Free Capitalist Network - Community Archive
Mises Community Archive
An online community for fans of Austrian economics and libertarianism, featuring forums, user blogs, and more.

The role of the free market in the fall of the state

rated by 0 users
This post has 6 Replies | 2 Followers

Top 10 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,987
Points 89,745
Wheylous Posted: Fri, Apr 13 2012 8:52 PM

I've been toying with the idea lately that the fall of the state will come about due to market superiority, perhaps not due to some wondrous realization on the part of a large part of the populace. While libertarianism might be gaining some traction (momentum that I think we need to desperately keep up and decentralize once RP gets off the political stage), many people constantly keep falling for the same old ploys of mercantilism.

Why do I arrive at this conclusion? I look, for example, to education. The side-by-side charts for education spending and achievement tell a grim story for public schooling:

 

Perhaps I do not know enough and these statistics are too high-level, but it appears to me that the government has produced no improvement in education for all the extra money it has received.

Education spending has been well above inflation, over the period gas prices have fluctuated significantly (and hence have no appreciable impact), and I doubt that the state made exams harder and harder just to make itself look bad all these years. That means that there are no external factors that could explain why the increase in funding has not been matched by an increase in scores (combine this with a gigantic increase in the communications technology over the last 40 years and we should be seeing huge gains in education).

 

Meanwhile, I see numerous private education startups. Both ones that serve to provide all-around education (Khan academy) and specialized ones (like language-learning websites, with which I have been quite impressed lately). Heck, even Wikipedia is probably a good enough source of information these days.

Furthermore, if we decrease the duration of the artificial monopoly of textbooks we could have significantly cheaper textbooks. Heck, I could even see private startups making cheaper textbooks in the future (maybe not a bad idea for anyone out there).

I recently realized that the specific program in which I am in my school is 60% privately funded - and I pay NOTHING AT ALL to go to it! My school district has a budget of $1.3 billion and they produce essentially nothing to show for it (essentially, my school program is the only one that comes up with anything worthwhile; arguably the debate team of one other school is also good, but again, that is hardly thanks to the public education system).

 

I do not see the public realizing anytime soon that the government is terrible at teaching children. I do see, however, people increasingly using non-public sources of education and slowly making public schools more and more irrelevant.

Of course, we will still be up against glorious crusaders for the lower class who know nothing of comparative advantage and division of labor but who think everyone should know European History and Calculus and Physics. However, those can hopefully be marginalized.

 

I could also see a similar process happen in the police force, with increasing use of private security. But maybe there are unseen forces that would prevent market success in some fields. Your thoughts?

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 50 Contributor
Posts 2,679
Points 45,110
gotlucky replied on Fri, Apr 13 2012 10:59 PM

In this post here, Michael J Green linked to a CATO paper called Private Education is Good for the Poor: A Study of Private Schools Serving the Poor in Low-Income Countries.  It's not about America, but I remember that it had some very interesting information in it.  Here is a link to a CATO Policy Report that has another article about private education in poor countries (this one is broken up, which is annoying).

I do not see the public realizing anytime soon that the government is terrible at teaching children. I do see, however, people increasingly using non-public sources of education and slowly making public schools more and more irrelevant.

Actually, I think it's very possible that people will realize the government is terrible at teaching children.  There was an article I read (which I cannot find, so if anybody might have read it I would love if you could post a link - I think I read it through these forums), which was about public schools in West Africa - I think Ghana specifically - putting private schools out of business.  After some time though, the poor families realized that the public schools were junk and started going back to the private schools, even though they would have to pay.

If the poorest families in Africa can decide it's worth it to pay for private schooling despite free public schooling, then I think it is entirely possible for Americans to realize this too.  It just has to be worth it to American families.  For something similar in America, there will probably have to be more decline in the American public school system, but considering the downward trend, I have no doubt this will happen.

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 10 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,987
Points 89,745
Wheylous replied on Fri, Apr 13 2012 11:26 PM

I guess you mean this article:

http://www.thefreemanonline.org/features/backing-the-wrong-horse-how-private-schools-are-good-for-the-poor/

I'd love to believe what you say, but we are fond of believing that "our government can do it"

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 50 Contributor
Posts 2,679
Points 45,110
gotlucky replied on Fri, Apr 13 2012 11:30 PM

YES! That's the one!  Where did you find it?

Eh, people don't have that much faith, they just lack imagination.  It just needs to get bad.  Consider the post office.  Most people do not rely on the USPS to send packages.  They use private carriers for that.  If the USPS got even worse, I bet people would send regular mail that way too.  The problem is that it is subsidized so much that it would have to be truly abysmal for people to switch (it might also be illegal too, but even so, if enough people did it, the government would be powerless to stop it).

I think the same thing would happen with education.  It's just that public schooling would have to be even worse than it currently is.  Yikes!

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 10 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,987
Points 89,745
Wheylous replied on Sun, Apr 15 2012 6:43 PM

YES! That's the one!  Where did you find it?

I've been citing it for a while.

 

Any other thoughts, comrades?

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 10 Contributor
Male
Posts 6,885
Points 121,845
Clayton replied on Sun, Apr 15 2012 7:09 PM

*shrug -

I see the market as a neutral element, it is as much an enabler of the political machine as it is anything else. The government "creates" markets to enforce its will - look at the tax preparation industry or the corporate law industry (or even the defense industry), for example. So, the market is no magic cure. And if the utilitarian benefits were being felt by decision-makers, we would have long ago thrown off the State that is eating up the majority of our productive energies so it can bomb poor, brown skinned people and make us follow rules we hate here at home.

I strongly agree with Rothbard's view that the moral problem is the primary problem. As long as government is associated with "goodness" "decency" "uprightness" "social order" and generally held to be sacrosanct by the vast majority of the public, there is no hope of escape. People who can view their own slavemaster as a deliverer, beneficiary, life-giver and liberator are so hopelessly deluded about the basic facts of reality that nothing short of their passing away and being replaced by less deluded people can alter the state of affairs.

Sorry to be so dire about it - this forum is a bit of a "bubble" that can get highly insulated from the real world out there. People generally really believe in government with the same kind of religious fervor that a devout Catholic believes in Mary, Jesus and the Pope. The idea that money being wasted out of the public treasury is going to change these people's minds is simply unrealistic. The problem is that these people's opinions matter in the first place. Religious devotion should never have been a basis to seize property from the productive and the moment you admit one penny to be seized on this basis, the entire social order is turned on its head. Life is no longer about working hard to provide for yourself and your family, it's about proving your worthiness.

Clayton -

http://voluntaryistreader.wordpress.com
  • | Post Points: 20
Top 50 Contributor
Posts 2,360
Points 43,785
z1235 replied on Sun, Apr 15 2012 7:39 PM

Clayton, "Beyond Democracy" ($0.99 on Kindle) covers the religious aspect of democracy you're talking about. I know I'm plugging it for maybe the third time here (no affiliation, just a fan) but I'm only doing it because I've found it to be very effective even with people who've never heard of austrian economics and/or libertarianism. Very approachable, light, short, yet delivering a huge punch. 

 

  • | Post Points: 5
Page 1 of 1 (7 items) | RSS