Bob Howard, “The Discipline of Necessity,” The Optimist, July-August, 1985, p. 9. With thanks to Nadia Bloom.

The Transport Planning Consultants Travers Morgan Pty. Ltd., recently prepared a report for the Bus & Coach Association of New South Wales, comparing the operations of private bus services with the government run Urban Transit Authority.

The results will probably surprise nobody, but it is nice to be able to put some authoritative figures to what everybody knows anyway.

For example:

  • if private operators received the same level of government subsidy as the UTA, they could provide a free service, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • if the private sector ran the government buses, at current frequencies and fare levels, they would reduce the annual deficit from $100 million to $10 million
  • UTA buses cost about $3.20 per kilometre to operate, private buses exactly half that amount
  • every government bus that goes into service costs about $60,000 a year more to operate than a private bus
  • the UTA employs one specialised mechanic for maintenance for every two buses, while private enterprise operators employ one mechanic for 10 buses
  • for every UTA bus on the road there are 4.7 employees, compared to 1.4 employees per bus for the private companies
  • the UTA suffers from high manning levels, sickness claims and workers’ compensation claims

Who would be brave enough to disagree if I suggest that investigators would turn up similar facts about other notorious government operators such as Telecom, Australia Post and the Main Roads Departments?

I might also add that the same basic disease is at work in the welfare and health systems, and, of course, the Trade Union Movement!

The problem with all these is that they have managed, by one means or another, to escape being subject to any final, external discipline. In the private sector this discipline is imposed by the absolute necessity of showing a profit. Any company that cannot do this does not survive for long. (The exception being, of course, situations where private monopolies or subsidies are granted by governments to private enterprises.)

The key to it all, however, is not so much profit, as the necessity for profit. Or, to put it another way, the absence of any guarantees. With no guarantees there is no choice. It is the necessity that makes it real, and imposes the discipline.

Its effect is as much psychological as anything. It affects the attitudes and values of the people concerned in ways they probably are not even aware of. Knowing you have no choice is a wonderfully simplifying force, as well as a powerful motivator and decision maker.

Private companies are efficient because they have to be. Government operations are not efficient because they do not have to be.

The continued existence of the UTA, Telecom, Australia Post, and the Main Roads Departments has been — at least until now — comfortably guaranteed. It is because we have in our well-meaning way tried to guarantee welfare, health care and — where the unions can manage it — job security, that we are finding the same intractable problems of inefficiency, waste and abuse that plague government businesses cropping up there. In all these cases there is no overall economic discipline because there is no necessity for it. The problem will not be solved until that fundamental flaw is corrected.

