Of course, just as workers have a right to strike, employers -- morally, at least -- have a right to fire them. Under President Reagan, the federal government dismissed striking air-traffic controllers and let eager new employees take the jobs. That might have been a good response to New York's transit strike. Bus drivers must be easier to replace than air-traffic controllers. But replacing the strikers wasn't even discussed. And neither was an even more radical solution: firing both the workers and the public management, or in other words, privatization.
People think that mass transit must be a government function: Who would build the subways? But did you know that private companies built many of New York's subways and ran them until government forcibly took them over? The private sector would do it better.
If private enterprise ran a city's buses, there would be many different bus companies, with many different contracts with their workers. If one bus company's workers walked out, trains and other bus lines would still be available. This would make a strike much less harmful to the public, but more dangerous to the company, which could find itself out of business. Some London subway-station workers just celebrated the new year with a 24-hour strike; London bus service, operated by private companies, was not interrupted. Too bad New York government, instead of privatizing the bus lines it runs, is taking over the lines operated by private companies.
The New York transit strike illustrated two of the dangers of an overgrown government. When you let government monopolize something, you invite stifling disruption when government fails, and you invite it to try to force people to work -- and call them thugs for acting on their freedom.
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