Public Sector Vs. Private Sector – Who Wins?

For those of you who think our government is well-positioned to manage health care you might just want to consider how well the government manages higher education.

In Oregon, it’s pretty easy to see. Just pull out a copy of the latest US News and World Report and take a look at the college rankings. Here is what you will find:

Best Liberal Arts Colleges:
Reed College — 49th
Willamette University — 62nd
Lewis and Clark — 79th

Best Universities — Master’s:
University of Portland — 10th in the West Region

Best Baccalaureate Colleges:
Corban College — 4th in West Region
Warner Pacific — 12th in West Region

Now for the list of Oregon public universities from US News and World Report from any category, any ranking, any region, and any number placement to 100:

Oregon Institute of Technology – 42nd Best Undergraduate Engineering

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Posted by at 06:13 | Posted in Measure 37 | 32 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Rupert in Springfield

    For those of you who think our government is well-positioned to manage health care could you please explain the UPS/Fed EX vs Post Office comparison BO is going on about?

    I mean every time I hear it I am recalled of the “I’ve been to all the states, all 57 of them” thing. Was BO drunk when he did the post office comparison or what? Is there some explanation for it? I don’t really get how BO thought comparing the massively in debt post office with UPS and Fed Ex helped his case that government ran things, like health care, particularly well.

    Is this just another one of those “well he was just tired” things we have to excuse, or on some level did this comparison work for our more left leaning friends out there?

    • vp

      Becaue the case he was making was that private business can compete, or out compete government offering similar services. He was countering the argument, which you yourself have made, that a public option would inevitably drive private companies out of the market.

      • Rupert in Springfield

        Oh ok, so he was counting on the average persons ignorance of shipping in making the comparison. Frankly I guess then maybe it sort of works. However if people ever found out how the post office has in fact driven private companies out of a lot of areas, through fiat, then I suppose it wouldn’t work so well.

        It didn’t make a lot of sense to me since I’m very familiar with shipping options and the parties involved. Maybe that’s why to those of us with actual knowledge of the industry the comparison seemed to be about as stupid a flub as the 57 states thing.

        • vp

          Well, we have the Founding fathers, particularly Franklin, to thank for the mess that is the postal service (Article 1, Section 8, Clause 7 in the Constitution established the monopoly authority of the USPS on mail delivery). And since the founding fathers were without flaw, what could be the problem?

          Obama was, as I understood it (I being an average person,) not about the particulars of shipping. It was on the order of a metaphor. He could have cited any number of examples where private businesses offer services alongside public entities. They are legion, and include schools, water systems, security, transport, campgrounds, parks, hotels, natural resource conservation, housing, forestry, and of late, even military operations to name just a few. In fact, even in health insurance and health care we already have a mixed public and private system. So why is a truncated public option so frightening to you and other “conservatives”? Why are you so convinced it would result in a complete government takeover, especially given the example of the postal service, which once had a complete monopoly but gave it up?

          • Steve Plunk

            Blaming the Founding Fathers for the modern postal service is ridiculous. The constitution allows Congress to establish a postal service but does not mention monopoly of service. Since the powers of the government were to be few and specifically enumerated this was simply the power to create a postal service, nothing else. Congress took it upon itself to forbid competition.

            Why might the “public option” be a concern? Every bit of government growth is a concern and this is a large bit of growth. Given the extraordinary level of deficit spending and debt we should be watching everything very closely and fighting for our future.

          • vp

            If a bill passes with a public option it will cost taxpayers LESS than a bill without one. Given that, and as a conservative, wouldn’t you prefer a public option assuming a bill does pass?

          • Rupert in Springfield

            >And since the founding fathers were without flaw, what could be the problem?

            You really hate facing an argument don’t you? Is that why you are a font of ill thought out pop offs?

            The founding fathers in no way shape or form gave the postal service the monopoly power they have now.

            Please, if you are going to engage in a discussion, think a little bit before you make tedious errors like this, bring a little more to the table. This kind of thing, which clearly you did not think through anymore than the time it took to type it is what makes one wonder if you really consider anything or just go with the usual “if a Democrat thought of it, I have to support it” mode.