(in order of appearance on
  1. Governments Consume Wealth — They Don't Create It
  2. Singo and Howard Propose Privatising Bondi Beach
  3. Singo and Howard Speak Out Against the Crackpot Realism of the CIS and IPA
  4. Singo and Howard on Compromise
  5. Singo and Howard on Monopolies
  6. Singo and Howard Support Sydney Harbour Bridge Restructure
  7. Singo and Howard on Striking at the Root, and the Failure of Howard, the CIS and the IPA
  8. Singo and Howard Explain Why Australia is Not a Capitalist Country
  9. Singo and Howard Call Democracy Tyrannical
  10. Singo and Howard on Drugs!
  11. Simpleton sells his poll philosophy
  12. Singo and Howard Decry Australia Day
  13. Singo and Howard Endorse the Workers Party
  14. Singo and Howard Oppose the Liberal Party
  15. Singo and Howard Admit that Liberals Advocate and Commit Crime
  16. Up the Workers! Bob Howard's 1979 Workers Party Reflection in Playboy
  17. John Whiting's Inaugural Workers Party Presidential Address
  18. John Singleton and Bob Howard 1975 Monday Conference TV Interview on the Workers Party
  19. Singo and Howard on Aborigines
  20. Singo and Howard on Conservatism
  21. Singo and Howard on the Labor Party
  22. Singo, Howard and Hancock Want to Secede
  23. John Singleton changes his name
  24. Lang Hancock's Foreword to Rip Van Australia
  25. New party will not tolerate bludgers: Radical party against welfare state
  26. Singo and Howard introduce Rip Van Australia
  27. Singo and Howard on Knee-Jerks
  28. Singo and Howard on Tax Hunts (Lobbying)
  29. Singo and Howard on Rights
  30. Singo and Howard on Crime
  31. Singo and Howard on Justice
  32. Singo and Howard on Unemployment
  33. John Singleton on 1972 cigarette legislation
  34. Singo and Howard: Gambling Should Neither Be Illegal Nor Taxed
  35. Workers Party Platform
  36. Singo and Howard Join Forces to Dismantle Welfare State
  37. Singo and Howard on Business
  38. Singo and Howard on Discrimination
  39. Singo and Howard on the Greens
  40. Singo and Howard on Xenophobia
  41. Singo and Howard on Murdoch, Packer and Monopolistic Media
  42. Singo and Howard Explain that Pure Capitalism Solves Pollution
  43. Singo and Howard Defend Miners Against Government
  44. Singo and Howard on Bureaucracy
  45. Singo and Howard on Corporate Capitalism
  46. The last words of Charles Russell
  47. Ted Noffs' Preface to Rip Van Australia
  48. Right-wing anarchists revamping libertarian ideology
  49. Giving a chukka to the Workers Party
  50. Govt "villain" in eyes of new party
  51. "A beautiful time to be starting a new party": Rand fans believe in every man for himself
  52. Introducing the new Workers' Party
  53. Paul Rackemann 1980 Progress Party Election Speech
  54. Lang Hancock 1978 George Negus Interview
  55. Voices of frustration
  56. Policies of Workers Party
  57. Party Promises to Abolish Tax
  58. AAA Tow Truck Co.
  59. Singo and Howard on Context
  60. Singo and Howard Blame Roosevelt for Pearl Harbour
  61. Singo and Howard on Apathy
  62. Workers Party is "not just a funny flash in the pan"
  63. Singo and Howard on Decency
  64. John Singleton in 1971 on the 2010 Federal Election
  65. Matthew, Mark, Luke & John Pty. Ltd. Advertising Agents
  66. Viv Forbes Wins 1986 Adam Smith Award
  67. The writing of the Workers Party platform and the differences between the 1975 Australian and American libertarian movements
  68. Who's Who in the Workers Party
  69. Bob Howard interviewed by Merilyn Giesekam on the Workers Party
  70. A Farewell to Armchair Critics
  71. Sukrit Sabhlok interviews Mark Tier
  72. David Russell Leads 1975 Workers Party Queensland Senate Team
  73. David Russell Workers Party Policy Speech on Brisbane TV
  74. Bludgers need not apply
  75. New party formed "to slash controls"
  76. The Workers Party
  77. Malcolm Turnbull says "the Workers party is a force to be reckoned with"
  78. The great consumer protection trick
  79. The "Workers" speak out
  80. How the whores pretend to be nuns
  81. The Workers Party is a Political Party
  82. Shit State Subsidised Socialist Schooling Should Cease Says Singo
  83. My Journey to Anarchy:
    From political and economic agnostic to anarchocapitalist
  84. Workers Party Reunion Intro
  85. Singo and Howard on Freedom from Government and Other Criminals
