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Strange question on education in free-markets

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Lincoln Posted: Sat, Apr 9 2011 7:07 PM

This is something I saw on an amazon review of Milton Friedman on education in laissez-faire:

There are a couple of areas where he pushes too far, into regions where it is not at all clear if free market capitalism will work as well as the book promises. Education doesn't simply fit into the free market mold because it's not clear who is buying the education. Is it the parent or the student? Is it the student before education or the student after education? It's also very different from buying shoes, because most people only buy one education; one doesn't get a chance to learn from failed purchases. So, it doesn't quite fit Adam Smith's model of two people, each rationally deciding if the transaction will be beneficial to him/her self.  
 
I would respond by saying that it really doesn’t matter. Why should education be any different to a parent buying a child clothes or chocolate bars or whatever? Parents – instead of government – should be deciding what is best for the child, until he can make informed decisions. But for the fact that education matters later in life, I don’t see how that impedes on the concept of the free-market. Moreover, education would be much better in the free-market due to individualist “philosophy” (and loads of other reasons) and, thus, in the free-market the student will always be much better off.
 
So, I don’t really understand what this guy is moaning about. But people (including a libertarian friend of mine) put education on a pedestal that it is too important and too good for the free-market?!
 
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"Education doesn't simply fit into the free market mold because it's not clear who is buying the education. Is it the parent or the student? Is it the student before education or the student after education? "

It is clear - it depends on the situation.  People do not buy education as a whole, they buy particular units of education.  A parent may pay for their child's education so that the child can read and write and get a job requiring those skills.  A person may pay for their own education so that they can read and write and get a job requiring those skills.  Either way it does imply the model of two people, each ratioanlly deciding if the transaction will be beneficial to him/herself - and/or to those for whom they take care.

It's also very different from buying shoes, because most people only buy one education; one doesn't get a chance to learn from failed purchases.

Again this assumes that people choose education as a whole.  It is ridiculous, of course one gets the chance to learn from failed purchases - uni students do it all the time, transferring/dropping courses a semester in.  Even parents of young school children do this, taking their children from one school and putting them in another.

So, it doesn't quite fit Adam Smith's model of two people, each rationally deciding if the transaction will be beneficial to him/her self. 

It fits this 'model' perfectly.  This person's argument is simply a poor attempt to create a special area for the state, but it never asks what must be foregone in order to have this education, and whether it is worth foregoing these things for education.  Scarcity does not exist, of course.

 

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Not a single sentence even makes any sense.

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Phaedros:

Not a single sentence even makes any sense.

Agreed. There is so such thing as 'one education'. That reviewer doesn't know what the Hell s/he is talking about. I find the very idea that most people have any business going to school for years on end ridiculous.
 
This baseless assumption that everyone needs some sort of centrally organized formal 'education' is utter BS. You can thank the Enlightenment for another myth. For that matter, attending school is not an 'education'; it is a resource with which to educate yourself. People don't know what the Hell they are even talking about when they start saying 'education' as though it were a discrete and homogenous entity. Most of what's called 'education' is propaganda and mythology.
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Neodoxy replied on Sat, Apr 9 2011 10:03 PM

1. The parents are usually going to be buying the education, so what? Parents usually buy bouncy castles too, and when I was a kid I could tell you that those were usually f**ing awesome! Parents generally care about their children and want them to have a good and successful future, just like parents who try to increase the quality of their children's life by sending them to private school over public school

2. It's the student during education, the student is the one being educated.

3. People can usually tell if they're getting a subpar education and comparisons can be made between scores and success rates out of schools. I'm pretty sure we know which is better, Harvard or a community college. People transfer from school to school all the time

4. Even if an education is less suited to the working of free market than shoes are, why would a monopoly be better than this?

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Every time somebody tries to tell me education is too important to be left in the hands of the market, I respond that education too important to be left in the hands of a government buerocracy(and a heavily unionized one at that).

OBJECTION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If you preface everything you say with the phrase 'studies have shown...' people will believe anything you say no matter how ridiculous. Studies have shown this works 87.64% of the time.
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MaikU replied on Sun, Apr 10 2011 8:15 PM

SirThinkALot:

Every time somebody tries to tell me education is too important to be left in the hands of the market, I respond that education too important to be left in the hands of a government buerocracy(and a heavily unionized one at that).

 

 

everytime somebody says that they are revealing themselves as control freaks or just authoritarian persons.

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(english is not my native language, sorry for grammar.)

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Brutus replied on Sun, Apr 10 2011 8:37 PM

I always take things back to fundamentals. Even with technology, there was a fundamental purpose for its design. Education too. The purpose? Gauging that humanity slowly grew from local communities with jobs that needed to be done, the father needed to teach the son to grow potatoes, and so the process of education occurred.

