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.