Road Essay, Research Paper
A Practical Proposal for Privatizing the HighwaysLet us suppose that our national main road system is a & # 8221 ; natural monopoly, & # 8221 ; as economic experts use the phrase. Howcould it be privatized? In peculiar, how could it beprivatized in a manner which would: ( a ) create private endeavors & # 8217 ; usual inducements to keepprices and costs low and quality high ( B ) create inducements for invention ( degree Celsius ) maintain the low minutess costs of free public proviso ( vitamin D ) eliminate any demand for continued ordinance typical of & # 8221 ; contracting-out & # 8221 ; strategies ( vitamin E ) be simple plenty to win public support? 2. An Excessively Simple ProposalThe simplest reply would be to merely give every adultcitizen in the state a portion of stock in the route system, and so allow the Privatized Road Corporation do whatever itlikes. It could bear down a level fee, per-mile charges, tolls, orany other combination. Naturally, the Corporation wouldearn monolithic monopoly net incomes, but if everyone in thecountry were having a portion of them, why should wecare? In fact, if we push the logic far plenty, we will notethat if the consumers and the shareholders are the samepeople, so seeking to pull out monopoly net incomes would becompletely futile. But on 2nd idea, we should observe the strongassumption underlying this thought: it assumes that everyone inthe state would utilize the roads to the same extent, and thateveryone in the state would keep an equal figure ofshares. The latter status would _initially_ hold byassumption ; but in all likeliness, some people would selltheir portions to others, and the largest stockholders would, as usual, keep the places of power in the corporation. Similarly, executives would likely have much of theircompensation in stock benefits. The consequence would be thatthe people doing the pricing and other determinations of thePrivatized Road Corporation would do a great trade moremoney from higher stock net incomes than they would lose frompaying high route monetary values. Indeed, this is the typical corporatesituation in any industry: because an oil executive buys onlya little sum of oil, but receives much of his wage in stockoptions, the fact that he is one of the consumers who willpay high monetary values is fiddling for him. Of class, if the Privatized Road Corporation will be able toearn monolithic monopoly net incomes, this will be reflected in thestock monetary value ; if everyone in the state starts with a portion, the existent receivers of the monopoly net incomes would be all of us. The distributional issue would be irrelevent. But what_would_ affair would be the alleged & # 8220 ; deadweight loss ofmonopoly. & # 8221 ; If a route house charges $ 5000 a twelvemonth to drive onits roads, but the fringy cost of another driver is merely $ 1000, so consumers who were willing to pay $ 5000merely _transfer_ some wealth to the route house ; but all of thebenefit of consumers willing to be $ 4999 to $ 1000 isneedlessly lost. A system of equal initial distribution ofshares renders the transportation from consumer to route companycompletely impersonal ; but it does nil to contradict deadweightlosses. True, some pricing governments ( known as multi-parttariffs ) can theoretically extinguish deadweight loss. Onecommon kind of multi-part duty is to bear down a high level per-person fee and a low per-unit fee. If a convenient multi-parttariff existed, so the simple proposal to administer sharesand allow the Privatized Road Corporation do as it pleaseswould be sound. But usually it is hard to implement afully efficient multi-part duty system ; in peculiar, making somight affect really high minutess costs which wouldthemselves constitute a deadweight loss. Let us so see how this first proposal measures up by thestandards we set at the beginning: a. The competitory cheques on pricing are highly weak. While monopoly net incomes would be shared every bit beeveryone, the deadweight losingss of monopoly pricing wouldbe captured by no 1. There would, at least, be a normalincentive to keep quality and maintain costs down which isnotably absent in province monopolies. B. The inducements for invention would be distinctivelyimproved. What inducement does a province monopoly have toimprove its merchandise or lower costs? In contrast, a privatemonopoly has every inducement to work all possible costsavings and to present new and improved merchandises. Itmay charge an arm and a leg for them, but it will certainlywant to present them. c. It decidedly seems like a private route system could havevery high minutess cost. In a best-case scenario, itwould merely bear down a ( high ) level fee ; this would be a definiteimprovement over the current mire of enrollment fees, gasolene revenue enhancements, tyre revenue enhancements, and tolls used to pay for theexisting main road system. In a second-best scenario, the monopoly privatized firmwould charge per-use fees, but would at least have anincentive to follow new, inexpensive engineering for roll uping itstolls ( for illustration, a device similar to the supermarket pricescanner ) . Government monopolies can & # 8217 ; t straight reap thegains of cheaper toll-collecting engineering ; in fact, adoptingsuch engineering could earnestly hinder the _political_profits of bing toll aggregation services, particularly thesinecures that