Private Competition with the Public

The Denver Depressing Newspaper had a column by Ed Quillan about the recent Town Hall held here in Colorado by King Barry I and a comment that was made by one of the questioners of His Messiahness:

“How in the world can a private corporation providing insurance compete with an entity that does not have to worry about making a profit, does not have to pay local property taxes . . . ? How can a company compete with that?”

Of course The Teleprompter-in-Chief had already given his example of Federal Express and UPS competing profitably with the Post Office – except the law is set that they cannot compete with the Post Office in delivering regular type mail directly to the public.  Does anybody think that a) the Post Office will give up this monopoly in order to level the playing field? or b) that the Post Office would stand a chance if Fed Ex and UPS could really compete completely.

What you have with Fed Ex and UPS is a private company that can compete by offering a superior product (actual on-time delivery with the ability to track your packages, etc) which people will pay for in order to get the service they want.  I’m sure Ed can remember the time when you were prevented (not that an option didn’t exist, it was against the law) from sending anything other than with the Post Office.  And it was a drop off and pray that it might show up sometime and maybe would only be slightly crushed.  Track your package? – hear the postal employees laugh at you.

Which is not to say the government can’t learn from competition.  The Post Office does give you tracking and delivery times (well, within a day or two – not up to the level of a FedEx or UPS).  Ed, do you think the PO would have done this on its own?  <gales of laughter>

Then we move on to other examples from Ed:

Water: The cheapest bottled water I saw at the supermarket was the house brand at 99 cents per gallon. The Salida Municipal Utility Department delivers potable water to my kitchen for about 1/6 of a cent per gallon. Private water costs at least 600 times more than public.

So the public was taxed to put in place all the pipelines and infrastructure to deliver water to each house.  And after all that fleecing is done, they can deliver water for 1/6 cent per gallon.  Is the cost of all the infrastructure included in that price?  No – its already paid for.  Would any other water provider be given the right of way to install their own infrastructure to compete with what was already in place?  Of course not.

So instead they compete on a different playing field – bottling the water, marketing it, transporting it, selling it, and making a profit.  The fact that its water in both cases is not really comparing apples to apples.  Now, if the Salida Water Department was willing to compete in bottling and marketing and selling their water – then you would be able to see if the public and private can co-exist.  Again, my money would be on the private company wiping out the public one should that happen.

Education: Private schools (and home schooling) seem to compete just fine these days, despite all the tax support provided to public schools. Even my backwater county has two, one K-8 and the other K-12.

Here we start getting a little closer to a regular comparison,  but there is one little issue.  All those people sending their children to private school or doing it at home are FORCED to pay for the public schools that they don’t even use.  How about rebating back all the property taxes that they must pay – or be sent to jail – and then see how the public and private areas compete?  The public schools would go down the chute – or they would actually have to start educating their students instead of indoctrinating them in ecoNazism and Obama Worship.  But I would expect that most of them would simply go out of business if they had to compete on a level playing field.

Transportation: In cities, private taxis, limousines and shuttle vans co-exist with public buses, subways and streetcars.

Again, the public buses, subways, and streetcars (I guess this means Denver light rail) forcibly extract money from everyone – even those who don’t use the buses, subways or streetcars.  And then they provide horrible service, at inconvenient times, with an ever rising cost, and are continually complaining about how their budget is insufficient and even more must be beaten out of taxpayers.  Most of these “services” are really just pension boondoggles that are run for the convenience of the unions and employees.  Again, want to compete on a level playing field?  Actually have the people who use these systems pay the full cost of what it would take to transport them back and forth?

Again, the private option if it could compete on a truely level playing field would wipe out “public” transportation.  Which is why the government makes sure that a) the costs are hidden by spreading them to the huge number of people who don’t use the service and b) sets monopoly power to ensure there is not competition.

Electricity: Over the years, I have preferred dealing with private providers like Xcel, as opposed to municipal or co-op suppliers. Despite all those scary Reddy Kilowatt ads that I saw in my youth, warning that public power was Bolshevism or worse, the private electrical utilities appear to be thriving.

Can people in Salida actually choose between two different power providers?  Can anybody in America?  It would be interesting if people actually could choose between a government provider which was mandated to have 25% renewables and all the crap that keeps getting piled on electricity generators and a private company that just worked hard to get your electricity at the lowest price they could make a profit on.  Again, want to be who wins?

But the whole false dicotomy set up here, is that in none of these examples mail, transportation, water, electricity is there the government mandate (i.e. do this or go to jail) that is in the health care bills.  You MUST have health insurance or the IRS will deduct it out of your bank account.  Your employer MUST provide health insurance that meets the standards of some government twit or they will be fined 8% of payroll costs.

