America as One Big Private Gift Shop

Source: Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, Brennan Center for Justice blog, June 6, 2014

…The argument over what should be public and what should be private has recently heated up in lower Manhattan. As the 9/11 Memorial Museum opens, the public is debating the propriety of the $24 admission fee, which applies not just for entrance into the museum, but also for the privilege of visiting the final resting place of so many. Also causing offense are the expensive tchotchkes that are being hocked at the gift shop, which recently led to a change in policy on which items would be sold, but did not result in closing the gift shop….From private parking meters, to private jails, to the entrance fee for the private 9/11 Museum, to the cost of running for public office with private dollars, the private market is swamping public goods. I can cope with the average gift shop attached to the average museum. But even in our society, there should still be a short list of things just shouldn’t be for sale. Elected offices and mass graves from a national tragedy should be on that short list. That’s where the gift shopping of America should stop and the public interest should prevail….