Idaho's Weekly Journal of Local & National Commentary Week 2815


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by Free Market Duck

Pro-Choice Free Market Schools

   Idaho's public education budget topped $1.3 billion in year 2004 – 65% of the state's $2.0 billion budget.  We are no better off than California’s school districts, or New York’s.  The big question is why?

   It is not an economic coincidence that all 50 state legislatures in America are going bankrupt because of huge deficits for public education.  What’s the problem?

   Having researched and written about this issue extensively, I have come to the following conclusions:

   First, education is simply another commodity in the free market, an exchange of services, or information, between teachers and parents – much like the exchange of information between the news media and their readers.  Education contains no inherent properties that exempt it from basic economics such as supply and demand, competition, or prices.

   Imagine if we treated our food industry as we have treated education.  You would be taxed for a state grocery store and be required to shop for groceries in your state grocery district.  You could shop at private grocery stores but you would still be required to pay taxes for your district’s state grocery store.  A full ramification of this analogy can be read in my previous column:  State Grocery Stores.

   Needless to say, a state grocery store system would eventually go bankrupt.  Once again, we have pretended that education is a commodity that should be monopolized, socialized, and run by the state rather than the free market.

   Second, the basis for establishing public education rests upon the non sequitur, or oxymoron, that every child has a “right to receive” an education.  But a want is not a right.  Nobody has the “right to receive" from anybody else.  If I have the right to receive potatoes from you, and you have the right to receive tomatoes from me, then we have established reciprocal rights of involuntary servitude, or slavery.  Reciprocal “rights to receive” is a contradictory notion and can never be implemented.  Rather, everybody has the “right to freely give or exchange.”  In this manner, we can voluntarily participate in the freedom of exchange of ideas, commodities, and services – including education.

   While we may have good intentions for one of our most important commodities -- our children’s education -- we have unfortunately embarked upon a losing economic methodology that can never work.  For the same basic reasons that socialist economics doesn’t work for Amtrak or the U.S. Post Office or the USSR or all of the socialist nations of the world, it cannot work for America’s “Leave No Child Behind” program either.  To not understand basic economics is to perpetuate more taxes, more debates, and more educational failures in every state in the Union.  Meanwhile, our children lose and are the true victims of this Marxian educational experiment.

   What is the solution?

   Due to the huge boondoggle that state education has wrapped itself into over the last 50 years, we need a transition – perhaps 3 years -- from our current socialist education system to a Pro-Choice, Pay-As-You-Go Free Market Education system.

   After this transition, the state will not participate as a socialist Big Brother and there will be no taxes for schools in the same way that there are no taxes for “state grocery stores.”  Public education will phase into Pro-Choice Free Market Education.  There exist many free market choices such as Home Schooling, K12 Internet Education, and other private and parochial options that you and I have never thought of – yet.

   Parents need to accept the responsibility for choosing their child’s education.  You currently spend more time shopping for a new car than for your child’s education.  Public education will soon be bankrupt so you should start shopping now.  It’s up to parents to make the transition.  You already know how to shop for cars, homes, computers, CDs, life insurance, which movie to go to, and how much butter to pour on your popcorn, right?

   You say Idaho can’t afford the transition?  Idaho owns $70 billion of public school real estate.  If we sold it and spent $1 billion per year, Idahoans could finance their children’s free market education transition for the next 70 years.  Is that long enough for a transition?  Start selling it off and refund the money to all Idaho citizens so parents can spend it on free market Educational Choices.

   One last thing.  Notice that free market education solves all the current church-state debates regarding tax credits, tax vouchers, saying “One Nation, Under God” at school, placing the Ten Commandments, the Bible, or the Koran in school hallways, passing out “free” condoms (or not), teaching sex education (or not), and a host of other debatable curricula.  Free Market Education also does not differentiate between "resident" and "non-resident" students since there will be no school taxation, only private enterprise.

   Also, Free Market Education solves the problem of seniors, non-parents, and parents whose children are out of school being forced for life to pay for the education of other people’s children on the flakey premise that everybody benefits from little Johnny becoming a brain surgeon one day.  Note that one does not receive a tax refund if little Johnny becomes a wino instead.

   Finally, no $1.3 billion in taxation, fraud, and tax abuse for questionable public education excesses in Idaho.  It’s not for lack of good intentions that public education has failed; it’s simply basic economics.

   $1.3 billion.  What a savings for the taxpayer!  Time to give education control back to the parents and teachers. 

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