The fact that they want to stack the deck so that almost all small businesses will just dump their private insurance and pay the 8% fine and have to leave their employees to the tender mercies of the benevolent government bureaucrats.  And that they will then (later of course, the details always come later) tax the crap out of anybody who still has private insurance and force them into the public plan too.

We know that all of the “government” services couldn’t compete with the private sector without the playing field being stacked in the government’s favor.  And we also know that the public health option will be exactly the same thing.

And putting the actual control of life and death in the hands of a government–any government–isn’t freedom.  Its serfdom.

P.S.  Being a good liberal Ed had to snark at the start and end of his article about the guy who asked the question:

The student, Zach Lahn, was an aide to state Sen. Greg Brophy, a Wray Republican, although he did not so identify himself.

Apparently only Democrat aides and plants and ACORN members get to identify themselves as they wish (and he is a college student), not Republicans.  And then the lovely hit at religion:

To address Zach Lahn’s question, private companies do find profitable ways to compete with public options. Now here’s a question for him. On Twitter, he identifies himself as a “determined Christian conservative.” So where in the Bible does the Gospel-writer Luke, a physician, criticize Jesus for unfairly competing by healing a woman who “had suffered under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse,” as well as the blind, lame and leprous, all at no charge?

Jesus also didn’t demand that 50% of your money which is what we know “free” healthcare will cost us through the government.  You know they are down to the bottom of the barrel when liberals start talking about Jesus.  I mean as a positive thing.

Michelle Obama – Education Hypocrite

The new First Lady was at the Department of Education yesterday saying stupid things like these:

“So many of you have been here struggling and pushing for decades and Barack and I want to say ‘thank you’ for what you’ve done and ‘thank you’ for what you will continue to do,” she told 350 employees who filled a department auditorium to capacity. “But we also know that there are new faces coming into this work and we want to welcome you and thank you for the hard work that you’re going to put in.”

“There’s a lot of work to do and we’re going to need you,” Mrs. Obama said. “The children of this country are counting on all of us.”

In thanking the workers, she told them: “I am a product of your work.”

“I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the public schools that nurtured me and helped me along,” said Mrs. Obama, a Chicago native who attended its public schools as a child. Her two daughters attend private school in Washington, as they did in Chicago.

Emphasis mine.  Would anybody who believes that the Federal Department of Education is doing a good job raise their hands?  [chirping crickets]  I thought so.  If the Department of Education is doing such a good job, and if public education is so wonderful why doesn’t The First Lady entrust the education of her daughters to its tender mercies?

Because she knows that the public education system has deteriorated into a psycho-babble jungle of feel-goodism that gives children lots of self-esteem and very little actual knowledge.  And that is at the best it can do today.  At its worst its just a voluntary incarceration system for inner-city thugs who need time to sleep in between robbing and raping their fellow students.

The Department of Education is peopled by lots of academics who spent their entire lives at university getting degrees in circular logic and fatuousness (Education Degrees) who then glom onto the public teat even harder at the Federal Government level.  Do any of these people actually give two hoots about educating children?  Oh sure, but that comes after bitching about how much more money governments at every level should throw at them and their fellow teachers unions, backstabbing any Republican initiative, complaining about how difficult it is to give tests to students (which would show the failure of the education system), and increasing their benefits and pensions.

But we do believe you when you say this Mrs. Obama:

But truthfully, my task here is to say thank you and roll up your sleeves, because we have a lot of work to do.

Indoctrinating a new generation of illiterate community organizers is the real job here, isn’t it?

Go forth and indoctrinate!

Go forth and indoctrinate!

Left Coast Loonies

Want to know why California is absolutely idiotic when it comes to taxes?  How about this one:

A drop in property tax revenue wallops the state, because it is obligated to make up any significant loss to the schools. The Legislative Analyst’s Office projects the state will have to pony up almost $1.5 billion to K-14 schools over the next three years to compensate for declining property taxes. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has already said the state will have to make up $430 million this year for school funding because property taxes have lagged projections.

“That $430 million in essence will get built into every year going forward,” Ross said. “More school costs will shift onto the state.”

Emphasis added by me.  So if houses start losing value, the schools don’t even have to worry.  The state MUST make up any funding difference.  Now this might be just a question from somebody looking at things from a sane level, but if the teachers and the administrators know that they are guaranteed more money – every single fracking year – do they really have any incentive to review their operations and look for how things might be made more efficient and cost-effective?

And this tax burden goes to the state and then next year its that – plus the shortfall in property taxes next year, and the next year and the next year.  Does anybody think this is a system that is setup to fail unless you have continually increasing home values?  I certainly do.  But even then Prop 13 doesn’t allow the government theives to re-value your house until you sell it.  This was the practice that was forcing retirees and people who didn’t get 15% annual wage increases out of their homes.   And, of course, the one thing that the government employees want is to get rid of Prop 13:

“Maybe we need to revisit not just Prop. 13 but our entire funding formula for local government,” he said. “As bad as it gets, that’s when it forces people to think and to move outside their comfort level and outside the box to address the crisis. Maybe we need to revisit these antiquated ways in which we deal with revenue streams to local government. At some point, it’s going to take an initiative, and it would have to be one from the people. It took an initiative for Prop. 13, and it’s going to take one again.”