toll-collection bureaus can confer onpowerful public-sector brotherhoods and their members. In a worst-case scenario, nevertheless, the Privatized RoadCorporation would set all of its energies into extractingevery dime of excess possible. They might pass $ 1,000,000 on new sensing engineering in order toincrease net incomes by $ 1,000,001. In kernel, they wouldfocus their energies on redistributing instead than producingwealth. While this is an utmost image, would should notdismiss it out of manus. It is a possibility. d. This proposal would so stop all regulatoryinvolvement. This is its advantage over the more popular & # 8221 ; contracting-out & # 8221 ; or & # 8220 ; contract-bidding & # 8221 ; proposal, whichinvolve a host of bureau and enforcement jobs. e. The simpleness of the proposal is one of its chief sellingpoints. Almost anyone could understand the basic thought, although many people might hold problem understanding theconnection between the high value of their portion monetary values andthe high charges for utilizing the roads. 3. My Solution: A Dual-Securities ApproachI have an alternate denationalization strategy which I believehas the strengths of the old proposal without itsweaknesses. Its chief drawback it merely that it is rather a bitmore complicated that the old 1. I shall get down byoutlining the basic establishments of the system, and thenexplain how this system would work, and why it would workwell. ( Which is non to state that my basic thought could non befurther improved upon & # 8212 ; I & # 8217 ; m eager to hear suggestions! ) To get down with, every grownup citizen would have non one, but_two_ securities. The first would be a standard piece ofcommon stock, which would entitle the proprietor to his or hershare of the Privatized Road Corporation & # 8217 ; s net incomes. Thesecond would entitle the holder to run _one_ motorvehicle on the main roads in exchange for an one-year fee. This one-year fee should be set around ( likely slightlyabove ) the per-capita long-term maintainence cost of thehighway system and good below the fringy willingness topay for the right to run an extra vehicle. Now if you carefully re-read the last paragraph, you willnotice that the system is set up so that _both_ securities willhave a positive monetary value. The portion of common stock will havea positive monetary value because the expected value of future profitsis positive. But the 2nd security, which gives the right tooperate a motor vehicle, will _also_ hold a positive monetary value, because the one-year fee is intentionally set below theconsumer & # 8217 ; s excess of the fringy user.
Now the basic characteristic of the corporate charter would be thatcorporate officers would be required to keep _equalnumbers_ of both types of securities in their portfolios. Executive stock inducements would be balanced between bothsorts of securities ; members of the board of managers
wouldbe eligible only if their holdings of both sorts of stock wereroughly equal. Corporate voting rights would be based uponone’s _joint_ holdings of both sorts of stock. In other words,the entire corporate charter would focus upon maximizingthe value of the _sum_ of the two securities. Now why would anyone hold a large number of the secondtype of security? No one can drive a hundred cars, so whyhold a hundred permits to hold cars? The answer is thatlarge holders of the second sort of portfolio would _rent_their use to individual users. One easy method would be ifthe Privatized Road Corporation annually issued oneregistration sticker per type-2 security owned; then theholders of excess stickers could sell their excess annualstickers, while retaining ownership of the security itself. What is so great about this system? The answer is that itgives very strong incentives to adopt policies whichmaximize profits _plus_ consumers’ surplus; it givesincentives to trade off profits and consumers’ surplus tomaximize the size of the total pie. And again, there is noissue of redistribution because by assumption we would allstart off with equal numbers of both securities. Let us consider a simple example. Suppose that the head ofthe corporation is pondering whether to set up a system ofmeters on bridges. In the plan outlined in section two, theCEO just wants to maximize profits; he would implement theplan if the cost of the metering system were less than theextra profits extracted. But in _this_ plan, the CEO has avery different problem. If he sets up the meters, the value ofhis type-1 security goes up due to the greater expectedprofit stream. But the value of type-2 security will _fall_! Before, the marginal motorist was willing to pay $1000 for asticker; but now with the toll the value of the permit is less,so the price will fall. Moreover, if the bridge is uncongested,we would expect the value of type-1 securities to rise by(extra profits from toll – cost of collecting toll), whereas thevalue of type-2 securities will fall by (extra profits from toll -deadweight loss). In short, the sum of the two securities willfall if (costs of collecting toll + deadweight loss) is positive;or in other words, if the proposed change is not Kaldor-Hicks efficient. The only case where the CEO would nowwant to add a toll is if doing so would reduce congestion, cutdown on wear-and-tear, or otherwise improve the quality ofservice or reduce the costs of production by more than thecosts of toll