But the NHS should be charged for the use of a parking space

Outrage as our beloved National Health Service - that national religion - is charged for the use of a parking space. The problem here being that yes, of course the NHS should be charged for the use of a scarce resource like a parking space:

A council has faced a backlash for charging a mobile NHS breast cancer screening unit £1,500 for parking, with patients saying the fees are "disgusting".

Cornwall Council issued the bill after a lorry used to offer routine mammograms to women aged 50-71 stayed in a car park in Liskeard for six months last year.

After the figure emerged, the local authority said it no longer charges the NHS vehicle for parking following a "recent review".

One patient described the parking fees as "disgusting", adding: "The NHS is facing a funding crisis, the hospital is on black alert and health workers are struggling.

As everyone who has ever used one knows space in a parking lot is a scarce resource. Scarce resources should be charged for. The reason being that only when they are do we get the optimal use of them.

Sure, the NHS is “government funded” as is the local council so it can seem a bit odd that one arm of government charges the other. But even - perhaps especially - here the pricing structure tells us the optimal distribution of those resources.

We do this in other areas too. The Ministry of Defence needs spectrum so that it can run radio systems. That spectrum has other uses - say, mobile phones or mobile internet. So, we charge the MoD for the spectrum they use. Of course, the grant to the MoD now includes the costs of that spectrum, it’s all a bit round and round in circles. But it does still concentrate minds at the MoD as to which spectrum it really needs, how much of it.

The Americans do not so charge the Department of Defence for its spectrum allocation and it looks like the US is going to end up on a different - and worse - 5G standard from the rest of the world as a result. Without the relative values of DoD and 5G uses being expressed as plain $ numbers it’s not made obvious that cost of DoD’s squatting.

Prices actually matter, they’re information, everyone should be charged them. Even if we then subsidise people to pay them, we still need the information about resource allocation that the price system brings us.