Can’t let these crises go to waste, eh?

Talking About Hunting Is Verboten

Just when you think the weenie factor of Vermont couldn’t get any higher, there is this:

BENNINGTON — Saying their son was “silenced” by his teacher for talking about hunting in the classroom, the parents of a fourth-grade student at North Bennington Graded School took their son out of school and have taken their case to the local school board.

Jared Harrington’s mother, Wendy Bordwell, and his father, Martin Harrington, removed their son from school with 10 days left in the school year and home-schooled the 10-year-old boy.

I think they might be on to something about their kid being singled out by the teacher:
Bordwell said in a telephone interview that she believed her son was “singled out” by Kathleen Backus, Jared’s teacher, while talking about hunting with a schoolmate.

Bordwell said that, during snack time, Jared was discussing the recent spring turkey hunting season with a classmate when Backus interrupted the conversation, insisting that there be no talk of “killing” in her classroom.

“The breaking point for us, his parents, came when Jared was sharing a conversation during his free period snack time at school. He was talking with a friend about the recent spring 2008 turkey season. Both boys had been out hunting with their dads and Jared was asking his friend where he had gotten his first turkey.
“Jared’s teacher covered her ears, trying to block the conversation, and singing ‘la la la la.’ When asked by another school employee about her odd behavior, the teacher claimed she did not want to hear about the boys and their ‘killing.’ The boys were left feeling that they were not legitimate hunters, but ‘killers’ in the eyes of an important authority figure in their lives,” Bordwell said.

What?  I can't hear you.  La La La La La

What? I can't hear you. La La La La La

What a wonderful and adult thing for a teacher to do.  Standing around with her fingers in her ears.  It seems like his parents made a good choice to home school their child.  After all, this supposed adult only retaliated against an 11 year old boy by:


After Jared’s parents decided to take up the matter with the school board, Backus assigned 137 pages of homework for the boy.
Especially with this little zinger from the school principal:

School Principal Thomas Martin said he is confident the administration and the school board “can reach a reasonable understanding” among the parties involved in the matter.
“It’s not a huge issue,” Martin said in an interview. “Marty is a good kid and Kathleen is a good teacher. The focus is on the kid. We want to try to meet his needs. Kathy cares a great deal about kids. She’s troubled a great deal about this.”

Martin said the issue is neither “black and white or right and wrong. It’s more complicated than that. It’s brushing up against a number of things that are important to a lot of people and issues relating to the classroom. Emotions start to feed into it when people’s belief systems come into play,” he said.

Defending this teacher by saying this issue isn’t right or wrong?  There’s the American education system bringing down our civilization.

So What Next? Personal Sugar Monitors?

In typical governmental/bureaucratic fashion, we find yet another idiot policy that was implemented – it has no apparent effect – and the answer is to keep on doing what doesn’t work:

Policies that rid Maine high schools of sugary drinks seem to have had little impact on teenagers’ overall intake of sugar-laden beverages, according to a new study.

The study compared four high schools that eliminated soda and other sugar-sweetened drinks from cafeterias and vending machines with three schools that did not take such measures.

Researchers found that over one school year, students in both groups of schools cut down on their average daily intake of sugary drinks — but there was no evidence that the school soda bans led to greater reductions.

Seems like teenagers know how to get sodas and if they aren’t present in school they still will be able to satisfy their thirst as they wish.  Pretty straightforward application of logical thinking supported by research findings.

And the answer from the school ‘administrators’?

Lead researcher Dr. Janet E. Whatley Blum said she would not conclude that such school policies are “ineffective” based on these findings.

Students’ consumption of sweet drinks did go down, she told Reuters Health; the study just failed to find a statistically significant difference between schools that cut back on sweetened beverages and those that did not.

Boiled down to its essence, this answer means “we didn’t find what we wanted, but that doesn’t prove anything.  We are still sure we are right”.

And some hugely interesting afterhtought seems to have come to the nanny-state researcher:

On average, the study found, students at both groups of schools curbed their intake of sugary beverages to a similar degree over the school year.

According to Blum, keeping such drinks out of teenagers’ reach during school hours may not be enough.

“School appears to be just one source of sugar-sweetened beverages for youth,” she said, “and it may be that an educational component…is needed to have an effect on consumption from sources other than school.”

Do you actually mean parents might have an influence on their children’s consumption of beverages?  Knock me over with a feather.

But don’t look to find any soda dispensers in those Maine schools – ever again.  Nanny has spoken and even if they have to do this study over again 1000 times, they will eventually get the results that prove what they want.