            >Obama was, as I understood it (I being an average person,) not about the particulars of shipping. It was on the order of a metaphor.

            Obviously. That’s why I was wondering why he would use that as an example. I guess BO was counting on people who either didn’t know much about, or didn’t stop and think much, about the comparison he was drawing.

            >Why are you so convinced it would result in a complete government takeover, especially given the example of the postal service, which once had a complete monopoly but gave it up?

            For a lot of reasons, not the least of which is the post office metaphor, since it is a monopoly and even with that power the government is still willing to run it into the red endlessly rather than give up that monopoly power.

            Same thing would happen with health care, as we have seen with the Medicare program. No cost reductions, no real difference in the rate of growth and massive overspending that is way more of a threat to the country than just about anything out there. Some people understand the basic reality that we simply don’t have the money. Others are still in denial about that.

          • vp

            “The founding fathers in no way shape or form gave the postal service the monopoly power they have now.”

            Actually, they did, or so Congress and the courts have interpreted for the past well over 200 years. Look it up. They delegated to the Postal service the ability to decide which aspects of its monopoly they were willing to concede, and over time they have conceded some, which is in part why we have a UPS and Fed Ex.

            “Same thing would happen with health care, as we have seen with the Medicare program. No cost reductions, no real difference in the rate of growth and massive overspending …”

            Ok, calm yourself down, stop and think for a moment. The various bills in Congress propose specific methods for saving money in Medicare. Conservatives have responded how? “They want to pull the plug on granny!” “They want to dictate to your doctor what treatments they can or can’t give you!” “They want to force you into a government program!” “Zeke Emanuel is Dr Death!” All utter BS.

            If conservatives want to cut Medicare spending, why are they doing this? Don’t they (you) think that in your zeal to deal Obama a defeat, you are risking locking us into a bunch of really bad and pretty dumb things within Medicare that foster unecesary spending? What happens after you “win” and 5 or 10 or 20 years down the road Republicans (God forbid) are back in charge of Congress and now want to cut Medicare spending. What do they do? What do they even say? There will be twice as many voting geezers by then. Is there any forward thinking here at all?

            And why is there no concern over the growth in the cost of private health insurance? This is an anchor around the neck of the entire US economy, yet “conservatives” seem to have no problem with it. They pretend it is a free market issue when it is no such thing. It is a symptom of local monopolies called hospitals that can charge pretty much whatever they want, which is why a room with very bad food, ugly linoleum and an occasional visit from a nurse named Hank costs multiple thousands of dollars a day. And, you are lucky if they don’t end up literally killing you through their inability to incorporate information technology at the level of a Plaid Pantry, so they give you the medication meant for the poor sap in room 247B, who is anyway comatose and hooked to tubes ordered to be kept in place by right to lifers, so he really doesn’t give a rip.

            Fighting to preserve the status quo is perplexing other than for one conclusion. Rush rules, and defeating Obama is the only priority here. If conservatives were truly concerned about spending and the deficit, they would be trying to repeal their own stupid legislation that is costing $50B a year just to get prescription drugs to granny so she will remember to vote for them. Monumentally stupid. Just repealling that alone would pay for most of Obama’s proposal. Simply allowing the government to actually negotiate with big pharma would save at least half. But no. “Conservatives” would much rather preserve the right of insurance and drug companies to stick both hands in the taxpayers pocket.

            “Some people understand the basic reality that we simply don’t have the money. ”

            Yes Rupert, a few of us actually do understand that and have for some time now.

  • Conscience of a Moonbat

    We’ve got to stop relying on the failed policies of the past … outmoded answers like the ‘private sector.’ We are all in this together. How else can we look after those who can least afford it? Or would you prefer to continue on the path to inequality that started when Bush took office?

    Just kidding. I was trying to impersonate an Obamunist. How’d I do?

    • Anonymous

      You did good

  • dartagnan

    You make a sweeping assertion that “government does a lousy job of running higher education,” but the only example you cite is the Oregon system — which, I agree, is third-rate.

    What about West Point? Annapolis? The Air Force Academy?

