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A Classic Public/Private Clash

Photo: iStockphoto

My mom passed away recently, and we’re planning a memorial service in her home city, where none of us three offspring lives.  There are lots of expenses:  the service; food afterwards; planes and hotels for all of the children, grandchildren and any great-grandchildren who can come.
Financing this event illustrates general issues in the division between the public and private sectors.  I view Mom’s estate as the equivalent of the public sector (since all offspring share equally).  So my idea is to have the estate pay for the public good — the service — and also the food, etc. at the service. Each participant is responsible for his/her own travel, hotel, etc. — private financing  My wife pointed out that some of the siblings can’t afford the travel/hotel as well as others can, and could be subsidized by the “public sector.” I responded that we shouldn’t create incentives to travel or stay lavishly, nor to have huge numbers of relatives paid to attend.  A classic public-private, equity-efficiency clash.