The way I view education in this context is the same way I view all government interference. In the simplest setting, that of the early humanistic community, would you want the guy who has plowed the field for 50 years to teach you to plow, or would you want some short haired dyke with a business card that says, "Sam Johnston, M.S. in Field Plowing 2010"? The short haired dyke is like every teacher that gets a degree and runs into the world of education.

Same with home protection. If Billy owns 10 guns and knows how to use them all, and someone robs his house in the middle of the night to do God knows what, why should he rely on Sgt. Bighead to come save him? What, the expertise of using the weapons in self-defense that Billy has grown to know for the past few years is all of the sudden obsolete when he's getting robbed and Sgt. Bighead swoops in to save the day?

If there's one consistent theme in the direction of the state, it's that the state--whenever it is given the opportunity--will try to make the independent thinker obsolete. It will make him feel helpless and pose a mafia-esque scenario by which the individual will need to take the offer "or else." The state constantly makes offers we can't refuse...because if we do, well, you know what happens... http://thebsreport.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/tase.jpg 

It is the same with education. Why would I want to send my child to a public school that is funded by way of theft (commonly referred to as taxation) resulting from the paradox that is called property tax in order to learn how to think for himself from a statist that has been taught to think with the group? It's self defeating!

The way I see it, the wheel wasn't invented by some boy scout sitting in homeroom.

"Is life so dear or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?" -Patrick Henry

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Liam Anthony:

So, I don’t really understand what this guy is moaning about. But people (including a libertarian friend of mine) put education on a pedestal that it is too important and too good for the free-market?!

"Education" is silly, and so are college degrees. If we let people freely pursue their self interest they will learn what they need to in order to be successful anyways. I "educated" myself better than any school did becuse I felt it was necessary to succeed and I wanted to suceed so I could be my own boss, party and sleep with random women =)

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xahrx replied on Tue, Apr 12 2011 10:57 AM

A big problem in these debates is when people talk about 'education' they generally means k-12 and what is now considered secondary and/or higher ed, universities.  You have to break them out of that paradigm some how before they can see that 'education' can and should mean a whole load of potential differentiated products.  And a good way to position it is using the current situation for inner city blacks.  How much better off would they be, and how much potential intellectual capital has been flushed down the crapper, because they were forced into a universal program that I'm guessing few of them cared for and even found hostile.  How much better off would they or any poor have been if, instead of being pushed into such a failed system, they could have taken a concentrated course in this or that trade?  Say welding.  I think their path would have more closely mimmicked that of other immigrants in that one generation would be focussed on this or that trade, the next would advance a bit, and so on and so forth until viola, poverty magically disappears because of all the capital they built and nurtured over the years in their families and communities.

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chunter replied on Tue, Apr 12 2011 11:16 AM

the guy is lost.  he is stuck inside the box.

people, right now, buy education all the time in the free market.  swimming lessons.  martial arts lessons.  tutorials.  business training.

its WAY MORE EFFICIENT than the government model.  the free market gives you learning, how you want it, when you want it, where you want it, at your convienence.  It takes WAY LESS TIME.  And uses WAY LESS RESOURCES.

end of story.  we must wait for the people stuck in the box to wake up.

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Is it sad that I'v learned more elementary physics and engineering from watching Mythbusters than in all my years of schooling?(granted I didnt study physics or engineering, but still....)

OBJECTION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If you preface everything you say with the phrase 'studies have shown...' people will believe anything you say no matter how ridiculous. Studies have shown this works 87.64% of the time.
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Eric replied on Tue, Apr 12 2011 12:07 PM

Is it sad that I'v learned more elementary physics and engineering from watching Mythbusters than in all my years of schooling?(granted I didnt study physics or engineering, but still....)

Well if you took no physics classes, then no.

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Clayton replied on Tue, Apr 12 2011 12:50 PM

The same reasoning can easily be applied to life itself. It's not clear whose choice it is to be alive - the parent or the child - since the parent initiated but the child later seems to perpetuate it. You only get one life and you don't know until it's over how to really live. So, we cannot leave the living of life in the hands of the individual, government must tell everyone how to live their life from birth until death.

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I had to take an elementry physics class in HS.  I never studied it in college though...

OBJECTION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If you preface everything you say with the phrase 'studies have shown...' people will believe anything you say no matter how ridiculous. Studies have shown this works 87.64% of the time.
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Autolykos replied on Wed, Apr 13 2011 10:59 AM

Clayton:
The same reasoning can easily be applied to life itself. It's not clear whose choice it is to be alive - the parent or the child - since the parent initiated but the child later seems to perpetuate it. You only get one life and you don't know until it's over how to really live. So, we cannot leave the living of life in the hands of the individual, government must tell everyone how to live their life from birth until death.