    What about state institutions in other states that are highly ranked? UCLA, UC-Berkeley, University of Virginia, USC, University of Michigan, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, NYU, UC San Diego, University of Wisconsin, UC Davis, UC Santa Barbara, University of Washington, UC Irvine, Penn State and others, all ranked in the top 50 in US News & World Report’s rankings.

    • retired UO prof

      dartagnan, see my post below — UO and OSU are actually better, in academic reputation at least, in the US News rankings. Oregon is getting a good deal considering its miserable support of public higher education. Not a good idea to spit in the soup pot, unless there’s something better in the works.

  • retired UO prof

    The US News rankings depend largely on expenditure per student, and of course Oregon public universities are terrible in this respect — or good, depending on your point of view. I haven’t seen much enthusiasm at this website for more state spending on higher education, not from Jerry!

    Actually, if you go by the academic reputation part of the US News rankings, Oregon public colleges generally do better, certainly UO, which then moves to the top 70 or so “National Universities”, which includes the rich private universities along with the public universities of all the states.

    Many of us at UO have thought over the years that we’d be better off in the long run as a private university, no subsidies from the state, no special in-state tuition, complete freedom to set tuition and programs.

    Reed, L+C, Willamette do pretty well in these rankings.

    But do you guys really want UO, OSU to be charging $35-$40K per year tuition? (The stingy state subsidy is just a small fraction of this, not even worth bothering with.)

    • Jerry

      U of O did not place on the Princeton Review list either, but it must be some problem with how they rank these colleges. I am certain U of O should be on both lists. Something got messed up somewhere is all.

      • eagle eye

        I checked, U of O is #115 in this year’s US News rankings, about where it’s been for years. It’s the only Tier 2 national university on their list, OSU is Tier 3 and PSU is Tier 4.

        The retired prof is right about the US News rankings, the abysmal funding for UO (and the others) guarantees that they will not score so well on these lists.

        I would think that low state funding would count as a plus with you guys, not a minus. Wouldn’t you rather have zero funding? That would just about guarantee UO a place in Tier 3, if not Tier 4.

        U of O does come up every year on the US News list of “Best Values”.

        I wonder, what do you think of prof’s idea of privatizing the state colleges and universities, letting them charge whatever they want, let them sink or swim? Probably several of them would go under, maybe everything except UO and OSU. Would you go for that?

  • Jerr bear

    I think Jerry just farted. Keep on keepin on, Jerr bear.

  • Rupert in Springfield

    Well, the good news is BO’s on vacation. Thank God, with the deficit rising from the $7T they had predicted to now $9T over the next ten years the more these clowns are out of town the better.

    Gee, wonder if being 40% off in the figure for just the deficit will give any of the progressives pause to re- think the rosy scenarios of all the cost savings from a public option?

    You would think that some of them would at the very least re-think all the huge stimulus spending coming up for 2010

    Of course they wont though.

    Have fun Obama, glad to see you just sit a spell, you are one expensive guy.

  • Bob Tiernan

    *vp:*

    Well, we have the Founding fathers, particularly Franklin, to thank for the mess that is the postal service (Article 1, Section 8, Clause 7 in the Constitution established the monopoly authority of the USPS on mail delivery).

    *Bob T:*

    Establishing postal offices is not a granting of a monopoly, just as the authority to build “post roads” was not a monopoly on building all roads.

    Besides, you seem to have never learned about private mail companies like the American Letter Company which delivered first class mail (the monopoly is over first class mail, not the stuff handled by UPS, Fed Ex etc). Read this:

    [ The most controversial challenge to the monopoly of the Postal Service came from Lysander Spooner, who formed the American Letter Company to deliver mail between New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Baltimore to challenge the USPS’ monopoly. The Articles of Confederation of 1778 had vested the Congress with the “sole and exclusive right [of] … establishing and regulating post offices.” The Constitution had simply granted “the power to establish post offices and post roads.” This language led many, including Justice Joseph Story, to doubt whether the power the Constitution gave to set up posts and post roads was intended to be exclusive. Spooner used his own money to buy newspaper advertisements urging cooperation from the federal government to bring the matter before the Supreme Court. The Postmaster General was unwilling to cooperate, though, and Spooner was driven out of business when the government seized his mail. ]

    Note the clear difference between the language of the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution. Had the Framers meant to give the government a monopoly they would have used the same wording. They didn’t. As for the American Letter Company, it wasn’t the only private firm or the best of them, but it upstaged the USPS often. Its founder, Mr. Spooner, used railroads for quicker delivery and the Feds copied him (“Gee, that’s a good idea”). Private firms were doing just fine and the Feds responded by getting rid of them.

