“Public schools save on advertising.”
That exact phrase is what I heard a teacher say the other day during a discussion of the merits, and demerits, of public education, charter schools, and private education.
Stunned at the statement, and now looking back – I suppose it is technically correct.
However, saying that an advantage of public schools is that they save the cost of advertising says nothing of real value – unless value can be placed on revealing the economic ignorance of the speaker.
I could just as easily, and just as correctly, say that North Korea and Kim Jong “save” the cost of the periodical political campaign.
No. Really. It’s true.
According to the Politico, $5.3 billion was spent on the 2008 campaign for President of the United States. That is enough money to give 106,000 people a check for $50,000. We could “create” all kinds of jobs with that kind of money. Or, just think how many schools we could build for $5.3 billion!
So, although you may prefer a different brand – no one can completely deny that Crest toothpaste is overall a good product.
What if we just let Crest make all of the toothpaste? Think of the money they would save not having to advertise! Then with that savings, Crest could pass it on to the customer, the price of toothpaste would come down, and toothpaste would be cheaper for everyone!
Does anyone really believe the two above examples? If not, why do we swallow the same rationale with education. Clearly, this line of reasoning is flawed.
Education is different you say? How so? Education may be different than other consumer goods, in that it is consumed by more people over a longer time, but consuming education does not negate human nature – or economics.
I have heard the same argument about “profits”.
The rationale goes that private companies have to charge more because they need profits to survive. Public enterprises don’t need profits – so them providing the same service would be cheaper. However, most people following this line of reasoning are not usually looking for a rational discussion of costs, benefits, and economic incentives – instead, they are demonizing “profits” and the “evil greed” that accompanies it.
On greed, economist Dr. Walter Williams notes:
It’s popular to condemn greed, but it’s greed that gets wonderful things done. When I say greed, I don’t mean stealing, fraud, misrepresentation or other forms of dishonesty. I mean people trying to get as much as they can for themselves.
We don’t give second thought to the many wonderful things others do for us. Detroit assembly-line workers get up at the crack of dawn to produce the car you enjoy. Farm workers toil in the blazing sun gathering grapes for our wine. Snowplow drivers brave blizzards just so we can have access to our roads.
Do you think these people make these personal sacrifices because they care about us? My bet is they don’t give a hoot. Instead, they along with their bosses do these wonderful things for us because they want more for themselves.
The truth is: Incentives matter. Bureaucracies are wasteful. Competition lowers prices. And private enterprises are run better – and cheaper – than public ones.
Which do you prefer? The Post Office, the Department of Motor Vehicles, the VA Hospital, public libraries, and public schools? Or, does Federal Express, your cell phone company, your personal doctor, private libraries, and private schools sound like a better option?
The answer is evident.
The point is: Government monopolies cost more than private enterprising competition – and offer an inferior product.
As is always the case, this is also true in education.