Friday, January 19, 2007

JT Columnist Understands Free Market

Just days after blasting JT columnist Mike Moore for his support of race based affirmitive action, I must commend him for his column that demonstrates an understanding of the value of competitive markets.

I won't repeat the whole story here, but it involves the Racine City Councils addiction to the $750,000 franchise fee it collects from TimeWarner Cable. They want the same from AT&T but AT&T doesn't want to pay. Anyway, Moore recognizes that the consumer actually pays the fee as it is listed on his cable bill. Furthermore, Moore understands that competition among providers will bring the price down for customers. Unfortunately, some or most on the city council want to keep the TimeWarner monopoly going as they lack the understanding demonstrated by Mike Moore.

Now if only Moore and his colleagues could understand that the same principles would apply to the education of children.


Brenda said...

Okay, I'll bite - what sort of competition is best for the children of the greater Racine area?

Charter schools can be great competitors, and Racine can have an unlimited number of them. Unfortunately these "unlimited" charter schools have to be chartered by RUSD.

Milwaukee schools on the other hand can be chartered by just about every governmental or quasi-governmental body you can think of.

Do the citizens of greater Racine need to lobby our state leaders to lift the cap of how many schools can be independently chartered?

Anonymous said...

since this post is all over the place, i'll touch on the affirmative action issue. Denis, you consistently provide no solutions to that issue. You say you hate affirmative action, but because you provide no real world, viable solutions, you're still promoting and supporting discrimination by saying "eliminate affirmative action". If you eliminate it, then what? What do you put in its place to provide equity in contracting opportunities, employment and mortgage lending for instance? Nothing? Or is this goal of eliminating affirmative action to maintain racial and ethnic seperation?

Denis Navratil said...

Brenda, I would say that the best sort of competition for schools would include non government schools. School vouchers and/or tuition tax credits are ways to introduce that competition into the equation. Yes the citizens of Racine need to make our state officials understand that monopolistic government institutions like RUSD are harming our children and imperilling our future.

Denis Navratil said...

anon, thanks for your post. I will answer your question by asking some of my own. What should the government do about death? What should they do about lust? What about gluttony? Should there be a law forbidding envy? You see, just because there is a problem does not mean that the best way to confront it is via government. Racism is an ugly attitude to be sure, but what can a government do about it? Has the government ever succeeded in changing your attitude or mindset about anything?

Now there is one thing government can and should do. They should eliminate their own racism. The only racist programs in the government that I am aware of are affirmitive action programs. Affirmitive action gives advantages to members of one race at the expense of another. This racism must stop. The governments and the citizens that perpetrate racist policies may be well intentioned but that is besides the point. They are wrong.

Now what can we do to confront racism, a problem that clearly exists?

First do no harm. We are already violating that one with affirmative action.

Examine your own thoughts, actions, attitudes etc... For you anon I would suggest you ask yourself whether two wrongs make a right. Ask yourself whether it is possible to administer a program fairly that would compensate people today for the hardships suffered by their ancestors yesterday. Ask yourself which people have overcome racism most effectively and ask whether they succeeded with or without government "help".

You see anon I am focussing mostly on you because I assume that you support affirmitive action which is just a fancy name for racial dicscrimination. Racism is a disease of the heart and mind. In your case I suspect it is primarily of your mind. It's cure will happen one person at a time, as an individual takes the time to examine his or her own conscience and/or thought process. The government can't do that for you anon.

Brenda said...

I agree that non-government schools would provide the best competition. But here's a thought - because they receive government money and are overseen by the government (DPI) are they really a non-government school?

Are you suggesting we just remove government influence (tax dollars)on all of the schools?

If so, what kind of world would this be?

Denis Navratil said...

With government money must come government regulation. As such, any private school that participated in a voucher program would come under greater scrutiny by DPI. Some private schools may decide not to participate. Most I suspect would.