    And try this link for a more thourough article on the period of challenges to the USPS self declared monopoly: http://www.cato.org/pubs/journal/cj15n1-1.html

    As usual, you have no idea what you’re talking about, nor do you even consider the problems associated with a statist monopoly — in WWI, the USPS punished “less patriotic” people or dissenters by refusing to deliver various journals and of course prohibiting anyone else from delivering them as well. Not to mention the fact that one wonders why the so-called anti-statist left is comfortable with private mail in the hands of often-undesirable administrations. Think of the potential for snooping! Why do you support that?

    Bob Tiernan
    Portland

    • vp

      “Why do you support that?”

      Who said I did? I said Congress and the courts have interpreted Article 1, etc. in the manner I described, that the USPS has a monopoly on delivering mail. If this was not the case then poor Mr Spooner would not have been driven out of business now would he?

      Nowhere did I say this monopoly was a good or bad idea (though come to think of it having 6 or 8 or 10 different people marching up to my porch every day delivering junk mail might be a bit much). In fact, I said the USPS is a mess. I laid the blame on the Founding Fathers, and maybe I erred on that point, though I am not convinced since every Congress and all the courts have said they did do this (established a postal monopoly, not just post offices).

      If you can show me where the courts ruled that there is no constitutional postal monopoly, then fine, I have no ego over holding onto this point.

  • Bob Tiernan

    *Rupert:*

    I mean every time I hear it I am recalled of the “I’ve been to all the states, all 57 of them” thing.

    *Bob T:*

    Rupert, he thinks there are *60* states. Listen to his comment again. He said he’d been to “57 states so far”, and then “one to go” (58), and added that his staff was not letting him go to Hawaii and Alaska (that makes 60). One of the new states is, I guess, “New Pennsylvania”, which he mentioned in one of his campaign stops with no teleprompter.

    Bob Tiernan
    Portland

  • Bob Tiernan

    *v person:*

    I said Congress and the courts have interpreted Article 1, etc. in the manner I described, that the USPS has a monopoly on delivering mail.

    *Bob T:*

    That’s not what ypu said. You clearly stated that it was Founders, i.e. that it was clear in
    what they wrote, just as clear a point as saying that we were to have a President. Here’s
    what you wrote:

    “Well, we have the Founding fathers, particularly Franklin, to thank for the mess that is the postal service (Article 1, Section 8, Clause 7 in the Constitution established the monopoly authority of the USPS on mail delivery).”

    Again, that is hardly definitive at all, and compared to the definite power that was included
    in the Articles of Confederation, no such monopoly was intended. Makes no difference what
    a court said later since that same court said it was okay to lock up Japanese citizens and
    that growing your own food in a garden is “interstate commerce”. If you want to cite what
    a court said about postal service monopoly, then cite that opinion instead of citing text
    that says no such thing.

    As for competing mail delivery, worrying about multiple carriers coming to your door
    is nonsense. EVen if that would be the result, what would bother you about it?

    Bob Tiernan
    Portland

    • vp

      OK…then let me clarify. I have not read the article in question, and have no intent to do so. What I read was a summary history of the USPS, and it describes statutes passed by Congress and several court cases as supporting the view that the USPS has monopoly authority over mail delivery and that this is consistent with the Constitution. You may think congress and the courts have been wrong for 230 or so years, or that court opinions don’t matter since they sometimes result in bad things like wartime incarceration of law abiding citizens. You are entitled to your opinion. Messy as it is, I tend to like how our government functions compared with the alternatives out there.

      I have no personal opinion on whether the USPS monopoly is a good or bad thing, and am open to legislative alternatives. Now can we get back to the health care question?

