Debunking Public Vs Private

Side Note: Since this post will kind of be a health care debate post… sort of… and since I couldn’t digg the article yesterday since Digg was being stupid and not letting me submit it, I’ll link to an interesting article about how the health insurance companies hurt policyholders.

Now, I’ve heard a lot of arguments from the right (and some blue dogs on the left) these days of why a public option in health care would be a bad thing… like a healthy competition is a bad thing. It started me thinking of how public competes against private. Brian and I spent an hour coming up with a pretty good list of ways public competes with private:

  • Public vs Private mail – For example USPS vs FedEx.
  • Public vs Private schools – For example colleges can be public or private. Most private colleges (and schools) are more expensive. Wouldn’t private schools not be around at all if everyone put their kids in public since it’s cheaper? There are REALLY good public schools (example UMD)… yet there are still private schools out there… wonder why.
  • Public vs Private airports – Here’s a list of public and private airports in Maryland. I don’t hear any private airports (or conservatives) wining how the public ones take all the business away. Private airports are still in business, oddly enough.
  • Public vs Private space agencies – For example NASA vs Scaled Composites (which is a child of Northrup Grumman).
  • Pubic vs Private hospitals – Thinking there probably shouldn’t be any private hospitals still around… oh wait, there are.
  • Public vs Private radio – Ever heard of NPR? Nothing about the right crying “unfair” they’re competing with private radio stations.
  • Pubic vs Private banks – This one really gets me. I don’t hear anything about people being mad at government run banks or credit unions. You’d think they’d offer higher interest rates on savings accounts (you know, since they don’t have to worry about profit). Which in turn, you guessed it, causes the private to go out of business. But none of that happens. Public and private are just as competitive. In fact, I bank with ING Direct and I get a much better interest rate than if I banked with NFCU.
  • Public vs Private television – PBS versus almost anything else. How come PBS isn’t kicking butt on the ratings? Oh yeah, they suck. So people go to private… Hmm… apply that theory to healthcare… Case in point, if this public option sucks, people will flock back to private. Private just needs to be… what’s the word… oh yeah, COMPETITIVE.

Pretty sure this list is incomplete. Can you think of more?

Now, I don’t hear anyone on the right (or anyone for a “free market”) arguing against any of these. If public was so good, we wouldn’t be having this debate, would we? These major things would all be run by the government and there would be no private. And I’m guessing Obama’s socialism would be a much larger number than 0.21%.

And regarding the argument: “oh well when one of the companies doesn’t have to worry about a profit…” Honestly? If your life depended on a decision from someone NOT in it for the profit or someone IN it for the profit, I can’t imagine why anyone would put their life in the hands of someone who’s only looking out for their profit.

2009 Resolutions Update II
Quickie On Tort Reform


  1. It’s a pretty basic thing. They haven’t had to compete. I mean REALLY compete.

    So, they don’t want to start.

    I’ll say right now, I don’t support the public option. I don’t support anything watered-down. The fact that the right wants the left to compromise between the public option and no public option (well not really compromise, it’s really their way or nothing) is ridiculous. The public option IS the compromise. The ideal progressive solution is single-payer, funded with tax dollars.

    Unfortunately, decades of right-wing propaganda has turned the idea of single-payer into “socialism”. This is a falsehood. SOCIALIZED medicine would mean the government owns and operates the hospitals and all the docs are government employees. The VA medical stuff for example is socialized medicine. (And it works! Just ask my Dad)

    Anyway, single-payer means the doctors, hospitals, clinics etc are PRIVATE and the federal government pays the bill from tax dollars. This is how medicare works, and to a certain extent how medicaid works (medicaid is a combination of federal and state)

    This public option is the best we can hope to get right now, and it is a step in the right direction, but the time has never been better to get real reform and it is a shame the dems are only willing to half-ass it this way.

  2. I think something is better than the current system we have. Of course the ideal is what most people want, a single payer system. Unfortunately, Obama has to compromise with everything. If it’s not the right making him do it, it’s the left. It’s unfortunate but that’s the government we have.

    I read an interesting article the other week of how good the VA is in Montana (

    I do think there are things we can all agree on such as preventative. We need to focus more on preventative medicine than cure. A reason we are in the situation we are in is because ER’s are the only way to go if you’re uninsured. And ER’s don’t do things like cancer screenings, breast exams, or anything of the sort that helps detect BEFORE something major happens. People just have to go to the ER when they’re sick, and that’s sad. If you don’t have insurance, you’re f**ked.

    I did think of another one to add to the list: public radio.

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