The one regular benefit everyone in my neighborhood gets routinely from local and state government is the use of local streets and highways. It would not be practical for a private company to replicate this service. It seems reasonable that we pay taxes to state and local government so state and local government, in return, can build and maintain roads that provide us with freedom of movement in our privately owned cars and trucks.
But then the snowstorm came. And we have discovered that although we are dependent on government to maintain the roads we drive on, it is not a high priority for the government -- at this moment at least -- to restore our access to those roads and thus to maintain our freedom of movement. Government officials seem to be rationing their limited supply of snowplows. They plowed the interstate. They plowed the main arterials. But they did not plow the residential streets where most people live.
As soon as the storm stopped, small bands of shovel-bearing entrepreneurs moved through my neighborhood clearing people's driveways for a fee. As a result, many local driveways were quickly cleared all the way down to the snow-laden street. People who had the money and foresight to invest in four-wheel drives and other vehicles with heavy carbon footprints could make their way to the roads the government had plowed.
In some neighborhoods, friends told me, local property owners paid private contractors to clear the residential streets. These people could get out, too.
But people who were totally dependent on the government to provide them with the basic service of a road on which they could safely operate an ordinary car were out of luck -- and stuck.
Maybe government should run the heath care system, too.