  • satisfied UO student

    I applied and was accepted at two of the colleges on the “successful” list. I ended up going to UO because of the cost. Even with the financial aid offered, the choice between a $40K school and UO was easy to make.

    There are some disadvantages to going to a low-budget school like UO — some of the classrooms are literally unchanged from the nineteenth century, they lose a lot of faculty to places that pay competitive salaries. But I’ve been satisfied overall. The honors programs make the first two years more like a small selective college for the better, more motivated students. The last two years have smaller classes, at least in my field. And most of the professors are real scholars and scientists. I think it’s better to learn nanoscience or chemistry or microbiology from people who are doing real science in their labs, instead of from someone who basically learned what they know in graduate school.

    It doesn’t make sense for websites like this to be dumping on the Oregon public colleges. What is the alternative? The retired prof talks about making them private. That’s just a pipedream in this state. And besides, what happens to people like me if they jacked up the tuition to Reed levels, or whatever they could charge?

    Like I say, dumping on UO, OSU etc. doesn’t help your cause any. It just turns off the vast majority of people who rely on public higher education. I’ll bet even a lot of the people who come to this website attend or pay for their kids to go to Oregon public colleges. The retired prof is right about spitting in the soup. It doesn’t win you many friends.

    • eagle eye

      You sound like a pretty sensible person, student. Maybe they’re doing something right at UO.

      You’re right about UO being low budget. They spend maybe $13,000 per year per undergraduate student, including tuition and state subsidy. A place like Reed probably spends $50-$60,000, no state subsidy, of course, but they’re endowment income per student is probably equal to that $13,000 before Reed charges even a dime of tuition. It’s not surprising that Reed comes in higher in rankings. And of course, they’re in two different categories, “liberal arts colleges” and “national universities”. UO’s “competition” is not Amherst and Reed, it’s Harvard and Princeton and the likes of Berkeley and UCLA. In other words, UO doesn’t stand a chance. Let alone OSU, PSU.

      • Jerry

        No one was beating up on any schools in Oregon. Many Oregon schools were highlighted in a most positive manner.

        The article simply pointed out the facts about the rankings. Here’s what I think should bother all you defenders of the status quo in Oregon public higher ed. How can states like South Carolina, Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas, Michigan, and Alabama make the list but Oregon can’t? Do they have more money? Are they better educated? Are they more liberal? Do they care more about education? Are they smarter? What is going on? Oregon is supposed to be cutting edge in oh so many areas and oh so enlightened. How can we fail with all that we have going for us? We have democrats in control of all aspects of state government. Don’t they care about higher ed? Sure, they must. They have to. So, we should be on the list. Way before Alabama – shouldn’t we?

        Something is amiss and it can’t be funding. That is the lamest excuse I have ever heard. How did Michigan make the list, then? The state is broke and has very, very high unemployment. Does Alabama have more money for education than Oregon? If so, how did they get it? Aren’t these people rubes?

        It is always convenient to make money the issue when failing to do what you have been hired to do. Deflect criticism from the real issue by stating a fake issue. Perfect. Just perfect. Maybe we can try to do better. Not actually do better, but try.

        Nice work if you can get it. And it looks like you can here in Oregon.

        • eagle eye

          Jerry — you should read what I wrote above. (And the prof and others have made similar points.)

          UO, OSU come in low in these rankings because the formular US News uses takes money into account. Research it, you can find the formula if you’re really interested. UO is near the bottom in state funding per student among “national universities”, especially the real national universities. I wouldn’t be surprised if its lower than Mississippi State.

          You ask:

          How can states like South Carolina, Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas, Michigan, and Alabama make the list but Oregon can’t? Do they have more money? Are they better educated? Are they more liberal? Do they care more about education? Are they smarter? What is going on?

          The answers to some of your questions are yes, the universities there have more state money. Even U. Oklahoma has much higher state funding per student than U. Oregon, certainly the others on your list. Pathetic. In the case of Michigan and Texas, way way more, those are academic powerhouses. (It’s not just state money look at their endowments.) They do care more about higher education, especially at the higher end. With the exception of Michigan, they are probably not more liberal. Are they smarter? Let the reader be the judge.

