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You Cannot Run a Public Service like a Business, and Here’s Why

April 8, 2013

You Cannot Run a Public Service like a Business, and Here’s Why.

This blog post is based on the UK’s economy… but it applies directly to the ongoing debate in the privatization of public schools. I especially appreciated this paragraph:

The primary concern of the Public Service should be social efficiency; otherwise it is rendering itself obsolete.  It is not cost efficient to provide post offices in villages, free meals and milk in schools, small local hospitals and local doctor surgeries.  The commercialisation of these public services demands they strip out unnecessary costs.  But from a social efficiency perspective these are good ideas. If amenities are removed from villages they become unviable. Hungry, malnourished children struggle to learn and are more likely to suffer behavioural problems, so free school meals and milk alleviate this.  Localised health services will be more easily accessible, personal and responsive to local people.

We’re advocating the closure of hospitals, the closure of small “inefficient” schools, and the consolidation of medical services in the name of economic efficiency, overlooking their social efficiency. Maybe the solution is to convert classrooms in underutilized schools into satellite medical offices, post offices, and social service offices… places where all generations would serendipitously cross paths. THAT would result in social efficiency.

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