Is Mike Rosen a Closet Libertarian?
by Sandra Davies Johnson, May 1999
In a recent Rocky Mountain News column (April 9, 1999, page 58A), Mike Rosen criticized government education. He made some excellent points:
1. We, the customers who pay for education, are entitled to get what we want.
2. The fundamental flaw in government education is the failure to treat parents and students as individual customers, with individual preferences.
3. The bureaucracy is unresponsive to the desires of many of its customers.
4. Competition and choice will create hundreds of diverse schools, offering different customers different options.
In our society, most goods and services are plentiful, of good quality, available in wide variety, and affordable. These include food, housing, clothes, and automobiles. However, in other areas the opposite is true. These include education, health care, and retirement. Why? Let's look at Rosen's criticisms as applied to any consumer issue:
1. Where will you, the customer, most likely get what you want -- from private businesses or from a government bureaucrat?
2. Who is most likely to be able to treat you as an individual customer with individual preferences -- private businesses or a government bureaucrat?
3. Who do you expect to be most responsive to your needs -- private businesses or a government bureaucrat?
4. If you're not satisfied what recourse do you have -- can you chose from among the competition found in an open marketplace or do you appeal to the mercy of the front line bureaucrat of the government monopoly assigned to deal with "customer service?"
The plentiful, affordable items are provided by markets, by businesses least burdened by government interference. Shortages, inferior quality, and the mentality that "one size WILL fit all" are characteristic of those goods and services provided or controlled by the government. Who is satisfied with the quality and the cost of government education, or of socialized medicine, or of the government-run Ponzi scheme called Social Security?
Free markets give us what we want: we are treated as customers with individual preferences. A business that is not responsive to its customers will die. It is only through market competition that we will get better quality, lower costs, and wider choices. This is true in health care, retirement planning, and in every area currently under government control.
If Mike Rosen would be willing to consistently apply his excellent criticisms of state education to other areas of government, he could be a Libertarian, too!
Sandra Johnson was the Libertarian Party's 1998 candidate for governor of Colorado.