          You can find the numbers if you’re really interested, it takes some digging.

          To repeat: UO comes in at #115, OSU somewhat lower (down in Tier 3). Given their funding level, there is no way the US News formula would put them higher. Going just by “academic reputation” or “peer assessment”, UO is a lot higher, somebody said in the top 70 of the U.S. News listings, I haven’t checked (you need to buy their book to check this), but it sounds about right.

          If you’re really interested in Oregon public higher education, and these rankings, learn about the real situation at the schools, and how the rankings work.

          • Jerry

            As I said, if money is the issue and dems run Oregon, why isn’t the money there??? Maybe the state spends too much on curing gambling addictions – I am not sure – but something is very wrong.

            You fail to mention Princeton Review – are they as money-based? Oregon doesn’t do well in their rankings, either.

            But, as you say, money is really the issue. We have proven that with K-12 spending. For each dollar increase in state spending we have seen correlative performance increases in the students’ performance.

          • eagle eye

            You ask:

            if money is the issue and dems run Oregon, why isn’t the money there???

            You would have to ask the Dems why they don’t support higher education in Oregon. (Ted K has been a bit of an exception). You seem to assume that they would, and perhaps that Republicans wouldn’t. I see no reason for those assumptions. Certainly in some of those other states you mention — Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, S. Carolina — it’s not the Democrats alone who have been supporting higher education. Those are all pretty southern, pretty conservative states. In California, back in the great days, the Republicans were no less supportive than the Democrats. In Oregon, Republicans have not been notably less supportive of higher education, often they’ve been more supportive.

            I don’t know anything about Princeton Review rankings. If you have a link, you might post it.

            As for K-12 schools — historically they’ve been well-supported in Oregon, unlike higher education. No longer true, Oregon K-12 schools are no longer particularly well funded, but a lot better than higher education, relative to the rest of the country.

            You could perhaps say that Oregon has overspent on prisons, or K-12, or gambling addiction (I doubt the latter) at the expense of higher education.

            It’s a matter of priorities, Oregon has skimped on public higher education, at the upper end — not talking about community colleges — and it shows.

  • Anon Ex Prof

    ‘tired prof: “Many of us at UO have thought over the years that we’d be better off in the long run as a private university, no subsidies from the state, no special in-state tuition, complete freedom to set tuition and programs.”

    eagle eye: “I would think that low state funding would count as a plus with you guys, not a minus. Wouldn’t you rather have zero funding?”

    more eagle eye nonsense: “I wonder, what do you think of prof’s idea of privatizing the state colleges and universities, letting them charge whatever they want, let them sink or swim?”
    ========

    Re-read the ex-prof’s post, you idiot. He talked only about UofO, not state colleges and universities.

    eagle eye: “Probably several of them would go under, maybe everything except UO and OSU. Would you go for that?”
    ====

    That is exactly what the ex-prof is talking about… UO, and only UO! Not OSU. Not the other colleges (now U’s; Monmouth, Ashland, etc)

    And I think he may be correct. Privatizing UO could benefit UO and Oregon. And that does not include (nor would it need to include) any other institution other than UO.

    Learn to read, you idiot eye!

    • eagle eye

      Anon Ex — thanks for the dignified and charming discussion, I’m sure you were a really great classroom leader!

      What part of “I would think that low state funding would count as a plus with you guys, not a minus. Wouldn’t you rather have zero funding?” do you think is nonsense? Isn’t that the logic of what Jerry is saying?

      On the second part, you’re right, the prof was only talking about privatizing UO. I was kind of extending the logic to the whole system — and I suspect — but I don’t know, that’s why I asked — that Jerry might like that idea, it sure sounds like it from the original post, he doesn’t seem to care much for having a system of public higher education.

      Anyhow, as the wise student says, even letting UO off the state tether is probably a pipe dream, let alone privatizing the whole system. But UO would have the best chance of making a go of it on its own, it might be the only one.

      Do you disagree with anything I (and others) had to say about the ranking of the Oregon public colleges, including UO?

  • Jerry

    Yes, it would be great to have U of O go private. They could finally do what they want without interfence from the state.

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