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I'm not say that a federal body should provided such services (they would have trouble managing education which is what we see even today) but I think history shows having an educated citizenry is a very very good idea. Of course you can say that private education systems are better at educating more people more efficiently but to that I have to wonder: where's the evidence and history behind that? Public education was one of the first things industrializing nations did to secure their futures and has been shown to be economically beneficial to education children as they add far more to GDP and well being than non-educated people.

So what are the economical reasons for not wanting government provided education?

asked Apr 27 '14 at 09:32

TheBucket's gravatar image

TheBucket
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edited Apr 29 '14 at 00:14


What is the economic argument against government-provided education? ... [W]hat are the economical reasons for not wanting government provided education?

The key "reasons for not wanting government provided education" are not primarily economic. The claim is not that "private education systems are better at educating more people more efficiently" than a government-provided educational system. Rather, the essential argument against government involvement in education is that it necessarily violates individual rights and involves initiation of physical force against taxpayers, parents, and many others associated with government-provided education, and in the process severely degrades or destroys the quality of children's education.

This is a very basic argument that also applies to the whole range of possible instances of any 'X' that is regulated or provided by government, where 'X' can be education or just about any other man-made goods or services. The only 'X' that is a proper function of government is to uphold individual rights by providing whatever retaliatory physical force is needed to protect citizens from initiation of physical force by criminals, foreign invaders, or in civil disputes with each other. (And the reason for this will not be found primarily in economics.)

I'm not say[sic] that a federal body should provided[sic] such services (they would have trouble managing education which is what we see even today)....

Yes. And the problems with a government-provided system of education are far worse and far deeper than this brief formulation acknowledges.

...history shows having an educated citizenry is a very very good idea.... Public education was one of the first things industrializing nations did to secure their futures and has been shown to be economically beneficial to education[sic] children as they add far more to GDP and well being than non-educated people.

Objectivism does not view the issue from a collective "GDP" perspective, but by the standard of man's life qua man, i.e., what is most beneficial for each individual's own life (without sacrificing others), not what somehow 'best serves society' (usually today on an egalitarian standard of what is "best").

Historically, of course, the fundamental identifications which the philosophy of Objectivism provides were not fully known (had not yet been comprehended) at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. Objectivism's originator, Ayn Rand, had not been born yet, and it took her most of a lifetime (half a century) to reach the full identification of Objectivism. There is no question that an education is a great value to the individual. The issue is what happens to that value (and to the valuers) whenever government tries to regulate and/or provide it.

Frequently in Ayn Rand's writings, one will find philosophical arguments against government interference with the operation of free markets, combined with an assertion that enterprises such as education should be privately owned and run and would be much better run. In her 1964 interview in Playboy, for example, she said at one point (pamphlet reprint, p. 12 of 16):

Now let's get this straight. My position is fully consistent. Not only the post office, but streets, roads, and above all, schools, should all be privately owned and privately run. I advocate the separation of state and economics. The government should be concerned only with those issues which involve the use of force. This means: the police, the armed services, and the law courts to settle disputes among men. Nothing else. Everything else should be privately run and would be much better run.

Note that the central reason for separating state and economics is not primarily to make enterprises better run economically, but because of the issue of physical force, which rests on the implications of man's nature, not on the economic principles of division-of-labor markets.

But note also that Ayn Rand did see "better run" as a secondary consequence of the separation. If the question is actually seeking a more detailed description of what a fully private, free-market system of education would look like, the question doesn't specifically say so, unless it was intended but not quite stated directly. The question as formulated (as I understand it) reads more like an attack on Objectivism's conclusions than a search for greater concrete description of rational alternatives to government controls. The question demands economic evidence supporting opposition to government controls, and the questioner has explained elsewhere that he seeks to avoid non-economic (e.g., philosophically principled) arguments. But the details of an implementation of broad principles have to begin with the principles themselves, which is what philosophy provides and what has been lacking throughout history prior to Objectivism. The Valley (Galt's Gulch) in Atlas Shrugged provides a strong indication of how free markets can function, and a wide range of economics books in the Austrian and Classical schools can also be very helpful in implementing the broad philosophical prescriptions. Refer to various topics in The Ayn Rand Lexicon for brief indications, as well. Such elements of economic freedom as still exist in the world today can also provide helpful clues.

One does not need a fully detailed concretization of freedom to conclude that it would be far preferable to government-dominated alternatives. And if mixtures of freedom and controls seem viable, Objectivism teaches us to inquire further as to which side of the mixture is most beneficial to man's life, which side harms or destroys it, and what happens to mixtures over time, for better or worse, as one side or the other comes into question.

answered Apr 29 '14 at 22:11

Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

Ideas for Life ♦
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Asked: Apr 27 '14 at 09:32

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Last updated: May 15 '14 at 05:20