and competition (which are the central points of a free market that makes it work in the first place) are limited?

It also highlights the main problem I have with the Austrian school - if they weren't so damn bent on leaving out answers to the simplest questions, I might have some respect for them, but they seem incapable of not being vague from my experiences, and instead essentially ask people to have unquestioning faith in the free market. How can I be expected to endorse a system which people consistently refuse to rationally explain without mile-long logical leaps?

And in fairness this is true: we don't know what the market will do in this specific a respect, really. However, we can ask whether this is an area where market failure is likely. And when a well educated driving force is a massive merit good, it is clear that a market failure is almost certain to occur, and governmental bodies need to step in. It could of course be done by charities augmenting the free market, in an ideal world, so we can have a hovis. However, in reality, the charity market is tiny - and there are so much bigger charity causes - that this is really not going to happen.
Wall of Fail

"You reject religion... calling it a sickness, to what ends??? Are you a Homosexual??" - Dogknox
"For me, Evolution is a zombie theory. I mean imaginary cartoons and wishful thinking support it?" - Dragonfang
"There are no mental health benefits of atheism. It is devoid of rational thinking and mental protection." - Gabrian
Khaos_Mage
Posts: 23,214
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10/29/2013 11:56:44 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 10/29/2013 3:51:45 PM, drhead wrote:
I've heard this argument just about every time I've interacted with an Austrian economist. The claim that the DMV is the perfect example of why the government can't do anything right seems to be rather common, but every time I've asked why it is such a good example of "bureaucratic incompetence"/"tyrrany"/"<insert snarl word here>", the question ends up being dodged, dismissed, or ignored. As a result, nobody says anything else important to back up the point, including why a private-run DMV would work better, which is something that is pretty important to include if you expect anyone to think your point matters even slightly. So, without further delay, what is it about the DMV that Austrian economists don't like, and how would an Austrian economist do it better?

I think the claim goes like this:
1. Nobody likes the DMV, especially due to lines and rules and overall time (plus they are often rude as a stereotype)
2. Government has no incentive to improve this.
3. A private company does.

Therefore, private companies provide better services. The specific argument about the private DMV might not be much better run than the government's, but I think the example is used for two reasons: emotional connection (people hate the DMV), and it's known to them (almost everyone deals with the DMV).

However, like with most things, people just parrot others' ideas and examples without understanding them. So, it is no surprise that asking people about it gives you a blank stare.
My work here is, finally, done.
YYW
Posts: 36,294
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10/30/2013
Posted: 3 years ago
For anyone who doesn't think bureaucracies are efficient, I would encourage you break a few laws and see how quickly you wind up behind bars. The criminal justice system is incredibly efficient at incarcerating people... perhaps in the United States more than any other. And effective too! It's in fact so effective at imprisoning people, that the incarcerated often find themselves back in that system after they re-enter society!
Tsar of DDO
Khaos_Mage
Posts: 23,214
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10/30/2013 12:09:53 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 10/30/2013, YYW wrote:
For anyone who doesn't think bureaucracies are efficient, I would encourage you break a few laws and see how quickly you wind up behind bars. The criminal justice system is incredibly efficient at incarcerating people... perhaps in the United States more than any other. And effective too! It's in fact so effective at imprisoning people, that the incarcerated often find themselves back in that system after they re-enter society!

Depends on how you look at it, doesn't it?
I have had both cops and district attorneys either lie to my face about laws on the books, or just not know them.
I would say it is incredibly inefficient for me having to go to court to fight a seatbelt violation for not being buckled while at a stoplight.
My work here is, finally, done.
YYW
Posts: 36,294
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10/30/2013 12:13:10 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 10/30/2013 12:09:53 AM, Khaos_Mage wrote:
At 10/30/2013, YYW wrote:
For anyone who doesn't think bureaucracies are efficient, I would encourage you break a few laws and see how quickly you wind up behind bars. The criminal justice system is incredibly efficient at incarcerating people... perhaps in the United States more than any other. And effective too! It's in fact so effective at imprisoning people, that the incarcerated often find themselves back in that system after they re-enter society!

