Public vs. Private – The Promotion

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the seriesPUBLIC vs PRIVATE Series

The Public vs. Private series will look at this these topics related the structure of our economy and, specifically, the relative roles of government and industry in the delivery of goods and services. The series will consist of a number of articles that ask the reader to provide his/her perspectives, experiences, and suggestions.

Introduction

Before America’s independence from Great Britain, the foundations had been laid to structure our economy around capitalism principles.

All too often, Americans find ourselves hurling accusations at economists a social activists, and politicians who promote a certain societal arrangement that does not comport with the philosophies we hold.

Labeling someone a “socialist” for a bent towards fairness less economic disparity is as egregious as labeling another a “greedy capitalist” for espousing prosperity. Such accusations arise out of myths and misunderstandings as well as nuances that we conveniently neglect when positing the virtues of one economic system over another.

Why Explore This Topic

There are a number of reasons why discussing the roles of public-  and private-sector providers are particularly useful at this time:

  1. Fiscal Policy. Efforts to pull our nation out of its fiscal woes will necessarily change the ways in which certain goods and services are delivered. This includes, but is not limited to, converting public responsibilities to those private. As an example, Washington is considering the establishing of an Infrastructure Bank to stimulate development, repair, and management of our nation’s roads, bridges, and other physical assets. The public will be called upon to determine its support of this an other ideas as they come with myriad implications e.g., costs, risks, customer service, etc.
  2. Economic Policy. In addition to fiscal concerns, federal, state, and local governments are wrestling with the appropriate level of reliance to place of public output to assist American households during a sluggish economy. These concerns transcend our fiscal problems. That is, even when budgets are balanced, our societal must continue to seek the right balance between public and private outputs. We might, for instance, ask  about the role of non-government sources (e.g., religious organizations) to fill the vacuum of providing shelter, clothing, food, and other necessities to poor families. Similarly, we see a host of examples where the private sector is increasingly stepping-up to augment everything from educational programs to disaster relief.
  3. Value Proposition. One of our chief interests is to yield the best “value” for American citizens across all areas of society. Here, we must ask, “From which source does a consumer receive the best good or service per dollar of expenditure?” Government and the private sectors are effectively competitors and Americans are prudent to decide which provider(s) best serve their interests. One can argue that much of the healthcare reform debate — namely, the Public Option — was centered around this question. Another example is the recent transference of NASA’s Lunar Program to corporate providers.

The growth of our economy, pursuit of more improved fiscal conditions, and commitment to America’s high standard of living cause us to take inventory not only or what we produce/consumer but also how we make these things available.

A Word on Labels

As mentioned above, discussing the proper roles of government and industry invariably to name-calling, indictments, and divisive language. Neither serves the mission of this forum or those who participate in the discussions. For purposes of a rich discussion, I am promoting any dogma, but simply make the following distinctions three major economic systems:

  • Capitalism. Relies primarily on private ownership or resources, profit, and private wealth to drive economic activity. Capitalism, also also called “Market Economy” looks to the natural interchanges between customers and suppliers to determine output and clearing prices. Capitalism elevates the individual and posits that societies fare best when individuals are free to pursue their private interests.
  • Communism. From an economic system perspective, stresses central [government] ownership of resources. This system is heavily reliant on plans or prescriptions defined by the government as opposed to the market supply and demand forces.
  • Socialism.  Provides for both centralized and private ownership of resources. It promotes collectivism (i.e., collective good of society) as the central aim of an economy.
This series does not seek to elevate moral distinctions between the above systems. While America’s economy operates under capitalism, this series is not intended to argue its merit. Religious texts (e.g., The Bible) actually provide sound examples socialism philosophies, even in the early church. Also, no society has perfectly structured its economy around either system. Communism has produced disparities, stymied innovation, and failed to adequately plan to meet the needs of citizens. Capitalism witnesses subsidies, abusive exercise of power for economy aims, excessive wealth gaps and poverty, etc. And socialism has produced disparities and come with oppressive leaders.
Consequently, this series is not as much interested in labeling thoughts (i.e., that”s “communist), but rather seeks to explore how might America better structure its economic arrangements to meet the challenges ahead.

To You the Reader

You can help make this a very positive series by doing the following:

  1. Register for a free account at kennethdprice.com. This will better enable you to stay abreast of the discussions.
  2. Offer comments and personal experiences. Engage in discussions. Respond to polls. Etc etc etc
  3. Share these articles on social media (e.g., Facebook), with friends/families/colleagues, etc
  4. Provide me feedback and suggestions at Contact Me.

I look forward to your participation!

 

 

 

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