collection. What’s the trick? The trick is essentially that by creating afixed stock of type-2 securities, we create a _perfectlyinelastic_ supply of driving licenses. Since the incidence ofmonopoly power (like the incidence of taxation) will alwaysfall _entirely_ upon the holders of the inelastically-suppliedgood, it becomes possible to make the benefit and theburden of monopoly power fall on exactly the same people. In fact, it isn’t even necessary to set a fixed flat fee for theownership of a type-2 security; since the incidence will beborne entirely by the owners of the security rather thanconsumers, and since we have set up our corporategovernment to evenly balance the interests of both types ofsecurity- holders, we could even let the Privatized RoadCorporation set the annual fee ab libitum without fear. The only important consideration is to make sure that thenon-negativity constraint on the market value of the twosecurities never binds. If it did, then assuming that sharevalues could not fall further, the incentive for inefficienttransfers from consumers to shareholders could re-emerge. The really crucial question is how to set the initial number ofshares. If we set them simply to cover marginal costs, thenwith increasing-returns-to-scale technology it wouldimpossible to cover fixed costs and maintain a positive valuefor type-2 securities. On the other hand, if we set thenumber too low, then a growing population would not enjoythe full potential benefits of the national highway system. To put the first problem in perspective: the current roadsystem _already_ inefficiently excludes many low-valueusers. In most states there is a registration fee, a gasolinetax, a tire tax, and a myriad of other costs which keep low-end drivers off the road. There would be no need for thePrivatized Road System to suffer any greater inefficiency onthis count. In fact, when we consider the fact that the valueof the type-2 securities will discount their expected netearnings into an infinite future, the number of low-end userswho would need to be excluded from the highways in orderto maintain a positive share value could be quite small. The second problem — of the number of type-2 securitiesbecoming progressively less adequate to serve a growingpopulation — could be handled in two ways. First, in thecorporate charter it might be specified that the PrivatizedRoad Corporation is obliged to issue a number of shareseach year equal to e.g. the growth in the population. Butthis would probably not be necessary. The firm wouldalways be free to offer deals to non-security holders. Indoing so, it would exercise some monopoly power, but thismonopoly power would be constrained by the availability ofthe fixed stock of type-2 securities. (Like the existence ofused cars constrains the pricing of new automobiles.)In fact, we could get rid of the non-negativity constraintentirely if we combined the type-1 and type-2 securities sothat they could not be sold separately. Security holderscould “rent” the right to use the roads, and the expected sumof rental values plus the expected sum of profits woulddetermine the value of the combined security. While thiswould be theoretically preferable, I think that the dispersionof renter and shareholder interests created by my dual-security system is desirable on public choice grounds (inparticular, I think it makes abrogation or alteration of thecorporate charter vastly more difficulty), and this gain isworth the slight efficiency created by the non-negativityconstraints. Turning finally to points (a) – (e), we find that:(a) The dual-security system adds powerful incentives forefficient, competitive pricing, while sharing the incentives forquality and cost-control of the first proposal. (b) The incentives for innovation are again quite vigorous. (c) On transactions costs grounds, the dual-security systemis clearly superior to the first proposal. The way that thesecurities are designed ensures that the firm will only incurtransactions costs when the _total surplus_ gain exceedsthe transactions costs; whereas in the first proposal, therewas an incentive to incur any transactions costs which wereless than the extra profits they brought it. (d) As before, there would be no need for continued publicregulation. It would merely be necessary for the corporationto live up to its own corporate charter; and as I noted, thedual-securities approach makes it quite difficult for largeshareholders to alter the charter to their own advantage. (e) Unfortunately, my proposal is quite complicated. Thismakes it difficult to explain it to the general public and winits support. While this is a serious problem, and one thatworries me, the general approach seems promising enoughto make it worth further exploration. In particular, we shouldnote that the principles outlined here could be adapted tothe seemingly intractable problem of how to privatize _any_existing state-owned natural monopoly. 4. ConclusionI haven’t been nearly as rigorous as I would eventually liketo be on this topic. There are several points where Iavoided discussing some of the thornier issues in theoreticalIO. I’m not sure if my proposed system could meet any ofthe strict technical standards for Pareto-optimality. However, I do think that I have proposed a surprisinglyworkable method of privatization for a whole range of statemonopolies which economists usually don’t even considertrying to privatize.