Emergency of Expanding Government

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Emergency of Expanding Government

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In an industry largely dominated by government monopoly, private ambulance services offer a great illustration of the importance of a free market. In fact, by competing not only with one another, but also government services, they show that — once again — the private sector is better able to handle almost anything.

Granted, there are areas that clearly are the province of government. But those things are few. Everything else should belong to the private sector. Ambulance services were, once upon a time, all private companies. It is only in fairly recent history that government stepped in and took over that arena. In the ensuing decades, government has attempted — and in some places has succeeded — to create a monopoly in the ambulance industry.

Even still, there are private services competing in that marketplace. One such service is Thorne Ambulance Service, LLC in Greenville, South Carolina. After years in the ambulance industry, Ryan Thorne launched his company in 2010. He told The New American, “I went to the bank and tried to get a small loan to get started, and even though I had my whole business plan put together — all my numbers, figures, projections — I was 22 years old, so when I walked into the bank, I pretty much got laughed out of there. It was like they saw me as a kid trying to open up a lemonade stand.”

But believing he had a good plan, Thorne decided to try again, taking a more difficult approach to raising the funds needed to start his company. “I took that same presentation and I sat down at the kitchen table at my parents’ house and I pitched the company to my dad just as I would if I was in downtown New York City trying to pitch some big name investors,” he told The New American.

Thorne said his father was a “tough sell” but was convinced by the data that showed that a private ambulance service was needed and something that Ryan could do. Thorne’s father saw the opportunity as an investment. Thorne laughs when he says it is the highest interest loan he has taken out to date.

Like many, his father was at first under the impression that ambulance service is something only handled by government. But when Thorne started his company, there were already 13 private companies operating in his area. Today, owing to a combination of increased government regulation and stiffer competition, that number is down to four. This demonstrates the value of private ambulance services competing with one another. Those that can’t compete — either because they don’t maintain sufficient standards or simply can’t handle the business side of things — evaporate and leave room for those who can compete to expand and fill the new void.

This is exactly the opposite of what happens with any monopoly, especially government monopolies. When there is no competition, there is no need to strive for excellence. When the government has a monopoly, there is no real accountability. As Thorne explained to The New American, “If you call 911 and they dispatch their own ambulance and it never arrives, no one is held accountable. If my company gets that dispatch call and the ambulance never arrives — or arrives late — I am held accountable.” That accountability may take the form of fines, or it may result in losing the contract with the county. But when a county handles all of its own emergency calls in-house and it drops the ball, there are no penalties.


This article appears in the March 23, 2020, issue of The New American. To download the issue and continue reading this story, or to subscribe, click here.

Courtesy of The New American