08/21/12 Government Profit Motives


Amtrak has lost more than $830 million on food and beverage service in the past 10 years. When it sells a $9.50 cheeseburger and a two dollar soda it loses more than $8.00.

[It should be noted that Amtrak food and beverage employees have also committed fraud against passengers and the U.S. government.]

The entire Amtrak service has lost money in each of its 40 years in spite of $40 billion in taxpayer subsidies. It should at least break even.

Though not everything government should turn a profit — such as police and fire departments.

But taxpayer subsidies, user fees, profit motives: it’s all mixed up.

Palm Beach, Florida charges accident victims ambulance fees. The state of Florida sells drivers’ personal data on file at the DMV.

Chicago privatized the Skyway toll road after losing money for 50 years. Its new operators expect to turn a profit.

Some governments are muscling their way into private business.  Baltimore’s city-owned hotel — the Baltimore Hilton — has lost money every year since it opened.

Governments have sacrificed safety and made intersections and city streets profit centers by installing speed and stoplight cameras.

Chattanooga, Tennessee was caught shortening the duration of its yellow lights in order to rack up more fines.

[BTW, studies have shown that shortening the duration of yellow lights and the use of stoplight cameras at intersections lead to an increase — and not a decrease — in vehicle accidents.]

It’s all backwards.  Government is attempting to profit where it has no business while shirking responsibility to serve the public.