Home > Uncategorized > NYTimes Columnist David Leonardt’s Analysis: Big Business is Winning… My Analysis: It WILL Win in the Public Sector if Voters Don’t Stop It

NYTimes Columnist David Leonardt’s Analysis: Big Business is Winning… My Analysis: It WILL Win in the Public Sector if Voters Don’t Stop It

June 21, 2018

David Leonardt writes compelling op ed columns on the economy and I tend to agree with almost all of his findings… with one notable exception. Mr. Leonardt is among the many NYTimes editorialists who unwittingly (I hope) buy into the notion that education is not a public good but a commodity. Mr. Leonardt, like many of his colleagues on the Times, is a school choice advocate and, as part of that advocacy, wants schools to compete in a lightly regulated marketplace. What he and his colleagues fail to recognize is that public schools, unlike private corporations, are governed by locally elected officials who will tend to make decisions that favor local needs and concerns over the needs and concerns of shareholders who reside in distant cities and make their decisions based on spreadsheets.

In Mr. Leonardt’s column earlier this week, The Charts Show How Big Business is Winning, Mr. Leonardt offers this overview of how the “big fish” have gobbled up the “small fish” in the national economy:

The changes over the past quarter-century are pretty remarkable.

In the late 1980s, small companies were still a lot bigger, combined, than big companies. In 1989, firms with fewer than 50 workers employed about one-third of American workers — accounting for millions more jobs than companies with at least 10,000 employees.

Since then, though, many small businesses have struggled to keep up with the new corporate giants and with foreign competition. You can probably see a version of the story in your community. The hardware store has given way to The Home Depot. The local hospital and bank are owned by a chain. The supermarket is Whole Foods, which is now owned by Amazon. The family-owned manufacturer may simply be out of business.

The share of Americans working for small companies fell to 27.4 percent in 2014, the most recent year for which data exists, down from 32.4 in 1989. And big companies have grown by almost an identical amount. Today, companies with at least 10,000 workers employ more people than companies with fewer than 50 workers.

After reading the column, I left the following comment:

For Mr. Leonardt and his colleagues at the NYTimes who believe that the way to improve public education is to commodify it so that it competes in the marketplace, here’s what to expect in the decades ahead: Amazon.com (or Walmart) Public Schools that employ thousands of teachers and answer to shareholders and executives in a faraway city will soon supplant your local public schools that employ 50 or fewer teachers and are beholden lo local voters who elect school boards from citizens in their community. If you don’t see this happening, you aren’t learning from the trends Mr. Leonardt describes in this column.

 

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