Thomas Skadeland: Abolish The Public Service Commission


It is my belief that all areas of oversight and regulation administered by the North Dakota Public Service Commission can and should be forfeited to pure free market processes and managed by private sector participants. I believe the free market, when allowed to function without artificial interference, is able to coordinate and allocate all goods and services to their most valuable ends. Unfortunately, a majority of people today have an automatic negative view of the free market and a misunderstanding of how it works.

The free market is simply the process of property owners exchanging goods or services to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes; that’s it. Any interference in this process disrupts the natural order of peaceful exchange in a society. This interference is both economically and ethically objectionable.

The areas of the P.S.C. jurisdiction are extensive and comical.

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]It is my belief that any service currently provided by the P.S.C. would be more efficiently met through free market competition between property owners.[/mks_pullquote]

The P.S.C. claims jurisdiction over abandoned land mines, auctions, coal mines, damage prevention, electric & gas services, grain, pipelines, railroads, siting, telecommunications, and weights & measures. Services regarding each field are important and, in most cases, essential but I do not believe that the Public Service Commission of North Dakota is the only possible or most productive form of management. It is my belief that any service currently provided by the P.S.C. would be more efficiently met through free market competition between property owners.

A distinction should be made between private and “public” services. Private services are provided by voluntary exchange whereas “public” services are provided by bureaucratic management and taxation. In order for a private sector business to succeed it must provide goods or services that meet the demands of the consumer while earning a profit to cover expenses and for future investment. If profits cannot cover the expenses of a business it must review and adapt to consumer demand or go out of business.

It is this profit and loss mechanism that guides success in the private sector. In contrast, the public sector is incapable of judging its rate of success because there is no price system calculating profit and loss. Without the profit and loss system there is no feedback from the consumer so it is impossible to know if public goods and services are being efficiently managed. It is my belief that all goods and services can and should be provided through voluntary practices because this is the most economically beneficial and ethically superior system of social order.

Essentially, I am in favor of seeing the Public Service Commission abolished, however I realize this cannot be done overnight and would require a transitional process. This transition would take time and a drastic change in the public understanding of free-markets, property rights, and voluntarism. I am confident in these ideas and believe they are the way to a truly peaceful and prosperous society. If elected, I will be a principled advocate of property rights and voluntary contracts.