People very well were being killed by employers when we lacked any sort of regulation for working conditions. The Jungle was not about where you meat comes from.
Government can do a great job, this insistance that it can only do mediocre work is why it does mediocre work. People who elect those who say things like this are insane, would you hire a worker who stated your company could only do mediocre work? If you want to see an excellent job being done by government go to places where they expect that from government. They do pay more in taxes though.
Public road alternatives all suck. They end up being like the toll roads in Texas. Built with taxpayer money, sold to some politically connected jerk, and never repaired. Once the road is unusable the company that owns that single road folds and goes into bankruptcy leaving the government to again fix the road.