America, Feast Your Eyes On Our Future

One thing I noticed while traveling in Europe is how rude so many waiters were (at least on the Continent) compared with the U.S. Why? Not because Europeans are ruder by nature, but because of lack of market forces in restaurants – i.e. the tip is written into the price of the meal, so what incentive does the waiter have to be nice?

It’s a similar phenomenon in European hospitals: lack of market forces. With heavily unionized government healthcare workers, doing such-and-such like fetching a glass of water isn’t part of their contract, so why do it? (See “Dying Patient Refused a Glass of Water“.) And they likely have little fear of being fired, thanks to their government employees union. So why provide good service?

Lack of market forces in restaurants? Trivial consequences. In hospitals? Tragic consequences.