The reasoning is fallacious. In order for government to tell everyone how to live their life from birth until death, some individuals - those in the government - must do the telling instead of being told. This would mean leaving the living of some individuals' lives in their own hands. A performative contradiction results.

(I'm sure you're already aware of this, but indulge me. :P)

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Autolykos:

The reasoning is fallacious. In order for government to tell everyone how to live their life from birth until death, some individuals - those in the government - must do the telling instead of being told. This would mean leaving the living of some individuals' lives in their own hands. A performative contradiction results.

In the absolute sense yes. However, we all know the government recognizes itself above the law and doesn't follow it's own rules. Hence the government tells everyone else how to live but it believes itself to be in some alternate dimension. I blame the government for interdimensional instability.

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Clayton replied on Wed, Apr 13 2011 11:49 AM

@Auto: Yep, it always comes back to the ol' double-standard. This is why I believe that the social problem that must be addressed to rip statism up by the roots is the moral problem. Government is only possible because people tolerate double-standards when wrapped in sufficiently floral language. Eliminate that tolerance and you have eliminated the State.

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Autolykos replied on Wed, Apr 13 2011 12:13 PM

freeradicals:
In the absolute sense yes. However, we all know the government recognizes itself [as] above the law and doesn't follow it's own rules. Hence the government tells everyone else how to live but it believes itself to be in some alternate dimension. I blame the government for interdimensional instability.

Haha! I know what you mean. :)

Right, I was talking about the absolute (i.e. logical) sense. Nothing prevents people from believing things that are logically contradictory.

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Autolykos replied on Wed, Apr 13 2011 12:16 PM

Clayton:
@Auto: Yep, it always comes back to the ol' double-standard. This is why I believe that the social problem that must be addressed to rip statism up by the roots is the moral problem. Government is only possible because people tolerate double-standards when wrapped in sufficiently floral language. Eliminate that tolerance and you have eliminated the State.

Exactly. I completely agree - it all comes back to the Golden Rule, basically. The only thing I'd like to add is that many (if not most) people typically don't see the double standards as such. This issue is exacerbated in the presence of systematic undermining of people's critical-thinking skills - otherwise known as "public schooling".

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Autolykos replied on Wed, Apr 13 2011 12:21 PM

As a follow-up, one of the things that gives me hope is people's desire (if not demand) to hold those in power accountable. With this in mind, one area that I think we should focus on is showing how the voting booth does not provide such accountability. In comparison, free exchange (where allowed to happen) does provide it.

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Autolykos:

As a follow-up, one of the things that gives me hope is people's desire (if not demand) to hold those in power accountable. With this in mind, one area that I think we should focus on is showing how the voting booth does not provide such accountability. In comparison, free exchange (where allowed to happen) does provide it.

Agreed, we should also emphasize that free enterprise is not America's system so people stop referring to it as such and that real free enterprise is tyranny of the consumer, not some kind of corporate elite.

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Autolykos replied on Wed, Apr 13 2011 4:59 PM

freeradicals:
Agreed, we should also emphasize that free enterprise is not America's system so people stop referring to it as such and that real free enterprise is tyranny of the consumer, not some kind of corporate elite.

Indeed, free enterprise is common to all of humanity. It just happened to flourish in America for a while.

I'd advise against describing free enterprise as any form of tyranny - of the consumer or otherwise. Freedom and tyranny are opposites IMO.

Finally, a little joke: Why isn't Latin taught in public schools anymore? Because then students would find out that "aggression" and "grade" are related.

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Autolykos:

I'd advise against describing free enterprise as any form of tyranny - of the consumer or otherwise. Freedom and tyranny are opposites IMO.

I meant it facetiously, but I agree it should be worded as something more along the lines of "peaceful" or "voluntary".

Autolykos:

Finally, a little joke: Why isn't Latin taught in public schools anymore? Because then students would find out that "aggression" and "grade" are related.

I wish I knew more Latin to get the joke :(

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Autolykos replied on Wed, Apr 13 2011 5:31 PM

Sorry - "aggression" comes from Latin aggressum, past participle of aggredior, which is from ad-gradior, the second part of which is from gradus "step", which is also the origin of the word "grade". :)

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Autolykos:

Sorry - "aggression" comes from Latin aggressum, past participle of aggredior, which is from ad-gradior, the second part of which is from gradus "step", which is also the origin of the word "grade". :)

Hah, wow you know your Latin!

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