May 6, 2011

If Supermarkets were like Schools

Marc Comtois

Imagine there was a Shaw's 1 mile away from you but that you preferred to shop at Dave's, which was 3 miles away. Now imagine the government had put a system in place that basically forced you to shop at Shaw's simply because it was geographically closer to you. What a ridiculous system:

Residents of each county would pay taxes on their properties. Nearly half of those tax revenues would then be spent by government officials to build and operate supermarkets. Each family would be assigned to a particular supermarket according to its home address. And each family would get its weekly allotment of groceries—"for free"—from its neighborhood public supermarket.

No family would be permitted to get groceries from a public supermarket outside of its district. Fortunately, though, thanks to a Supreme Court decision, families would be free to shop at private supermarkets that charge directly for the groceries they offer. Private-supermarket families, however, would receive no reductions in their property taxes.

Of course, the quality of public supermarkets would play a major role in families' choices about where to live. Real-estate agents and chambers of commerce in prosperous neighborhoods would brag about the high quality of public supermarkets to which families in their cities and towns are assigned.

Being largely protected from consumer choice, almost all public supermarkets would be worse than private ones. In poor counties the quality of public supermarkets would be downright abysmal. Poor people—entitled in principle to excellent supermarkets—would in fact suffer unusually poor supermarket quality.

And so on. Asinine, isn't it?

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And in a free, non-socialist America, one not built on Bismarck's vision of a public education system designed and operated for the purpose of creating obedient subjects of the Kaiser, all schools would be private and there would be a wide variety of schools from which parents and students could choose. Creativity and innovation, as well as elimination of union meddling would bring costs down dramatically so that effective, appropriate schools would be affordable at every income level.

I have never seen a "smartboard" improve a student's ability to learn a skill or a bit of useful knowledge. But they costs thousands apiece.

Posted by: BobN at May 6, 2011 4:52 PM

Most of the public education advocates are simply basing their argument on an idealized false dichotomy.

The choice is not "good education for everyone" in a public system or "good education for some, crappy education for others" in a private system.

The true choice is "good education for some, crappy education for others" in a private system or "crappy education for everyone" in a public system.

Posted by: Dan at May 6, 2011 5:46 PM

While there still are wonderful teachers, the NEA and the AFT members as a whole are the biggest threats to your kids intellectually, morally, spiritually and sexually.

Posted by: Tommy Cranston at May 6, 2011 7:03 PM

What is so interesting about this comparison is that people would instinctively balk at the idea of being "mandated" to shop at one market based on where they lived. It would seem ridiculous! But for schools, people just accept it because "that is the way it has always been."

Posted by: Bucket Chick at May 6, 2011 10:35 PM


You got me thinking about my shopping habits with this post. I don't go to fish stores because I provide my own seafood. So I guess that's like homeschooling, right. Sometimes I go to Dave's. The one I stop at is in an suburban mostly affluent area. It's funny how the shoppers there will stand in line to take advantage of the free coffee and free samples offered. Very pricey but the workers there are friendly. The wealthy are used to be catered to even if they have to pay through the nose. If I'm feeling loyal to the old community markets feeling the pressure from the large chains I go to Tom's in Coventry. But if I have a check from one of my customers I go to Stop & Shop so I can use the Citizens bank there. When I need to resupply items in bulk it's BJ's. There I get mass quantities of bottled seltzer and bathroom tissue. I try to keep a good supply of bathroom tissue in the case of having contact here with those like Bismark Bob.

Posted by: Phil at May 7, 2011 10:25 PM

One has to be "wealthy"to shop at Dave's?I notice their prices are very comparable with Shaw's and Stop&Shop and much better than Whole Foods or Eastside Market.
Their quality is generally superior.
There's no rule of thumb-sometimes Whole Foods is actually better on some items than a place like Shaw's.
I go to Price Rite for some things also,although I wouldn't buy meat,fish or produce you don't normally cook there.
Shore's, a local place on Mineral Spring has great qulity and some markedly lower prices on certain items.
They routinely have prepared meatballs for $2.99/lb and the same price for domestic cooked ham.Try finding that at a chain store,although Dave's runs some good specials on prepared foods.
What i've discovered is thaat the only generalization about RI supermarkets is that Stop&Shop has the lowest quality and really high prices on a lot of stuff.
The free coffee at Dave's is very good-is there something "cheap"about taking something they offer for nothing?
I don't quite get Phil's point.

Posted by: joe bernstein at May 8, 2011 10:46 AM
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