Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Business

March 30, 2014

The ideological battle continues

Who should be in charge? Governments or private entities? If government, should it be the feds, the states, or the locals? What level of government, if any, should control transportation, education, health care, libraries, and almost anything else you can imagine?

Hoosiers and all Americans have problems answering these questions. Economists often say that where the actions of one entity result in significant effects on others (externalities), control should go to a larger unit.

What happens in one library district probably has little impact on the neighboring district. Libraries are considered purely local and not all Indiana communities have libraries. Some people, however, believe there are lower costs of service in larger systems (economies of scale) and urge the adoption of county-wide or regional library districts.

Transportation involves many consequences for land owners, businesses and households. That’s why major decisions about transportation are national (interstate highways) with minor adjustments by states and localities.

Bridges across the Ohio River at Louisville and Evansville involve national as well as local traffic flows. The proposed Illiana Expressway, connecting I-65 in northwest Indiana with I-55 in Illinois, involves decisions about traffic and the environment for major corridors in the Chicago area.

Education has been a state concern and a local responsibility. In most places, the job done by schools has not met our aspirations. Unlike highways, schools have not been held to high professional standards. Now with Common Core as a national standard, Indiana asserts it measures performance better than the feds.

Should education, traditionally financed by localities, be run and financed by the state? That’s the Indiana trend. Or should there be a major infusion of federal funds along with federal standards?

Most folks argue schools should meet the expectations of parents and be locally controlled to meet local values. Others question parental aspirations and the validity of local values.

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