My grandaughter starts kindergarten this year. She and her mother are excited. As am I. In the course of registering for kindergarten her mother was presented with a list of things she would need to purchase in the way of supplies for the school year. Among those items were such things as: 15 glue sticks, 6 pencils, 6 black pencils from Office Depot, 2 boxes of markers, Kleenex, dry erase markers, a large box of sanitize wipes, a package of Playdough, coloured pencils and a box of 24 crayons. The list was much longer. All of the supplies are to be placed in the common supply to be used as needed.
I can understand the need to place the supplies in a common supply. Some of the parents of some children will not be able to afford some things and it would not be nice to deny some children the opportunity of participating in class activities on the basis of their parents financial ability. That is only right.
But the fact that the school system is asking parents to buy basic supplies to conduct a class is disturbing to me. It seems that a school district, given the money to buy the supplies could bargain with wholesale suppliers and get much better prices. As it is the parents of the students are being forced to buy at retail prices for the supplies needed in school. Doesn't this raise the cost of the education?
I suppose this ties back to the American horror at paying taxes. Rather than everyone paying a small tax and allowing their representatives at the school to purchase supplies, we prefer "pay as you go". With the unintended effect of paying higher prices for the things we need. Thus the consumers of school supplies are forced into the arms of the retailer, prices are driven up for school supplies due to the increased retail demand, and the overall cost of school supplies is raised. Not to mention the time and expense each parent will incur.
In this country we are doing the same thing on a much grander scale in our provision of medical care. Some of our leaders are trying to do away with Medicare as a government administered medical plan and move to a system of "vouchers" where we get a cash credit to use on the open market to purchase medical insurance. In fact driving customers to the insurance companies.
The Veterans Administration uses their bargaining power to good effect in their negotiations on drug prices. The VA is able to get much more favorable prices for many of the drugs they supply to veterans. The large drug companies fight tooth and nail to prevent such a system from gaining traction nationwide. But the savings are apparent in the VA system. Those type of savings could be enjoyed on a much grander scale. But it would require us to trust our elected representatives and to demand that they diligently work on our behalf. Medical care, just like school supplies, are needed. They both have cost. That cost needs to be managed.
I wonder if Americans are so engulfed in self-doubt that they think we can't do something on a grand scale anymore. We could have an efficient, cost effective medical system that served all of the citizens of this country. But it will have to be WE. We can't go about controlling our costs by giving government money, through taxes, to individuals and expecting them to get a good deal on their own. Big insurance and big medicine will take the money, give the least they can and then they will lobby the government to give the individual MORE money to spend on health care. That is how it will happen if we delude ourselves into thinking that the "free" market will produce low prices in a commodity that everyone needs. It is corporate influence on Congress that is pushing the privatize Medicare idea. The corporate idea of "privatize" is to put tax dollars in their shareholders pockets. Do you think they will welcome a cutback in that government money in order to economize? Do you think they will embrace cutbacks in re-imbursement? If history is any guide, no! You can look to the defense establishment for your answer.
Later that night:
And while I was cruising my fav blog sites I found this one: