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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Current Mindset

My daughter started kindergarten this year and as I wanted the best option for her, I spent a lot of time visiting schools and classrooms last spring. I finally settled on a charter school for her and went about the enrollment process. In order for her to attend, I would need to pay tuition for her first year and since I didn't have the money, I went in search of a scholarship for her (yes, there are scholarships for kindergarten). I found a private program and went through the qualification process and my daughter got the scholarship. I needed to take some paperwork to their office the other day and wound up getting into a discussion with the program director about the stimulus package and the fine job our current president is doing. While she agreed that she didn't like the stimulus package, she found it acceptable because at least he is doing something. It wasn't the first time I had heard this or something similar to it regarding the exorbitant spending packages the current administration is approving. It made me wonder what people think government has been doing up till now.

I was further disturbed by this conversation because the whole purpose of this scholarship program is to further the interests of b etter education, but on the whole, the people running the show didn't seem to know much about the way that markets, capitalism, or economics function. If the people promoting better education don't consider economics to be important, then who is going to champion this cause, besides economists, who no one listens to anyway. This made me wonder if Caplan is really correct about education increasing good choices on the part of voters. I'm beginning to think that they are all irrational and that the only way that education will help is if it is specifically directed at the problem, because obviously general higher education is not going to be enough.

There seems to be this mindset that government needs to fix this problem, but no one seems to be looking at the fact that our economy probably wouldn't be in this mess if not for the fact that government has been "doing something". I wonder what people would think if government stopped "doing something" about interfering in markets and started doing nothing instead. Maybe good old fashioned free market capitalism could then "do something" to correct all the mistakes that our policymakers have been enacting.

Comments:
When education is "public education" do you suppose Caplan's analysis applies with respect to "rational irrationality?" Are there perhaps reasons to suspect that "educators"/"education" can be rationally irrational?
 
I think that the fact that government expenditure funds schools causes them to feel obligated to uphold "the hand that feeds them" In order to do so, they have to either look the other way or rationalize the irrationality.
 
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