I need to stock up on some supplies today, so once again I have to choose between Target and Wal-Mart. Living equidistant from the two stores, I don’t consider driving time a factor in my decision. What I like about this is that both stores seem to be constantly working to make me happier about spending with them. They focus on different things and have different approaches, but they want the same thing – my money (and yours). They succeed only when they make me a bit happier and keep me that way.
This is what is so great about competition – people in companies working to please me better than their competitors will. The fruits of competition are under appreciated. In fact, if you want to look at the troubled parts of our system, troubles seem to pile up wherever there is little competition. Consider K-12 education or healthcare.
Of course, every institution would like to avoid competition – competition is hard work. And most institutions lobby and donate to make life harder for their competitors (and harder for consumers) Lots of politicians succumb. But we gradually make progress. After all, politicians have competition too!