In his letter “Do away with public education,” (May 6), Charles Gill wrote, “As we all know, government doesn’t work.” I have news for you, pal: “We” firmly believe, by the tens of millions of us, that government plays a vital and positive role in a free society. What about the Post Office; Social Security; Medicare; World War II; and the national park system, to name a few of the more obvious successes?
Gill also wrote, “The best way to accomplish anything in the United States is through the free market system.” To that I would say the surest route to abuse of the market system is deregulation. President Reagan pushed through the deregulation of the savings-and-loan industry, and it resulted in the crisis that required a bailout by innocent taxpayers. California deregulated the electricity industry, and that gave rise to a gaming of the system that emptied the pockets of millions of ratepayers. Deregulation of the banking industry brought forth the housing bubble and the near collapse of the whole financial system.
Regulation of markets by the government is the consequence of demonstrable failure of the markets to regulate themselves. Just as the SEC was created in response to widespread abuses in the stock market, so, too, must the banking system now be reigned in to protect the public from the irresponsibility of giant banks and insurance companies. In short, we need big government to protect us from big business.
Government isn’t perfect and public education isn’t perfect. But the replacement of the public education system by the free market would be to replace the ideal of opportunity for all with the law of the jungle: survival of the fittest.