Public ownership is a central principle of the welfare state. It is the idea that the government should have the ability to own property, which could include: land, businesses, products, ideas, etc. For example, in the United States, Amtrak is partially funded by the federal government. Amtrak is a nation-wide rail service that allows passengers to travel the United States by railroad. A central argument for government ownership is the idea that the government should ensure the continuation of an essential service, such as transportation. The hope is that public ownership of the business will help control prices for average consumers while also providing a service that, if it failed, would be harmful to the citizens of the country. For instance, in Canada, Canada Post is a government run mail service that exists to ensure that all citizens of Canada have access to relatively inexpensive and reliable mail delivery. The inclusion of public ownership in the welfare state does not mean that private ownership is denied. For example, while Canada operates Canada Post, other mail delivery businesses also operate in the country, including: UPS and Purolator. Therefore, the welfare state includes both principles as a means of balancing services within the country for all citizens
The concept of competition is often linked the ideas and writings of Adam Smith, who was a famous economic theorist in the 18th century. In his most famous work, titled Wealth of Nations (1776), Smith argued against the principles of mercantilism, including excessive government intervention in the economy. Instead, he argued for economic freedom based upon the ideas of free trade and competition. He believed that competition between producers would ultimately benefit the whole economy. Furthermore, he linked the importance of competition with the concept of supply and demand and argued that instead of government intervention in the economy, the prices and wages should be set by the market forces. He explained this idea as the invisible hand. Regardless, Smith's idea of competition transformed the economy of the 19th century and caused it to shift to the right.