I think she meant that it is hard for people with bad or no philosophy to see obvious flaws in government programs or state run monopolies which is absolutely true. I find that the sentiment that a nationalized business is fine or not obviously bad is very common, and it leads to a crucial principle. This essential principle was explained by Henry Hazlitt in his famous book Economics In One Lesson (which is an absolute must read and which echoes the same point made much earlier by the 19th century economist Frederic Bastiat) which is that people often only consider the direct result of an action and do not consider the action that did NOT occur. Hazlitt uses this principle to examine dozens of common economic fallacies.
It doesn't seem that obvious to me that our road conditions are a manifestation of socialism. I think most government interference is very evident, though, for rational people who know about any given industry.
For example, he starts with an example of someone who throws a brick through a store window which causes the store owner to replace the window with glass. Observers witnessing this conclude that throwing bricks through windows is "good" for the economy since it added revenue to the glass maker's business. Of course, if the store owner had NOT had to spend the money on new glass he would have spent the money somewhere else. So the glass makers benefit was the store owner's (and other businessman's) loss. There is no "net gain" to the economy from throwing bricks through windows. If you think this example is ridiculous, how many people claim that World War II was "good" for the American economy? In fact, isn't Obama telling us right now that "public works" will be good for the economy and that environmental regulations will improve the economy because it will create "green" jobs? This fallacy is everywhere.
The same principle can be applied to roads, airports, public transportation, utilities, education, mail, and any other activity that the government has taken over which should be performed by the free market. Let's take the roads for example.
Since we literally see the government roads, often in decent condition, one might conclude that the government is doing a pretty good job. After all, you drive on the road and your car usually doesn't fall through, etc. What is not seen is what would exist had the government NOT monopolized road construction. Some of what is not there we can imagine, but most often it can not be imagined since we have no idea what the profit motive would have led private individuals to build.
In the case of roads, I believe that government failure is absolutely obvious. Government roads are a literal disaster.
In particular, consider a traffic “jam”. Such an instance is a daily routine for millions of people and has become accepted practice. When you wait in traffic, you are waiting in a government line to use a government road just as you might wait in line at a government subsidized hospital, the post office or the motor vehicle department. The fact that people have become conditioned to accept the traffic jam is a frightening development and conjures the image of mindless hordes waiting for their ration of bread at a Soviet distribution center.
There is no need for a shortage of roads. The traffic jam represents an economic "shortage" in the sense that the supply of roads is artificially restricted relative to the demand. First, the government does not charge a fee to use its service nor does it charge a higher price when demand is at its peak (like a hotel raising rates when a convention is in town). Furthermore, the government is not motivated by profit to supply more roads so the supply constantly is overwhelmed by demand. On top of that, state and federal environmental regulations restrict the construction of new roads even if a local government was inclined to build more. Instead of building more roads, the government's response to increasing demand has been to mandate "carpool" lanes and put up billboards urging its customers (drivers) not to use its product by carpooling or by driving less. Could you imagine any private business faced with overwhelming demand urging its customers to buy less of its product? If lines form around the block for a particular product, how long would it take private business to supply enough of the product to satisfy demand?
The rampant occurrence of road shortages in virtually every city is certainly a manifestation of socialism as is the general quality of many highways especially in large cities that in some cases are barely passable and outright dangerous. The issue of road "supply" is the same problem that any business faces when it needs to expand its supply. If land is not available adjacent to a road then why not build underground and have multiple layers of roads (one for express traffic and one for local traffic)? It is possible that road suppliers could partner with car makers and build a car that drives automatically based on new technology. Why are semi-trucks allowed to drive on the same highway that motorcycles and cars use? Shouldn't larger vehicles have their own lanes? Wouldn't that be safer? This is just a start. We can not imagine the innovations that would take place if roads were privately owned.
The problem of not focusing on what is NOT happening is especially acute in cases where the government has monopolized a business for so long that no one can imagine an alternative. It would be like if the government had nationalized the pizza business 100 years ago and everyone was used to State Pizza. If someone proposed privatizing pizza you could just imagine the objections: State Pizza is pretty good already - if we privatize, then only the rich will be able to afford pizza, what about the employees of the state pizza unions, they will be unemployed, what about people in rural communities, they won't get pizza unless the state provides it, etc.
The most important take away from this is: in order to understand the consequences of government action, do not just look at what it does directly. Imagine what could have happened and what did not happen as a result of government action.