Difference between public and private goods and services

Economics is called goods and services to all the processes and human efforts that have as their ultimate goal to meet the needs of an individual, a community or the entire species.They are usually managed as a joint category in macroeconomic or social planning terms, but they represent two distinct segments, although not disconnected from human activity in societies.

Difference between public and private goods and services

The public goods and services are those that do not belong to any particular entity or organization of society, but can be enjoyed by all citizens and are therefore administered by the State , as part of the res public.

In this, they are mainly distinguished from private goods and services , which are the assets of private entities and associations or individuals , or, in the case of services, they are offered by them.

In fact, public goods are not disposable, except for political decisions agreed by State agencies ( privatization ). And even then it is usually something difficult to accept by the people.

It is normal for public services, for example, to have social or established access rates not based on the accumulation of capital ( profit ), but on the mere sustainability of the service, to make it more accessible to everyone. In some countries such services are even free. In contrast, private services are intended to be economically profitable : enrich those who exercise them and allow them to accumulate individual capital.

Types of public services

A distinction is made between two types of public goods and services, namely:

  • Severable . Those that can be distributed among the population, that is, that each individual or group can consume a certain and measurable amount, for example, income taxes.
  • Indivisible . Those services that are provided to the entire population equally and that their consumption does not exhaust the available stock of it. An example of this are consular services.

Examples of public goods

  1. Road infrastructure . The roads, highways and other public infrastructure that connects the different corners of a country are usually owned by the State, even when the administration and maintenance is transferred to a private company. But since they are real estate, which cannot be removed, they are public property and there are usually ministries responsible for them.
  2. The radio spectrum . The radio spectrum of a country, through which the various radio and television waves are emitted, is an irrevocably public good, the exploitation of which occurs when the State grants concessions to private companies to transmit their respective programming.
  3. The war material . The vehicles, weapons of war, uniforms and other supplies required by the military institution, in charge of defending territorial sovereignty, are inalienable assets of the State.
  4. Police patrols and fire vehicles . Just as these organizations are normally part of public services, their work implements and special vehicles are part of the State’s assets.
  5. The national airspace. No one in any country can buy the air or the heavens, which are goods, by calling them in some way, belonging only to the State. That is why when a plane enters the skies of another country, it is subject to the laws of that territory.
  6. Public spaces . The memorial sites, the squares, the presidential house, the public parks and all the assets of the national community are public property.
  7. The natural reserves . Forest reserves and large protected forests, National Parks and all their land are owned by the State and are usually never for sale, as in many cases they are even World Heritage Sites.
  8. The assets of public companies . Everything that is the patrimony of some State company will necessarily be public property as well. Thus, all the desks of a Ministry are usually from the State and do not belong to any isolated individual.
  9. Public funds . The money (physical bills and coins) of a country, while representing public and private wealth without distinction, is the material property of the exclusive State. That is why one cannot issue their own tickets, since they do not belong only to us but to the entire community of the country.
  10. The copyright . Once a certain period of time has elapsed, the extent of which varies according to the legislation of the countries, the author’s rights of works of art, literature, music or of any kind become part of the national heritage and, by extension, of humanity.

Examples of public services

  1. Electricity . In many countries it is normal for the electricity company to be the sole or majority property of the state. Thus, more friendly electricity rates can be offered to the population and this essential basic service for contemporary life can be controlled politically.
  2. Identification and immigration . The issuance of passports, identity cards, cards and all kinds of identification documents for nationals or foreigners residing or in transit in the territory of a country, is an exclusively public service that is handled by the appropriate state offices.
  3. Consular representation . All citizens of a country that live in a foreign nation are legally and logistically represented by an embassy, ​​a consulate and various diplomatic bodies that offer bureaucratic, legal and even public assistance to a national emergency.
  4. Documentation legalization . The certification of the originality of certain legal documents, such as contracts, academic degrees, etc., take place under the eyes of the State. Various public entities are responsible for attesting in writing the originality of said documents or certifying their signature, acting as guarantor of equanimity.
  5. Judicial work . Judicial processes, whether civil, criminal, constitutional or of any kind, are the sole responsibility of the State, so it is a service that it provides to its citizens, in order to safeguard the fulfillment of their rights and duties, to ensure the legal framework and The legal rules of the game.
  6. Running water . This service is also usually public in many countries, except those that have suffered privatization waves. This is because the services essential for urban life, such as electricity or water, directly affect the minimum well-being of the population and their human rights, so they should not be in the hands of private organizations.
  7. Postal mail . All countries have a postal mail in the hands of the State, that is, public, as well as private post offices that compete with it. State mail, despite being in disuse, is often also considered a service of first necessity.
  8. Public health . A hot topic in some countries, since it is often debated whether state resources are enough to attend to all the inhabitants who have a health emergency without charging them or charging them social fees. In any case, this service is activated when there are public health emergencies, such as epidemics, and is part of the State’s mechanisms to contain it.
  9. Police . Public security watchmen are almost never part of private companies, although there are also some dedicated to the field. But the police forces of the State are part of a service provided to the population to guarantee their safety.
  10. Firefighters . Like the police, firefighters are part of the public emergency and fire fighting service that every nation requires to ensure the lives of its citizens.
by Abdullah Sam
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