Re: Contributing to Society

From: Technotranscendence (
Date: Tue Jan 08 2002 - 08:29:21 MST

On Tuesday, January 08, 2002 8:17 AM Kai Becker
>> Consider your average slum in the USA, government supplies the
>> private enterprise supplies the automobiles. There are far more good
>> than good schools in that slum. Why do you suppose that's true?
> Hm. Because good schooling costs more than good cars? Because people
> more in good cars than in good schooling? Because the amount invested
> the government for schools is less than people want to spend on their
> Because cars as broken as the public school system wouldn't drive at
> Now, why do you think that these two variables are related?

Where I live in the US, New Jersey, the state government spends on
average approximately $11,000 per year per pupil. How much does the
average American in New Jersey spend on cars per year? I bet it's much
lower than that. The method of supporting public schools is forced
payments from tax-payers. There is thus a disconnect between the buyer
of educational services (the tax payers) and the consumers of them.
That being the case, costs are not as big an influence on spending in
the system. Car buying, on the whole, combines costs and benefits and
is usually funded privately. Also, since the government chooses how to
run the school system and not the consumer of that system (despite
voting -- which, again, comes down to voice vs. exit options*) we should
expect increasing costs and declining quality in education with respect
to cars. In fact, this does seem to be exactly what we see.

(Of course, education does take longer and the results are not as
immediately noticeable as in a car purchase, but there are still
measurable results in education -- even if they are more difficult to
implement and track. Part of this, too, might be the result -- no pun
intended -- of not having a market system of education. In a free
market, no doubt, easy measures would arise. I bet, under such a
system, _Consumer Reports_ might have an school issue devoted to
choosing the best schools. Certainly, this goes on at the college level
and for private schools as they exist now.)


Daniel Ust

* The distinction coms from Myron Lieberman's 1989 book _Privatization
and Educational Choice_. A voice option is where the party to a
relationship can improve the relationship only through some internal
mechanism of complaint or communication. In this context, voting,
attending board of education meetings, and lobbying politicians are the
main methods of changing the public education system open to parents.
An exit option is where a party to a relationship can leave the
relationship. Almost every market transaction fits this paradigm and
quite a few other types of relationships, such as marriage, friendship,
family, and even membership in most organizations (political parties,
churches, the Extropy Institute). Does anyone doubt that the exit
option is much more powerful in changing relationships? Even the
implicit threat of it makes other parties involved in such relationships
more amenable to change and makes such relationships more dynamic.

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Fri Nov 01 2002 - 13:37:33 MST