Now, I am not advocating the total removal of government from education. At present we have a government owned and operated school system. It is not subject to much competition as all government money goes only to public schools and not private ones via vouchers. A move in that direction (vouchers, tax credits, competition) would result in a gradual shift from a government owned and operated system to a government regulated sytem. Of course government owned and operated schools would still exist to the extent that there was a demand for them.

To put my views in another context, I would prefer that the government inspect the brakes on my car than that they install the brakes on my car. See the difference?

Anonymous said...

Denis, your analogies regarding lust, gluttony and envy are not comparable to the issue at hand because they are feelings and feelings are not tangible, measurable and are only vaguely definable. However, discrimination is tangible, measurable and can be specifically defined, therefore can be identified via evidence. You ask what can the government do? The Civil Rights Act, Voting Rights Act of 1965, Americans with Disabilities Act, Equal Employment Commission, and a host of others demonstrate examples of what the government can do/has done about these inequities. Without these regulations, we'd still have millions of people not being allowed to vote simply because of what they look like, unfathomable in today's world, but a certain reality if not for the Voting Rights Act. We'd still have handicapped individuals not given opportunities to provide for themselves because they can't physically enter and operate within a building. You see the government has an obligation to provide the tools to allow people to better themselves, because individually, people do not have the conscience to do it themselves, therefore the government has to step in and force people and industry to do it. These laws enabled people to achieve empowerment.

What can we do to confront racism you ask? The premise behind these polices such as affirmative action is not to " do no harm" as you suggest, it is to provide a legitimate opportunity to compete. How we confront racism and any other discrimination that is defined by law, is to put our personal prejudices and stereotypes aside, and open the door to competition and opportunity for everyone who is capable.

It seems as though you support initiatives that favor minimizing opportunity to the minority (such as affirmative action), these initiatives favor maintaining policies that stifle competition to the the majority in power, authority and decision making roles. This is hyprocritical to your pro-competition stance. Please explain.

For instance, their are other discriminatory policies currently in place regarding government contracting. These current polices such as no-bid and contract advertising tactics, assist in closing the door to opportunity and competition to the major providers of these government contracts. Do you oppose these too then? As you mentioned, the perpetrators of these discriminatory policies are wrong.

The goals of affirmative action is to right the wrongs of the past by simply opening the door to people who have historically been denied an opportunity to compete. That's the only thing people are looking for, simply open the door and individual talent and abilities will do the rest. A hand up, not a hand out.

You asked " which people have overcome racism most effectively and ask whether they succeeded with or without government "help". I am fortunate to personally know a few of Wisconsin's most successful entrepreneur's, corporate executives, and professionals of color, we have spoken about these same issues and i can assure you that they will personally attest to the fact they did overcome a discriminatory culture with the assistance of the government in some way shape, form or fashion. These are no dummies, they're individuals with advanced degrees, decision making capacities, highly knowledgable and experienced in their professions...people like my parents, uncles and aunts and a host of other successful family members and friends.

You ask if a program can be administered fairly, you bet! Its happening as we speak. The Wisconsin Dept. of Transportation is just one of many examples of entities that have implemened an initiative of inclusion for its suppliers, vendors and contractors that is revolutionary and currently being adopted all across the country. Truly innovative and most importantly, effective.

You see the problem lies with individuals. No one is capable or willing to start thinking for themselves. Group think is the culprit, and thoughts and actions are being guided by political party platforms, and campaign contributors, not our minds and conscience.

Anonymous said...

Food for thought...

Let me provide another example for you. The commercial real estate industry has been another predominately white male dominated industry. Its another "good 'ole boy" institution that has historically and systematically blocked opportunities for the minority (ANY person not in the majority) to enter. Marquette University, recognized this lack of access to one of the most lucrative industries in the world, and created a program to allow interaction and access. ACRE program was born which provides interested professionals of color an opportunity to enter the commercial real estate industry by giving them unlimited access to Wisconsin's largest commercial development firms. And eventually a successful career in commercial real estate. Marquette got it right, the commercial real estate industry didn't...until Marquette University stepped in.

