Last month, there was an article in the Express-News describing a multi-district program – Go Public – to better market the public schools in San Antonio. My initial reaction was that our financially strapped schools should be spending money on teaching students, not on marketing. Indeed, the article even reported that a school board trustee was similarly minded:
- Until last month, Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City ISD was one of the few traditional districts with students in Bexar County that hadn’t joined Go Public. Its board voted 4-3 to participate after a lengthy debate that included Trustee George Ricks asking how the district was going to benefit from its $15,000 contribution and questioning its appropriateness as a public expenditure. “Are we trying to steal students away from private schools?” he asked.
But another board member had a different opinion:
- The district should promote itself, board member Gary Inmon argued. “If you don’t get the positive word out, the negative word sticks, which really does hurt the entire system,” he said.
Although marketing seems wasteful to us Pollyannaish idealists, the practical person must accept that marketing is needed for government programs to compete successfully against private options. E.g., the post office, military employment.
I think there is a difference, though, when I see marketing of welfare programs, like food stamps. Yes, the SNAP program should be readily accessible and the use of food stamps should not be demeaning, but I don’t think government should be spending money encouraging people to avail themselves of welfare benefits they are entitled to. As JFK said, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”
How does this apply to the marketing of Healthcare.gov? ObamaCare seems to be a hybrid. Much of it is designed to improve the health-insurance industry for everyone, but as a practical matter, most of the coverage for those previously uninsured is merely an expansion of welfare – Medicaid. I don’t think the voters want to see a lot of ObamaCare marketing.