Should Cities Outsource Public Services?

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A small California municipality, Maywood, has done the inevitable: it fired all local government employees and outsourced all the jobs to private contractors. And guess what? Apparently it's doing just fine. In what will be an intriguing case study in Nozickian libertarianism, New York Times writer David Streitfeld profiles the town and--to his surprise--finds that citizens don't mind the outsourcing of parking enforcers, City Hall workers, and street maintenance services. (Public safety duties, he notes, were given to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.)

While it's probably a stretch to think that other small towns may follow suit, the fact that many communities are even toying with the idea is a testament to the devastating cuts that have, or will shortly be, enacted by the chronically troubled California state legislature. The reoccurring revelations that a few local officials are grossly overpaid and underworked has only added fuel to popular animosity mounting in favor of further outsourcing.

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