Private/Public Competition: A cause of American Greatness

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I love strong competition between public and private sectors of society. It’s not so much the idea of competition that attracts me, as it is the idea of opposites making each other stronger by pushing one another.

Over the past couple of decades I have become suspicious of unchecked unilateral power. I can’t see anything thriving continuously without being challenged by a counter force.

One of the healthy things about my religion is the burgeoning of the outside scholarly class doing research into church history independent of my religion’s leadership. In this instance my religion is a private institution and scholars are from universities that are public or at a minimum secular.

I feel more comfortable when opposites press up against each other. For me it’s a kind of insurance policy. With entities competing, you get better results.

Public/Private Competition In Education

In general, one of my favorite themes is the idea of public/ private competition in education.

Public education leans heavily on progressive curriculum, while private education strives to implement different idealistic notions of life. For example, private education might be sponsored by religious institutions which strive to educate young minds to appreciate it is perfectly rational to believe both in god and the processes of reason. Catholic colleges are particularly adept at doing this.

On the other hand, I went to public schools from kindergarten all the way up to my college bachelor’s degree. To my knowledge I never heard any personal profession of religiosity from my teachers. I was taught evolution, modern literature, and the separation of church and state. Never once, that I can remember was I taught there was any strong contribution of religion to any of these subjects. These subjects stand independent of any private or personal interpretation.

However, for the five years of my graduate studies I attended private universities. One was a religiously sponsored university (BYU), and the other was a religiously sponsored university that has remained private but has adopted a curriculum that is secular or non-religious (USC).

BYU stressed that there is something that must be added to your graduate studies, namely inspiration, revelation, and authority. All things can’t be determined solely by physical measurement and rationalism.

On the other hand USC stresses strong independence from public governmental intrusion. The private citizen acting with other private citizens are capable of remarkable discoveries if left to explore truth freely.

USC/UCLA Competition

When it comes to competition, there is none more intense than between USC and UCLA. UCLA is one of the great public institutions of higher learning in the world.

Both institutions focus on secular learning, but UCLA tends to lean liberal in its student body, while USC leans conservative. Separated by only ten miles, both fight for the best faculty and the greatest amount of research dollars, in order to turn out sophisticated liberal and conservative graduates.

Private Enterprise

America’s private sector is strong. Private enterprises of all kinds demonstrate the creativity and grit of individuals. What you create and what you freely support is what you love. The results of great sacrifice seldom falter under pressure.

In this regard, I have helped to create four privately owned and operated companies. I have a huge bias for private entrepreneurism. HUGE!

On the other hand America’s public sector is also strong. Public efforts to serve the common good bare witness to the good of what people are capable. Just think of the creation of the U. S. Constitution – the enduring document that established the world’s first democracy. In my mind its creation was the greatest feat of the last 600 hundred years, no, maybe the greatest feat in human history.

Its Source of Greatness

To my knowledge, no other country in the world has a more robust public/private competition than America. People who sell one side short are lacking vision. America is great because of private/public competition. America, borrowing sentence structure from de Tocqueville, will cease to be great if it ceases to believe in the power of public/private competition.