  86. Singo and Howard on Young People
  87. Singo and Howard Expose how Government Healthcare Controls Legislate Doctors into Slavery
  88. Singo and Howard Engage with Homosexuality
  89. Singo and Howard Demand Repeal of Libel and Slander Laws
  90. Singo and Howard on Consumer Protection
  91. Singo and Howard on Consistency
  92. Workers Party is born as foe of government
  93. Political branch formed
  94. Government seen by new party as evil
  95. Singo and Howard on Non-Interference
  96. Singo and Howard on Women's Lib
  97. Singo and Howard on Licences
  98. Singo and Howard on Gun Control
  99. Singo and Howard on Human Nature
  100. Singo and Howard on Voting
  101. Singo and Howard on
    Inherited Wealth
  102. Singo and Howard on Education
  103. Singo and Howard on Qualifications
  104. Ron Manners on the Workers Party
  105. Singo and Howard Hate Politicians
  106. Undeserved handouts make Australia the lucky country
  107. A happy story about Aborigines
  108. John Singleton on Political Advertising
  109. Richard Hall, Mike Stanton and Judith James on the Workers Party
  110. Singo Incites Civil Disobedience
  111. How John Singleton Would Make Tony Abbott Prime Minister
  112. The Discipline of Necessity
  113. John Singleton on the first election the Workers Party contested
  114. Libertarians: Radicals on the right
  115. The Bulletin on Maxwell Newton as Workers Party national spokesman on economics and politics
  116. Singo and Howard: Australia Should Pull Out of the Olympics
  117. Singo and Howard Like Foreign Investment
  118. Mark Tier corrects Nation Review on the Workers Party
  119. The impossible dream
  120. Why can't I get away with it?
  121. The bold and boring Lib/Lab shuffle
  122. Time for progress
  123. The loonie right implodes
  124. Max Newton: Maverick in Exile
  125. John Singleton on refusing to do business with criminals and economic illiterates
  126. Censorship should be banned
  127. "Listen, mate, a socialist is a bum"
  128. John Singleton on Advertising
  129. John Singleton on why he did the Hawke re-election campaign
  130. Sinclair Hill calls for dropping a neutron bomb on Canberra
  131. Bob Howard in Reason 1974-77
  132. John Singleton defends ockerism
  133. Singo and Howard talk Civil Disobedience
  134. The Census Con
  135. Singo and Howard Oppose Australian Participation in the Vietnam War
  136. Did John Singleton oppose the mining industry and privatising healthcare in 1990?
  137. Bob Carr in 1981 on John Singleton's political bent
  138. John Singleton-Ita Buttrose interview (1977)
  139. John Singleton on elections: "a Massive One-Day Sale!"
  140. John Hyde's Progress Party praise
  141. King Leonard of Hutt River Declares Defensive Just War Against Australia the Aggressor
  142. Singo says Lang Hancock violated Australia's 11th commandment: Thou Shalt Not Succeed
  143. Singleton: the White Knight of Ockerdom
  144. John Singleton bites into Sinclair Hill's beef
  145. Save Parramatta Road
  146. 1979 news item on new TV show John Singleton With a Lot of Help From His Friends
  147. Smoking, Health and Freedom
  148. Singo and Howard on Unions
  149. Singo and Howard Smash the State
  150. Singo and Howard on the big issue of Daylight Saving
  151. Come back Bob - It was all in fun!
  152. A few "chukkas" in the Senate for polo ace?
  153. Country Rejuvenation - Towards a Better Future
  154. Singo and Howard on Profits, Super Profits and Natural Disasters
  155. John Singleton's 1977 pitch that he be on a committee of one to run the Sydney 1988 Olympics for profit
  156. Thoughts on Land Ownership
  157. 1975 Max Newton-Ash Long interview on the Workers Party
  158. The Electoral Act should allow voters to choose "none of the above"
  159. The great Labor Party platform: first or last, everybody wins a prize
  160. The politics of marketing - laugh now, pay later
  161. Singo and Howard call Australia fascist and worse
  162. The mouse will roar
  163. Viv Forbes and Jim Fryar vs Malcolm Fraser in 1979
  164. Quip, Quote, Rant and Rave: four of Viv Forbes' letters to the editor in The Australian in 1979
  165. Australia's First Official Political Party Poet Laureate: The Progress Party's Ken Hood in 1979
  166. Hancock's playing very hard to get
  167. Harry M. Miller and The Australian disgrace themselves
  168. Ocker ad genius takes punt on art
  169. John Singleton 1976 ocker Monday Conference Max Harris debate
  170. John Singleton mocks university students on civil liberties and freedom of choice in 1971
  171. Murray Rothbard championed on Australian television in 1974 (pre-Workers Party!) by Maureen Nathan
  172. John Singleton profile in 1977 Australian MEN Vogue
  173. I think that I shall never see a telegraph pole as lovely as a tree
  174. Ralph Nader vs John Singleton on Consumer Protection
  175. John Singleton's first two "Think" columns in Newspaper News, 1969
  176. Singo and Howard on Ballet
  177. Product innovation comes first
  178. Protect who from a 'mindless' wife?
  179. A party is born
  180. Tiny Workers' Party gives us a hint
  181. John Singleton on the ad industry, consumerism and innovation
  182. Workers Party Economic Policy Statement, December 1975
  183. Lang Hancock on the Workers Party, secession and States Rights
  184. John Singleton and Howard on Government Largesse
  185. Counterculture must exclude government handouts
  186. John Singleton's 1974 Federal Liberal Election Campaign Ads
  187. John Singleton believes in the Workers Party
  188. Write-up of John Singleton's 1978 speech to the Australian Liberal Students Association
  189. Singo in 1987: "Joh doesn't go far enough ... I want absolute deregulation of the economy"
  190. Maxwell Newton chapter of Clyde Packer's No Return Ticket (1984)
  191. Singo and Howard on Totalitarian Socialism and Voluntary Socialism
  192. Rip Van Australia on Ripoff Vandals Taxing Australia
  193. Singo and Howard beg for tolerance
  194. John Singleton's 1985 advertising comeback
  195. Singo and Howard Demand End to Public Transport
  196. John Singleton and Howard on Fred Nile, Festival of Light, FamilyVoice Australia and the Christian Lobby
  197. Capitalism: Survival of the Fittest
  198. Return Australia Post to Sender
  199. Singo and Howard on Public Utilities
  200. John Singleton and Howard say monarchy should be funded by monarchists alone
  201. John Singleton on cigarette advertising
  202. Singo in 1972 on newspapers' demise
  203. John Singleton farewells Bryce Courtenay
  204. John Singleton on Australian political advertising in 1972
  205. Gortlam rides again
  206. Announcement that Lang Hancock will be guest of honour at the Workers Party launch
  207. John Singleton on trading stamps, idiot housewives and government
  208. 1975 John Singleton-Sir Robert Askin Quadrant Interview
  209. Singo asks two prickly questions
  211. Why John Singleton can't keep a straight face
  212. Why John Singleton Defends Smokers Rights
  213. Tony Dear on Paul Krutulis, the Workers Party and murder
  214. An Ode to Busybodies
  215. Progress Party and Workers Party lead The Australian
  216. How many tits in a tangle?
  217. Viv Forbes in 1978 on loss-making government, the Berlin Wall and misdirected blasts of hot-air
  218. John Singleton wants the Post Office sold and anti-discrimination legislation scrapped
  219. A speech from the Titanic
  220. A crime must have a victim
  221. John Singleton vs Australia Post
  222. Minimum wages the killer
  223. Has Fraser got his priorities all wrong?
  224. John Singleton says "the royal family should be flogged off to the U.S."
  225. John Singleton vs Don Chipp and the Australian Democrats
  226. John Singleton vs Don Lane
  227. John Singleton. Horseracing. Why?
  228. John Singleton's 1986 reflection on the Workers Party
  229. Bob Howard in 1978 on libertarianism in Australia
  230. John Singleton on the stupidity of anti-discrimination laws
  231. Thou shalt know the facts ... before thou shoot off thou mouth
  232. Charity: An Aesop Fable
  233. Bob Howard announces the Workers Party in freeEnterprise
  234. New improved moon
  235. Announcing people ... YES, people!
  236. Creativity in advertising must be pointed dead on target
  237. John Singleton on barriers to, and opportunities for, effective communication
  238. Wayne Garland on John Singleton on Advertising
  239. John Singleton schools ad course
  240. John Singleton: advertising awards
  241. Mr Singleton Goes to Canberra for Australian Playboy
  242. John Singleton on his TV career for Australian Playboy
  243. John Singleton sacked for telling the truth about Medicare
Powered by Hackadelic Sliding Notes 1.6.5