Anti-Poverty and the Education Monopoly

Thanks to the Amateur Economist blog for these two excellent pieces.

First, is Steven Horwitz’s column in The Freeman, A Libertarian Anti-Poverty Agenda.  In it, Horwitz disputes the claim by one of his readers that he “hates poor people” and provides three libertarian recommendations for reducing poverty by removing some of the structural barriers that keeps poverty around.  I wonder if his readers will be able to respond to those recommendations without resorting to ad hominems.

Second, is this quote from the Jennifer Grossman:

[A]ny provider that commands 90 percent of the market — whether we’re talking about software, phone service, or heating oil — is, by definition, a monopoly. Our government employs thousands of bureaucrats to track down and break up monopolies on the grounds that monopolies stifle competition and thereby produce bad products at high prices. Doesn’t it strike anyone as strange that the same government protects its own monopoly in education? And stranger still, that nearly everyone accepts this state of affairs as normal — as something that has always been and must always be? … [C]ompetition forces public schools into making long-overdue repairs. And it offers poor parents the choices they desperately desire.”
— Jennifer A. Grossman, Source: How Philanthropy Is Revolutionizing Education

I have a thing for such clear and obvious insights.  Grossman’s insight exposes an inconsistency in thinking that can cause people who hold it to give more serious consideration to their positions.

I predict that one reaction could be, I trust the government because it is held accountable to voters, but I don’t trust private enterprise.  To that I’d recommend the people evaluate the effectiveness of political voting vs. economic voting.  And, I’d offer the education system as a prime example of the relatively less effective political voting.

By the way, Horwitz’s second poverty reducing recommendation lines up with Grossman’s.

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5 thoughts on “Anti-Poverty and the Education Monopoly

  1. We apparently read some of the same sites, as I enjoyed both of those pieces, too.

    The other inconsistency I find amusing is this: many of the same folks who ardently support public sector unions also argue for a generally larger state welfare system and more government involvement in the economy. Yet, if the government can’t be trusted to do right by its own workers, why should we expect the government to benevolently or competently perform its duties in other areas?

  2. “And stranger still, nearly everyone accepts this state of affairs as normal…” – Jennifer Grossman

    Enter F.A. Hayek. Hayek explained socialism comes in two varieties:

    (1) in your face [e.g. first two years of the Obama administration]’,

    (2) slow insidious [e.g. progressives in the last 80 years].

    Believe Hayek even gave the example of a collectivist scheme being instituted, then several generations later the socialized scheme is considered as if its always been that way, second nature, etc.. Hence the current generation doesn’t give the scheme a second thought because the scheme takes on the attributes of “the way its always been”.

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