Sunday, July 17, 2005

Public Employees Profit And So Does The Governor

Officials in the ASG have been spitting out a lot of rhetoric about the evils of profit and money. It’s very typical of politicians to take the moral high ground when it comes to this subject. However, we should always question their integrity whenever they criminalize moneymaking activities.

Togiola says we need a government airline because “airlines are only looking for profit and gain.” So our governor is implying that neither he nor public employees look out for profit and gain, and so travel services are better off in their hands rather than in those of greedy entrepreneurs.

But what does it mean to profit? Profit is the money one makes after paying for his costs. A businessperson profits after he makes enough money to pay his employees, rent, utilities and other expenses. How about public employees and the governor, do they profit in a similar fashion?

It turns out that they do! Public employees and the governor do not work for free nor do they break even. They need to make more money than it costs them to pay for breakfast, drive to work, catch the bus, eat lunch and all the other expenses they incur to complete their work day. What they make in excess of their daily costs is their profit!

And if public employees were not trying to increase their profits, then why do they keep asking for pay raises?

Profit entices entrepreneurs to do things at the lowest cost available. The lower their costs, the higher their profits. Non-profit and government agencies do not have the incentive of lowering costs because they can always raise taxes and do not face competition. Accountability is not sought unless someone kicks them in the butt (FBI, DOI, GAO, etc.).

It is not common for the spirit of charity to be lost on profit seeking individuals. Many successful people and organizations find value in giving away their money to causes they care about. In his book, The Enterprise of Education, James Tooley notes, “The ‘cost per achievement point’ in the private unaided schools (in India) is less than half that in the government schools (in India).” He also goes on to say, “Impressively, the great majority of the (private unaided) schools offer significant number of free places – up to 20 percent – for the poorest students, allocated on the basis claims of need checked informally in the community.”

For-profit schools doing better than public schools and even providing free seats for the poorest of poor. Wow. I bet you won't hear that from a politician.

Togiola should put the blame for the lack of airline competition where it belongs: the Jones Act (Merchant Marine Act of 1920). This federal law prohibits foreign carriers from operating between two U.S. ports, and that is why Hawaiian Airlines is our sole provider. But considering our racism and anti-immigration stance, perhaps foreign airlines shouldn’t even bother with blessing us with their for-profit business.


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