A libertarian inclined blog for teachers and learners of all ages. Comments, emails and links to other educational stuff welcome.

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Next entry: I am having what the Americans call a learning experience
Previous entry: Exclusions overturned
Tuesday March 18 2008

I have been remiss in keeping up with the Adam Smith Institute Blog of late, having recently discovered that I have not even had it on my blogroll here, this being because I used to write for it but then stopped writing for it and took it away from the “other blogs I write for” list, but then omitted to add it to the regular blogroll.

There have recently been two more specifically educational postings by Madsen Pirie in his Common Errors series, namely this:

“A university or college education is a public good that society should pay for.”

... and this:

“Schooling should seek to make children equal.”

But the latest Common Error ...

“Freedom is all very well for the strong, but the poor and the weak come off worse without the state services.”

... also has a strong educational vibe to it.  Quote:

It is not just the “strong” who benefit from freedom. Most people benefit by giving effect to preferences and having competitors struggling to supply them. Everyone benefits by the improvement which innovations and new types of service bring when the service is private. It might be the strong who take the lead in demanding better services, but the improvements made as a result usually spread down to benefit others. It is the discriminating customers who improve the product, but everyone gains from the improvement. Even those who know nothing about electronics have their products improved by the actions of those who do.

There is good reason to suppose that if the poor and weak were given the same type of choices that others have, they would get better services than those doled out to them under universal state provision. Choice of schools, as in Sweden, leads to improvement in education and in parental satisfaction. Choice in healthcare would achieve similar improvement.

I am more than ever convinced that if the entire state education system were to drop dead tomorrow morning, that would be a great improvement for some people immediately, for many people in a few weeks, for most people in a few months, and for almost everyone in a few years.  After a decade, the results would be miraculous.  Some of the money saved should be spent on more policemen and more temporary prisons and juvenile detention centres, and in a perfect world, the rest of the money no longer wasted would be knocked off the income tax.  But even if the money no longer wasted was instead spent on something more frivolous, less well-meaning, and hence merely less harmful than state education, like jobs for the otherwise unfrocked bureaucrats doing absolutely nothing but write bitter reports for each other to read and snarl about, that would still be a great improvement for the rest of us.