I’ve been trying to think of a product or service that has a government option as well as private options, and am looking to my readers (all two or three of them) to tell me if these examples are good:
If you’re on trial, you can hire a lawyer or the state can appoint one for you. As much as state attorneys have been vilified in media and literature, the truth is, they offer an option to people who otherwise have none, and they do occasionally succeed in proving that their client is the wrong guy (or at least that there is no valid evidence to prove he’s the right guy).
As I wrote previously, meteorological forecasting companies tried to block NOAA’s website because it would offer unfair competition. But NOAA has a useful website which some people use, and there are still plenty of private weather sites out there.
There are public beaches and private beaches. People who have the money for a private beach can enjoy the exclusivity. The rest of us plebes at least have the public beaches.
We have public transportation. I wish we had more. I rode the express bus when I worked in Norfolk and can honestly say that the express bus is nice, but the ridership isn’t the cause of the automobile industry’s problems. And while people may complain about taxes going to a system they don’t use, it’s the only way a lot of people can get to work. I’d rather pay for the buses than keep an obstacle in place between people and their jobs.
Opponents to the health care plan make the contradicting arguments that the health care plan will be terrible, because it’s run by the government and everything the government does is terrible, but that it will offer unfair competition to the private industry. But there examples of products and services provided by private industry and also provided by the government. In cases where the government version is good, it succeeds in making the private versions better. In cases where the government version is not so good, it at least offers a choice to those who would be left without one. And, in many cases, we all benefit from letting those people have a choice, even if we choose not to use it for ourselves.