Re: Reforming Education

Dan Fabulich (
Sat, 9 Oct 1999 21:04:40 -0400 (EDT)

'What is your name?' 'Bryan Moss.' 'IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT YOUR NAME IS!!!':

> > Yes, that explains why parents never pay lots of money to send their kids
> > to high quality private schools. And why no parent would ever sacrifice
> > his/her life for the life of their child.
> Dan, this ignores my question - if I pay money to give my child an education
> what financial reward do I get in return?

The whole PREMISE of this question is faulty. People don't act so as to get financial rewards, they act for UTILITY rewards. Financial rewards correlate with utility rewards to the extent that financial rewards can be used to buy whatever we desire. However, we should not expect that everything we do is done so as to acquire more money. This claim is obviously false.

The fact of the matter is that raising children makes people happy, in a similar way that buying a piece of candy makes people happy. You don't buy candy because you expect to be paid back for it later; you buy candy because you want that sweet taste in your mouth, and that sweet taste makes you happy. Similarly, people don't raise children on the presumption that they'll get paid for it; they raise children because raising children, and paying for it, makes them happy.

Similarly, we should not look to CREATE such financial rewards, either. This would be comparable to paying people to buy candy. If such an institution to pay people to buy candy were created, people would buy more candy than they actually wanted to eat, on the grounds that they could use the money to buy things they REALLY wanted (like paying for a good private school for their kids). As a result, an inefficient amount of candy would be purchased, and overall utility would decrease.

Even if we WERE to try to pay parents for raising their children well, you run into even worse problems when you try measuring the welfare of children in real terms. After all, you have to have some criteria for how much you give parents, and the only way to do that is by paying them to do the things which YOU THINK improves the welfare of children, or, in exactly the same vein, by paying for those things with the parents' money. It is in no way obvious that gov't has an accurate measuring stick for childrens' welfare, say nothing of the actual purchases which endorse it. Worse, politicians have no incentives to bother to FIND such a measuring stick, anyway.

Bringing in the state to provide financial incentives for parents to raise their children well is misguided at best and extortionary at worst.


-unless you love someone-
-nothing else makes any sense-

e.e. cummings