Imagine you are living during World War II in a major city in the United States and operate a flower business.  You notice that there are many people in the area who have lost loved ones in the war.  You decide to start tracking all of the war dead in the city you can find and arrange a special flower arrangement with a nice message of gratitude to be delivered at the memorial services for each of the fallen servicemen in the city.

When you first do it you feel great.  You are providing a service and a comfort to the families of those who died while serving the country.  You even find that sometimes your flowers were the only ones at the memorial service because the people couldn’t afford flowers.

As the war goes on, the service you provide becomes a significant financial drain.  You are passionate and driven to provide these flowers and messages because you have seen the way people are touched and comforted by your offering to the grieving families.  You now have a problem.  If you continue to provide this service to everyone, you will go bankrupt.

You start to make some cutbacks, providing a not quite as nice floral arrangement and when you already know the family of the soldier has the money for flowers you only provide the nice message.  This works for a while but it is still quite a struggle for you to continue to provide this service.

Along comes your competitor.  The flower business has always been competitive but in these hard times it has only gotten worse.  Your competitor is a much smaller company, believes in the work you are doing and thinks it is a noble and wonderful thing you are doing.  Your competitor, at no cost to you, offers to help.  Your competitor offers to provide a delivery truck, flowers, nice messages, and a delivery driver to go wherever you need  him to go to help take the pressure off your business.

The only catch is that people will know that your competitor is delivering the flowers and not you.  You are worried the competitor will do a better job and people may like the competitor’s service better than yours.  You decline the help, even if you can no longer afford to provide the current level of service and are facing a financial shortfall.

Is that a good or a bad idea?  Would a wise and serious businessperson do this if their first concern was the grieving families?  It seems that the florist is letting other considerations get in the way of providing an important service to deserving families.

A similar situation has cropped up in Utah.  The Jordan School District has raised taxes to pay for school costs in their district.  The area is growing and needs new schools and teachers.

American Preparatory Academy (APA) offered to build, staff, operate, and fund a school for the Jordan School District (JSD).  The school would be wherever JSD told them to build help take the pressure off the District.  The District declined.

The stated reason JSD gave for the refusal was that APA had a more restrictive charter to help in English as a Second Language programs when the population of minority students in JSD is shrinking, not growing.  The State Charter School Board offered to alter the charter for APA enough so that their limited charter would not be an issue.

It appears that the JSD does not want competition in case the charter school does better than the regular government operated ones.  The JSD should quit hiding from competition and do a better job teaching students.

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