Small MN Town Privatizes its Police Force

Adrian Moore @ Reason writes: > Small MN Town Privatizes its Police Force:

“Foley, MN has privatized its police.
Yesterday, wearing uniforms and carrying sidearms, security guards began doing 24-hour patrols every day of the week on the shady streets of Foley, a community of 2,600 surrounded by farmland, northeast of St. Cloud.
The cost-saving move has triggered worry among some that town leaders may have gone too far, taking some life-or-death responsibilities out of the hands of those with the legal authority to enforce the law.
“It’s a social experiment and it’s polarizing,” said Steve Olson, a Foley Town Council member who called the deal “the best we could do with the resources we’ve got.””

I am not clear on the moral or significant practical difference between a town hiring a bunch of private individuals who join a guild or union to police streets from a town hiring a firm comprised of a bunch of private individuals (who may or may not also be unionized) to police streets. It seems just a very slightly different formulation of the contracting process, with one situation involving the town in a lot of micro transactions (directly employing police officers) and the other involving the town in one contract with an organization that engages in a lot of micro transactions. Yet it is unusual, and thus is an experiment worth watching closely to see if it results in lower/higher costs or better/worse safety.
[I had to look up Foley on the map].

High-speed rail: A £250m lesson for Britain’s rail enthusiasts – Telegraph

The Telegraph: High-speed rail: A £250m lesson for Britain’s rail enthusiasts:

“The new “Fyra” high-speed service in the Netherlands — opened just two years ago — is close to financial collapse with passengers shunning its premium fares and trains running up to 85 per cent empty.
The line, between Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Breda, cost taxpayers more than £7 billion to build but is losing £320,000 a day amid disastrous levels of patronage.
A Dutch passenger pressure group, Voor Beter OV (For Better Public Transport), is now taking the national rail operator to the Netherlands’ competition tribunal after it slowed down services on the regular network in an apparent attempt to drive passengers on to the high-speed line.”

A Man. A Van. A Surprising Business Plan.

Planet Money @ NPR: A Man. A Van. A Surprising Business Plan. :

Everyone, it seemed, was facing the same problem he was. And this is when Adam Humphreys had his big idea. He called his buddy Steven Nelson. And they rented a van.
A large Penske cargo van.
And they parked it in front of the Chinese consulate. Right in front of the exit door, where frustrated visa applicants wandered out into the sunshine wondering what to do. These lost souls, like Adam a few days earlier, would now be greeted by a sign on the van: Lucky Dragon Mobile Visa Consultants.
Inside, Adam had tricked out the van to be a mobile solution to Chinese bureaucracy. There are a couple of Mac laptops and a printer, plus an old couch, Christmas lights and bamboo mats. It’s as cozy as a dorm room. And confused visa applicants line up outside.

the Pyramids don’t have any operating costs

Peter Gordon sends me to the LA Times, who write an awful editorial: Keeping faith with California’s bullet train: “Worthwhile things seldom come without cost or sacrifice. That was as true in ancient times as it is now; pharaoh Sneferu, builder of Egypt’s first pyramids, had to try three times before he got it right, with the first two either collapsing under their own weight or leaning precipitously. But who remembers that now? Not many people have heard of Sneferu, but his pyramids and those of his successors are wonders of the world.”

In addition to Peter Gordon’s point about slaves building the pyramids, I will reiterate Dick Soberman’s (U Toronto) point that “the Pyramids have lower operating costs”. I am sure three millennia from now people will visit the ruins of the earthquake-ravaged island of California to visit the random spurs of metal and concrete that were once a High-speed rail line which had operated for about a year before technology obsoleted it and the operator went bankrupt. This is much like today when veritable hoards of people visit closed Underground stations and other abandoned infrastructure. This future tourism (discounted to the present at an appropriate discount rate of negative 7 percent) is perhaps the best justification for HSR yet.
The education system in California has clearly deteriorated far beyond what we once understood when editorial writers either believe supporting HSR construction at this point is good policy, or believe their audience will be moved by this.