Detroit Privatization Needs a Tune-Up

Click for audio Detroit Privatization Needs a Tune-Up

Imagine if you had to pay a million dollars to get your car’s oil changed. If you’re a Detroit taxpayer, that’s exactly what it’s costing you each year to provide oil for the city’s 500 police cruisers.

Private garages change oil for around $30. At this price, the million dollars spent by Detroit’s public works department, which performs the police oil changes, should buy each cruiser a new oil change about every six days.

Most cars require an oil change after 3000 miles. To need so many oil changes, Detroit’s police cruisers must each travel 200,000 miles per year.

To do that, the 500 cars must all drive 23 miles per hour, 24 hours per day, seven days per week—without ever stopping to catch a criminal.

The police do catch criminals, so the explanation may be that Detroit’s department of public works, with no competition for its oil changes, is less efficient and more costly than the private sector.

The city should let private firms compete for the oil change business. Doing so could not only save citizens hundreds of thousands of dollars each year, but help keep Detroit’s police force rolling smoothly.

For the Mackinac Center, this is Joseph Lehman.