Image by infomatique via FlickrThe pattern with the government is the same from situation to situation.
1) They make something free
2) The market for private delivery of the same thing dries up. Those few that still want to pay must pay much more than they would have before the government started giving it away for free because the market has shrunk so much
3) The same thing happens to alternatives to the thing they made free
4) Decisions are now made by those delivering the process instead of the person choosing between the alternatives. Costs and benefits are no longer weighed together or by the person that cares about the outcome the most. Considerations easily described in resumes and sound bites become uber important
5) The corporations and unions move in and start influencing the decision makers, carving out expensive niches for themselves
6) Things that truly matter but aren't profitable for the politically connected fall by the wayside
7) People getting something free put up with it because ditching the free thing for same thing done right is now a super expensive alternative
8) Delivering the free thing grows more expensive, much faster than the rate of inflation
9) Eventually the tax payers fight back and the costs of delivering the thing are slashed, along with quality. The corporations and unions have to spend and/or threaten more to hang on to their protected positions.
10) Those getting the service for free now have to spend all their time at rallies and fine tuning the stories about how badly they're being treated.
Happens with health care. Happens with roads. Education. City services. Anything they give away for free or heavily subsidized.