Monopoly vs competition in education

Date:           26 June 15
By:              Frank Gue, B.Sc., MBA, P.Eng.,
                   2252 Joyce St.,
                   Burlington, ON L7R 2B5
For:             Lee Prokaska,     The Spec
Re:              “Choices in education” and “car insurance”, June 25 Spec

Dear Lee:

On the same page, one author explains how to get us out of the toils of a vast, inefficient, ineffective government monopoly (education), while another author explains how to get us into the toils of a vast, inefficient, ineffective government monopoly (car insurance).
Three cheers for the clear insight of the former, regretful rejection of the well-meant but misguided advice of the latter.
History teaches that big government monopolies (health care, education, Hydro, etc.) become low-performing, expensive disasters; while private, competitive providers of the same services typically deliver far higher, quicker, less expensive quality.  Sadly, however, these better services are available only to folk who can afford (and to some who cannot afford, but pay only at heavy sacrifice of modest family incomes) to pay twice for them, once through taxes and again to the private provider.
In the case of car insurance, part of the answer is transparency: competing companies must advertise their products, prices, and quality so that the consumer can choose intelligently.  The recent emergence of companies advertising electronic devices to make discounts available to careful drivers, who avoid riding gas and brakes as they drive, is a significant step in that direction.
In the case of health care, it has been suggested that one should dress up as a cat and go to a veterinarian, where the quality and promptness of competitive service can be an order of magnitude better than provided by the public service.  More seriously, we need only release our private health care providers (yes, we have some) from the handcuffs of government regulation and diktats.
None of this is to criticize front-line teachers, doctors, and their likes, the majority of whom are dedicated and caring but are prisoners, as we are, of  complacent, unimaginative, centralized, bureaucratic government monopolies.

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