It's often argued that the state should take control of this and that because it would lead to a more 'responsible', long-term and efficient management, unlike the market where 'greed' and short-term profits are said to dominate.
Politically driven projects indeed tend to be long-term. However, over time they are given lower priority by opportunistic politicians who want to appease the voters as newer priorities appear. The projects these charlatans dream up aren't their property and are thus neglected accordingly, since they are a public and common good. If 'everyone' owns something, nobody owns it. Despite this, the projects can continue to run almost unnoticed, until the fuel runs low and the media exposes them as costly and inefficient. Are we really justified to call this 'long-term responsibility'? Is it even possible for politicians to simultaneously think in terms of both long-term and efficiency?
Consider the following points:
- What can be more irresponsible than politicians who don't have to worry about any losses, since they're always guaranteed money via taxes?
- What could be potentially more ineffective than politicians who aren't tested like any other players on a free market? Politicians don't get any financial feedback from those they claim to serve and are thus incapable of knowing whether they are satisfying their 'customers' or not.
- What can be more short-term than politicians who ultimately care more about becoming re-elected in the next election than anything else?
- Political institutions are rigid and neither motivated nor adapted for change. They even fear and to some extent counteract change.
With all this in mind, who's the most greedy one? The politician or the entrepreneur? Who can you really influence? Who can you really choose?
In conclusion, don't confuse the duration of state projects with political 'responsibility'. It's high time we put any and all pipe dreams about 'responsible politicians' on the shelf and instead start thinking in terms of human action and the incentives that really drive human beings.