Capitalism and vouchers

School voucher advocates must argue the case for free markets — not just social justice — argue Herbert Walberg and Joseph Bast in the Chicago Sun-Times.

A public that does not understand what markets are is being asked to trust them to provide quality educations for their children. A conversation with an average person about how school vouchers would work in practice — as opposed to a conversation about whether school choice is a good idea in theory — reveals many disturbing myths and misunderstandings about capitalism.

Many people believe capitalism encourages greed and exacerbates inequality, tends toward monopoly and low-quality products, and allows corporations to manipulate consumers and waste money on advertising. Most people believe mass illiteracy was commonplace before government took over the funding and operation of schools.

Defending capitalism is hard work, they argue. But it’s necessary.

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  1. Peter Zawilski says:

    Capitalism & Freemarkets

    I am in favor of school choice with vouchers. However, the vouchers must be of sufficient value (~$10,000 in Bay Area) to provide a real choice. I find it inexcusable that in one part of town with $1M homes–one has a choice of private or public. If you can only afford a $500K home, the public schools are not up to snuff and you are compelled to send your children to a private school. However, the widespread dishonesty with the private sector makes it a challenge to sell the free market idea as it applies to public education.

    With what has gone on with scandals at Enron, Worldcom, NYSE, Mutual Funds, the case for “free market” capitalism is becoming more difficult to make.

    If our government were not in the pockets of anti-free market corporations, the scandals would not happen, if they did those REALLY responsible would be in prison–doing hard time.

    The argument is made that only a small percentage of corporations are corrupt. However, those honest corporations are not heard in the news decrying their dishonest counterparts. The average person may consider that since no corporation is denouncing or exposing wrong doing, they must be all doing it.

  2. It was, after all, the market mechanism that disposed of Enron and WorldCom – they no longer exist. Conceivably, the same could happen to the NYSE and many mutual funds.

    As far as the government being in the pockets of corporations, go tell that to Gray Davis.

  3. Dishonesty is not limited to capitalism. Consider the widespread corruption that existed in almost all Communists societies…and that exists in many “traditional” societies that are still basically feudal.

  4. Defending capitalism is surprisingly hard work. People have been saying the same dumbass things about capitalism for over a hundred years now. People have been believing the same dumbass things about capitalism for over a hundred years now, and voting for politicians presenting bogus solutions to non-existent problems.

    They believed the same dumbass things about capitalism while capitalism was busy producing automobiles, aeroplanes, electric lights, telephones, and too many other wonders to name, not to mention cheap versions of well-known items that were considered luxuries for centuries, and now they claim that the wonders we enjoy are the result of “reforms” imposed years or decades later.

    It’s enough to drive the defenders of capitalism to complete and utter despair, but that way lies the Dark Ages…

  5. jeff wright says:

    And clearly, there is no dishonesty or corruption in the public schools or in other public sector areas.

    I suppose those same idiots who badmouth capitalism think the good fairy makes the prices of consumer electronics and other stuff they’ll put under the Christmas tree DROP every year. The same good fairy who makes even poor people in the U.S. unbelievably wealthy in comparison to the hapless residents of all of those workers’ paradises in the rest of the world.

    To paraphrase Churchill: Capitalism is the worst of all systems, but it’s far better than any other yet invented.

  6. Mark Odell says:

    School voucher advocates must argue the case for free markets

    Unfortunately, doing so raises too many logical contradictions.

    Vouchers: Another Central Plan