Read this article....scroll down to the development firm article

Denis Navratil said...

Anon, the analogies of lust, envy and, gluttony are comparable to racism because they are internal personal sicknesses, like racism. And like racism, there can be tangible, observable results from them. Lets see, lust can result in STD's, unwanted pregnancies, and adultery. Gluttony can cause obesity. Envy can be observed by the policy offerings of most liberals.

Regarding the rest of your post, I don't mean to dismiss it or dodge it ,but it would require a dissertation to respond to all your points. It would seem more realistic to have the discussion in person. I hope you will join us on Tuesday at the JavaVino. If there is a specific point you would like me to respond to, please indicate which point you would most like me to address.

I will also be posting a response to your assertion that there is widespread discrimination in the mortgage/lending business.

W Racine said...

I believe that having government programs to solve the racism problem in the United States is government's responsibilty. Remember that about 150 years ago, government sanctioned slavery. Until about 40 years ago, many govenmental entities sanctioned discrimination. Some of those discrimination policies still linger today. Certainly, the attitudes that they helped develop still exist.

I believe that since government was part of the cause of the problem, it is their obligation to be part of the solution. (and a hands-off free-market policy of non-involvement is not a solution.)

Denis Navratil said...

W racine, thanks for your post. Yes the government was wrong when they permitted slavery. Yes it was wrong to prevent blacks from voting. And reverse discrimination is also wrong.

Denis Navratil said...

Anon writes: "It seems as though you support initiatives that favor minimizing opportunity to the minority (such as affirmative action), these initiatives favor maintaining policies that stifle competition to the the majority in power, authority and decision making roles. This is hyprocritical to your pro-competition stance. Please explain."

It is a mistake to conclude that I favor policies that stifle competition. Affirmative action stifles competition.

For recipients of affirmative action, you get unwarranted advantages. You will not have to improve yourself as much because you will simply cash in on your blackness. You may well adopt an attitude that society owes you something. Neither of these things will make one more competitive.

For the overt victims of affirmative action (blacks are victims as well), you realize that your skills and drive are rendered meaningless (or at least less meaningful) by policies which discriminate against you. Why enter a competition when the rules are made to harm you.

Affirmative action is an anti-competitive policy and I remain firmly opposed to it.

Anonymous said...

that's good, Denis. At least you stand for something as most people don't stand for anything. Also, too these topics tend to scare people as it does with the other readers of your blog. These conversations tend to be just me & you for some reason.

Anyways, Before we go any further with this conversation, first thing needs to be established here, the common misconception about affirmative action is that its for black people. Affirmative action is for anyone who falls within a protected class, as defined by law. White people also account for people within these protected classes. So affirmative action is for everyone within a protected class, not a policy for black people as people like to pretend.

I am eager to hear specifics about what these "unwarranted advantages" are for others in the protected classes like handicapped individuals, deaf people, senior citizens and women.

Your 2nd to last paragraph really doesn't make sense to me.

Denis Navratil said...

I realize that affirmative action/discrimination policies can be created for any aggrieved group with political muscle. I was using blacks simply as an example. I did not mean to imply that blacks were the only ones for whom affirmative action/discrimination ploicies were created.

My second to last paragraph was intended to demonstate that aa/d policies do not promote competitiveness if ones skills, attributes, drive etc... are not rewarded because of the punishment inflicted by aa/d policies. If a person works hard to get good grades and good test scores, only to be denied addmission into college because they are the "wrong" color, then this kind of policy can hardly be accurately described as pro-competition.

I don't know of any specific programs designed to elevate the deaf or seniors over more qualified candidates.

Regarding this discussion being between me and you only, I am not surprised. Speaking candidly about this issue comes with some risks. No doubt you agree or you would not be posting anonymously. As for me, I think I have something to offer, so to hell with political correctness. We only have one life to live. Why live it fearfully?