Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Detroit's Free Market by Akindele Akinyemi


The Detroit City Council is finally preparing to embrace A Land Bank Authority. Of course, you have Councilwoman Jo Ann Watson and Councilman Kwame Kenyatta who will vote against it. In fact, Watson said that instead she favors a land trust where the land is owned and governed by the community, not a pseudo-private board.
I would not trust ANY community in Detroit with land. That is a socialist concept of thinking that would go up in flames.
The other thing I would like to propose is embracing a free market economy in Detroit. I have been promoting the concept of free market economies and free market education for quite some time now. The leadership in the City of Detroit should be moving towards free market enterprises and not catering to the unions.
We cannot build an "Africa-Town" based on socialist politics. It would not work.
Government welfare has helped cause more black suffering that just about any other government policy in the past 50 years.
And with the collapse of the Detroit Public Schools it is time to turn to educational options.
Detroit would benefit from a free-market capitalist system instead of the current socialist program in place.
First, the process of globalization means preparing our children to compete in a society that is geared towards building. Some Black socialists feel that globalization will work to undermine the basis of economic and social life in local communities by increasing economic volatility and job insecurity, and by undercutting the capacity for communities (and indeed states and nations) to exercise self-governance in economic affairs.
This is so far from the truth. Those who would like to see an Africa Town in Detroit would like to design it with less government and more economic flexibility.
Black socialists and people who love Detroit only also bring up the fact that free market enterprises are not necessary because this type of market would undermine the community as neighborhoods and whole cities are regularly abandoned by businesses and residents in favor of newer, less concentrated settlements, bringing deleterious fiscal, social, and political impacts on communities.
Whatever.
This is why I favor regionalization as a means to streamline services here in Wayne County. It would be good if we can change the city charter to MERGE the Detroit Police Department with the Wayne County Sheriff Department to one Metro Police Department.
But no community, regionalized or not, is going to come back until we fully embrace free market education. I am glad to hear that Mayor Kilpatrick is calling on more charter schools in Detroit. Perhaps we can expedite the bill in Lansing to get Wayne County Community College to authorize charter schools in the city.
But before we talk about free market education we need to control the weeds at the Detroit Public Schools. The weeds I'm taking about are the administrators.
I call them weeds because you know what happens when weeds grow out of control? They make your yard look bad. We need to allow free market entrepreneurs loaded with conservative educational perspectives to help change our schools of choice around. We do not need any old administrators from DPS running our charter schools. The reason? If they come from a failing DPS school with a liberal mentality what makes you think they can run a charter schools any better?
Detroit's comeback economically will ride on free market education and not government ran schools. School choice leads to competitive education. Citizens paying taxes on the money they earn should have some say about how that money is applied. Vouchers and tax credits allow parents to do just that by using some of the money collected in taxes for tuition at their preferred school. This is consistent with a moral perspective, as Notre Dame Law Professors Nicole and Richard Garnett point out: "The perceived secular and, at times, overtly anti-religious tone of public education requires that these parents pay what is essentially a tax on their religious objections. They pay tuition to a private school in addition to the taxes they already pay to support government schools." ("School Choice, the First Amendment, and Social Justice," 2000) Parents of all incomes should have this right to use their money as they see fit–in this case, choosing the best school for their children to attend.
In addition, those who warn that vouchers or tax credits will not cover transportation costs of students need to keep this in mind: a competitive market will invite a number of new schools to open across existing districts. To get the competitive edge, many competing schools will also offer transportation to students who do not live in the immediate area. Options and services increase as the market operates freely.
Urban Michigan (Benton Harbor, Saginaw, Flint, Inkster, Ecorse, Highland Park, etc) will also benefit from free market education. Can you imagine opening a charter school for physical therapy or real estate? What about social work or clinical psychology? This is where we are going in the 21st century not rely on government to take care of our people.
In Detroit, we should be building on free market principles. Politically, we should endorse candidates that are going to bring free-market enterprise and conservative principles to the community and not rely on government to take care of them. Black people have to stop listening to the likes of Jo Ann Watson and others who are keeping us dependent on big government to take care of us. These liberals are blocking progress in our city and if we want Detroit to become a world class city I strongly recommend that we embrace free market politicians who in turn will create political balance between Black Democrats and Black Republicans so we can have bargaining power at the table. We are not arguing about philosophical differences when we are at the table. This is about embracing an educational reform movement to bring about economic prosperity in our community. Anyone who is not on board with this should not be elected or taken seriously.
If the Detroit School Board cannot get their act together then parents and educators should move forward on a paradigm in which the state plays no role whatsoever. We will not elect any school board member who do not embrace free market education. So that means people like Jonathon Kinloch will have to step down. Furthermore, parents should not have to pay anymore school taxes, and no more school-attendance laws. This would be a process where parents, in their role as consumers, are as sovereign as they are in the software and computer industries. A system in which families decide the best educational vehicle for each of their children and in which entrepreneurs are leapfrogging over themselves to best satisfy the ever-increasing demands on them.
Again, public schools are run by the government, which ought to cause everyone’s eyebrows to raise. When was the last time you saw government run anything well? Social Security? Medicare? Public housing? Michigan? Detroit? Benton Harbor?
Think about it. Detroit Public Schools is a socialist concept, and we all know how successful socialism has been all over the world.

Detroit Public Schools consists of a government board of politicians. That should make anyone suspicious. The board plans the educational decisions of thousands of children in a top-down, command-and-control process. Parents are required to send their children into the system, on pain of being fined or even imprisoned for failing to do so (or for failing to follow some other government-approved educational plan for their children). The schools are funded by mandatory taxes imposed on everyone, even people who don’t have children. Textbooks are provided by state government officials.
Have this worked? No. Pay attention to this next statement. Have you ever wondered why all those grassroots organizations are fighting for control of the school board but never are in the classroom helping the children? How can you help the children when you cannot even comprehend school polices because your reading level is that of a 5th grader? Are you smarter than your 5th grader?
Detroit will never compete in a free market enterprise if it is relying on a broke system. Detroit Schools can get rid of violence if (1) ending school compulsory-attendance laws so that wacko killer types are not required to be there? (2) ending government schooling entirely so that defenseless victims are not forced to be there and (3) embracing a totally free market in education so that young people, with the guidance of their families, will be free to seek their own particular hopes and dreams in the manner that best suits them rather than being forced into an artificial, government-concocted pressure cooker?
It's time for young educators to fully embrace educational entrepreneurship and stop relying on old schools like Detroit Public Schools.
To further prove my point I would like to take you across the world. The Cato Institute published a paper by James Tooley and Pauline Dixon showing that private schools serving the poorest people on Earth, in the urban slums and rural villages of Africa and India, are doing a better job, at a far lower cost, than their government-run competitors. These schools are not simply unregulated. In many cases, their respective governments did not even know that they existed. They are also the fastest-growing part of the education sector in the developing world, already enrolling majorities of students in several of the areas studied – including several of the poorest areas.
The point?

By denying parents the right to a competitive product, the government system of schools continues to provide low-performing, unsafe, and inefficient schools. Granted, there are many fine public schools in the country that truly prepare children for life with a solid education, but there are just as many that do not, making the case for competition even more sensible. The answer is not pumping more tax money into a command system; the failed socialist experiments of Eastern Europe have proven that no matter how much money is budgeted for a government program, it is the lack of competition that causes such systems to become unaccountable to its forced consumers.
You want to keep young people in Michigan? Embrace free market enterprises.

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