Depends on how you look at it, doesn't it?
I have had both cops and district attorneys either lie to my face about laws on the books, or just not know them.

I think it was Clausewitz who said something to the effect of "Never presume malice when incompetence is a possibility."

I would say it is incredibly inefficient for me having to go to court to fight a seatbelt violation for not being buckled while at a stoplight.

It was not efficient for YOU. It was very efficient in taking your money, however.
Tsar of DDO
Khaos_Mage
Posts: 23,214
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10/30/2013 12:16:28 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 10/30/2013 12:13:10 AM, YYW wrote:
At 10/30/2013 12:09:53 AM, Khaos_Mage wrote:
At 10/30/2013, YYW wrote:
For anyone who doesn't think bureaucracies are efficient, I would encourage you break a few laws and see how quickly you wind up behind bars. The criminal justice system is incredibly efficient at incarcerating people... perhaps in the United States more than any other. And effective too! It's in fact so effective at imprisoning people, that the incarcerated often find themselves back in that system after they re-enter society!

Depends on how you look at it, doesn't it?
I have had both cops and district attorneys either lie to my face about laws on the books, or just not know them.

I think it was Clausewitz who said something to the effect of "Never presume malice when incompetence is a possibility."
Whose saying anything about malice?
Incompetence leads to inefficiencies, always, regardless of what sector.

I would say it is incredibly inefficient for me having to go to court to fight a seatbelt violation for not being buckled while at a stoplight.

It was not efficient for YOU. It was very efficient in taking your money, however.
Hardly, they lost.
Had they been efficient, the cop wouldn't have cited me for not breaking the law, and the DA would have dropped the case upon seeing the evidence, instead of offering me a plea.
My work here is, finally, done.
YYW
Posts: 36,294
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10/30/2013 12:25:56 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 10/30/2013 12:16:28 AM, Khaos_Mage wrote:
At 10/30/2013 12:13:10 AM, YYW wrote:
At 10/30/2013 12:09:53 AM, Khaos_Mage wrote:
At 10/30/2013, YYW wrote:
For anyone who doesn't think bureaucracies are efficient, I would encourage you break a few laws and see how quickly you wind up behind bars. The criminal justice system is incredibly efficient at incarcerating people... perhaps in the United States more than any other. And effective too! It's in fact so effective at imprisoning people, that the incarcerated often find themselves back in that system after they re-enter society!

Depends on how you look at it, doesn't it?
I have had both cops and district attorneys either lie to my face about laws on the books, or just not know them.

I think it was Clausewitz who said something to the effect of "Never presume malice when incompetence is a possibility."
Whose saying anything about malice?

I'm just saying that it's more likely that they were just stupid rather than that they actually lied.

Incompetence leads to inefficiencies, always, regardless of what sector.

Yup.


I would say it is incredibly inefficient for me having to go to court to fight a seatbelt violation for not being buckled while at a stoplight.

It was not efficient for YOU. It was very efficient in taking your money, however.
Hardly, they lost.

haha, cheers.

Had they been efficient, the cop wouldn't have cited me for not breaking the law, and the DA would have dropped the case upon seeing the evidence, instead of offering me a plea.

All of that for a seatbelt violation? Fvck.
Tsar of DDO
Ore_Ele
Posts: 25,980
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10/30/2013 12:26:24 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 10/30/2013 12:09:53 AM, Khaos_Mage wrote:
At 10/30/2013, YYW wrote:
For anyone who doesn't think bureaucracies are efficient, I would encourage you break a few laws and see how quickly you wind up behind bars. The criminal justice system is incredibly efficient at incarcerating people... perhaps in the United States more than any other. And effective too! It's in fact so effective at imprisoning people, that the incarcerated often find themselves back in that system after they re-enter society!

Depends on how you look at it, doesn't it?
I have had both cops and district attorneys either lie to my face about laws on the books, or just not know them.
I would say it is incredibly inefficient for me having to go to court to fight a seatbelt violation for not being buckled while at a stoplight.

If you ask a customer service rep at JCPenny's, they won't likely know all of their policies and specials. I have a hard enough time trying to get someone to point me to the miracle whip at Freddies. It is only understandable with human limits that not each person is going to know every policy or law.

Also, going back to the key topic. It is best to point out how that is merely a cherry picked stat. The government failing at one thing (or five things) does not mean that it will fail at everything. I've pointed at this before, but Oregon's state run liquor stores make a profit while still being cheaper than the privatized ones in Washington.

It shouldn't be hard to understand that something will succeed or fail based on how it is structured, not if it has a "government" or "private" label over the top of it.
"Wanting Red Rhino Pill to have gender"
Khaos_Mage
Posts: 23,214
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10/30/2013 12:38:10 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 10/30/2013 12:26:24 AM, Ore_Ele wrote:
At 10/30/2013 12:09:53 AM, Khaos_Mage wrote:
At 10/30/2013, YYW wrote:
For anyone who doesn't think bureaucracies are efficient, I would encourage you break a few laws and see how quickly you wind up behind bars. The criminal justice system is incredibly efficient at incarcerating people... perhaps in the United States more than any other. And effective too! It's in fact so effective at imprisoning people, that the incarcerated often find themselves back in that system after they re-enter society!

Depends on how you look at it, doesn't it?
I have had both cops and district attorneys either lie to my face about laws on the books, or just not know them.
I would say it is incredibly inefficient for me having to go to court to fight a seatbelt violation for not being buckled while at a stoplight.

If you ask a customer service rep at JCPenny's, they won't likely know all of their policies and specials. I have a hard enough time trying to get someone to point me to the miracle whip at Freddies. It is only understandable with human limits that not each person is going to know every policy or law.

I get that.
However, there is a world of difference in these examples.
JCPenny: if they had a store ad and policy manual in front of them at their desk and still couldn't tell you, they should (and would) be fired.
Me: the cop has the statute in front of him (I assume, since they look up the statute by number on the ticket) and still get it wrong. He doesn't listen to me (and I have been outright belittled by them when they tell me there is "no exception to the law", when the statute has seven of them). They will likely go undisciplined.

The DA has time and knowledge, and instead of being honest, he tries to muscle money out of me, saying I am wrong about the law (equating it to DWI, which has different verbiage). He, too, will go undisciplined.

The issue is incentive, and the private sector has profit incentive, while the government does not. This, in most cases, make them less efficient, because they don't need to be.

Also, going back to the key topic. It is best to point out how that is merely a cherry picked stat. The government failing at one thing (or five things) does not mean that it will fail at everything. I've pointed at this before, but Oregon's state run liquor stores make a profit while still being cheaper than the privatized ones in Washington.

It can happen, but your example is also an issue of monopoly, too, and as a result, economies of scale. The better comparison is city run liquor stores and private ones in the next town over.

I do not doubt the government can do things well, I just think they generally don't.

It shouldn't be hard to understand that something will succeed or fail based on how it is structured, not if it has a "government" or "private" label over the top of it.
My work here is, finally, done.
Stephen_Hawkins
Posts: 5,316
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10/30/2013 5:52:56 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
Note how I've put forth the economics argument, and it has been hastily sweeped under the rug.

The Free Market does not evaluate merit (or demerit) goods with any level of equity. The DMV gives out a merit good (education in driving, or a driving licence, or whatever you wish to call it), while the free market would not. Thus, the DMV provides a valuable service in the public sphere. It of course can be made more efficient, but the free market would simply make things worse.
Give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. Teach him how to be Gay, he'll positively influence the GDP.

Social Contract Theory debate: http://www.debate.org...