Public funding for education
Posted by aogSunday, 03 November 2002 at 19:35 TrackBack Ping URL
A post about the US potentially withdrawing from the UN population accord on the Brothers Judd blog lead to some comments that reminded me of a position I've changed stance on. This is the public funding of primary education for children. Originally as libertarian I opposed this, a key argument being that it represented a transfer of wealth from childless adults to parents. Over the years, however, I've come to realize that there are externalities that breaks this argument. This is the fact of retirement. No matter how much a person saves for retirement, that wealth is useless without a new, productive generation. All of Bill Gates stock is so much paper if Microsoft can't hire another generation of employees. There are other arguments, such as that (overall) the best value is obtain if the people purchasing the goods are using their own money, so that a private funding would be the most efficient. But that may not be enough - overall it is probably better to give every child the opportunity to learn and become productive, even if by doing so the spending is non optimal. We can say, however, the provision by a government monoply is likely to be close to pessimal. So what I support is vouchers at a state level. That would get us more value for the money and solve those vexing (if artificial) "funding level" crises (why is it that those who complain the most about such things never turn to vouchers? could they have another agenda?).