Public utilities

Public utilities include but are not limited to:

  • Social housing
  • Gas
  • Water
  • Electricity
  • Garbage collection
  • Police and justice system
  • Fire departments
  • Prisons
  • Healthcare
  • Public transport
  • Education
  • Infrastructure
  • Banking/Insurance
  • Internet
  • Excavation of natural resources like oil, gas, and minerals


There are some things in society that we call ‘public utilities’. These are things that a society cannot do without.

One thing that recently came up was that certain banks turned out to be ‘too big to fail’. If they are too big to fail, they are a public utility and need to be nationalised. This has to do with accountability. If a bank needs the government to ‘save’ them because society cannot do without it, then the managers need to report to the government, who are democratically elected and accountible to the public, usually via press. Right now the banks are not accountable to anyone, but the results of their work might imply that the government needs to step in again. That is wrong. Some people feel the big banks need to be split up, but that is not the solution as system-wide failures might occur again. In the past, these were covered by the reserves of the insurance companies, but they merged with the banks who lent out their money. Again, this calls for nationalisation so the press can hold the managers accountable on behalf of the public. As in ‘public utility’.

The comparison with smartphones is a bad one, as smartphones are not a public utility.

Something which seems to have turned itself into a public utility is internet. Like gas, water, and electricity, we now also need internet. So it has become a public utility and the government needs to nationalise internet companies.

The reason why excavation of natural resources needs to be a public utility is because it works very well in a country like Norway, whereas American influence in South America has made it impossible to implement this on that continent, even though the local population does prefer it for reasons which I shouldn’t have to explain.

© Koos Swart 2013