July 03, 2009

A Tico view on nationalization

Here in Costa Rica many things are ... "socialized." Healthcare is, although there is a private option. It seems to work OK; the country is small enough (about the size of West Virginia, pop. of about seven million) although there are taxes out the wazoo here. (Americans -- watch your tipping habits. There is a "service tax" at restaurants and bars, 'tho waiters and bartenders sure won't turn away additional "propinas," or tips.)

One thing that many Costa Ricans wouldn't mind changing, however, is the immense power/telephone monopoly of I.C.E. (Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad). It maintains power, telephone and Internet services. Those of you old enough, try to recall how service sucked when AT&T was the only game in town in the 70s and early 80s. Or, recall when Rollins Cable was the sole cable provider in New Castle County. That's how it is here. Many Ticos crave just a little competition so that service would improve and prices would drop. But that's not likely to happen anytime soon. Why? The I.C.E. union is the most powerful in the country. Any time there has been even a hint of privatization, the union threatens a strike -- or will actually do it -- and they paralyze the country.

I just think of the jobs, economic growth and price drops that could occur if this union stranglehold was busted.

Posted by Hube at July 3, 2009 10:50 AM | TrackBack

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