Commentary

Government Printing Office Makes a Profit in ’11 – Not Good

Bankrupting American notes:

Usually for Wednesday Waste we find an example of hard-to-believe government waste, highlighting the often inefficient ways taxpayer resources are being used. But today, we’re going to change the script a bit and focus on the federal government actually tackling wasteful spending.

This comes from the Government Printing Office (GPO). As The Hill reported late last month, the GPO actually ended 2011 in the black, earning $5.6 million in net income for last fiscal year.

I am not so sanguine about that outcome. The fact that GPO could make a profit printing just frosts the cake of proof that there is no need for the government to be in the printing business in the first place. There is clearly lots of demand and supply, no sign of a market failure here requiring government to step in a provide something the private sector cannot.

If you think the government making a profit is good in its own right, the surely you must think the government should pursue other profit making opportunities. Fortune reports that communications, oil production, and pharmaceuticals are the most profitable industries, so perhaps government should nationalize those industries and start making some real profits? What could possibly go wrong?

Government provision of services can only be justified in limited circumstances, the failure of the market to provide being a key one. Profitability is decidedly NOT one. The federal government has no business being in the printing business, and ought to privatize the GPO on this high note.

[note: I am harshing on this post by Bankrupting America, but by no means harshing on them, they do great work that I use constantly.]

Adrian Moore

Adrian Moore, Ph.D., is vice president of policy at Reason Foundation, a non-profit think tank advancing free minds and free markets. Moore leads Reason's policy implementation efforts and conducts his own research on topics such as privatization, government and regulatory reform, air quality, transportation and urban growth, prisons and utilities.

Moore, who has testified before Congress on several occasions, regularly advises federal, state and local officials on ways to streamline government and reduce costs.

In 2008 and 2009, Moore served on Congress' National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission. The commission offered "specific recommendations for increasing investment in transportation infrastructure while at the same time moving the Federal Government away from reliance on motor fuel taxes toward more direct fees charged to transportation infrastructure users." Since 2009 he has served on California's Public Infrastructure Advisory Commission.

Mr. Moore is co-author of the book Mobility First: A New Vision for Transportation in a Globally Competitive 21st Century (Rowman & Littlefield, 2008). Texas Gov. Rick Perry said, "Speaking from our experiences in Texas, Sam Staley and Adrian Moore get it right in Mobility First." World Bank urban planner Alain Bartaud called it "a must read for urban managers of large cities in the United States and around the world."

Moore is also co-author of Curb Rights: A Foundation for Free Enterprise in Urban Transit, published in 1997 by the Brookings Institution Press, as well as dozens of policy studies. His work has been published in the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Houston Chronicle, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Orange County Register, as well as in, Public Policy and Management, Transportation Research Part A, Urban Affairs Review, Economic Affairs, and numerous other publications.

In 2002, Moore was awarded a World Outsourcing Achievement Award by PricewaterhouseCoopers and Michael F. Corbett & Associates Ltd. for his work showing governments how to use public-private partnerships and the private sector to save taxpayer money and improve the efficiency of their agencies.

Prior to joining Reason, Moore served 10 years in the Army on active duty and reserves. As an noncommissioned officer he was accepted to Officers Candidate School and commissioned as an Infantry officer. He served in posts in the United States and Germany and left the military as a Captain after commanding a Heavy Material Supply company.

Mr. Moore earned a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of California, Irvine. He holds a Master's in Economics from the University of California, Irvine and a Master's in History from California State University, Chico.