Paternalism, progressives and public policy

Paternalism is the hallmark of Progressive reform movements — including school reform — writes Mike Petrilli on Education Gadfly. “Whether it’s Temperance and Prohibition or the effort to shutter popular but ineffective public schools . . . members of an ‘enlightened elite’ believe that they must act to create and enforce rules that will be good for the huddled masses.”

Petty Little Dictator Disorder
Petty Little Dictator Disorder and paternalism
From Jay Greene’s Blog

Petrilli often favors paternalistic policies, risking what Jay Greene calls  Petty Little Dictator Disorder.

For example, he thinks the Bloomberg-Giuliani approach to crime fighting, which includes the aggressive use of stop, question and frisk, has helped make New York the safest city in America. Low-income, minority New Yorkers benefit the most, because they’re far more likely to be crime victims.

But they’re also the most likely to be stopped, questioned and frisked, paying what Ta-Nehisi Coates calls a “racist public-safety tax.” Perhaps minority communities should get to decide whether paying this tax is worth the benefit, Petrilli suggests.

Education reformers want to close underperforming schools, even if they are popular with parents.”There’s a case to be made” that people in the community should “decide whether the tradeoffs are worth it,” he writes. But “I still don’t quite buy it.”

. . . because education is not just a “private good”—all of our welfare depends on an educated populace—isn’t it appropriate for the public to demand that schools meet certain standards, especially when taxpayer dollars are involved? Isn’t leaving it to the affected “community” just a recipe for inaction and further academic decline?

So he’s a Progressive paternalist — with qualms about dismissing the “will of the people.”

Step away from the simile, responds Sara Mead.

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  1. Closing an “underperforming school” isn’t necessarily a community decision, as the taxpayers should be able to have a say. After all, it’s their money.

  2. As far as a “racist public-safety tax” is concerned, it will disappear when the black community decides to demand appropriate behavior from its young males and they become no more likely to commit crimes than other males. As long as the current, hugely disproportionate level of violence exists among young black males dressing and acting like thugs, everyone with common sense will be wary of said males. That said, I would also avoid white skinheads and Asian gangbangers. As Darren said about the schools, there’s also increased taxpayer cost to policing high-crime areas.

  3. BadaBing says:

    Nothing will fix black crime until fathers become a standard feature in the black home.

  4. momof4 – Your feeble attempt to create an equivalence between the violent behavior of blacks, whites and Asians is based on totally ignoring reality. Black levels of violence are far greater than white or Asian levels.

    • Richard Aubrey says:

      I don’t see an attempt to pretend an equivalence. If there are fewer Asian gang-bangers, it still pays to pay attention when you find some, however rare that is. Seems that was what she was saying.

      • Precisely. Richard. Although young thugs are disproportionately black, they are not exclusively so. It’s prudent to avoid all of them, even if that means avoiding/profiling more blacks. If it is dressed like a thug, acts like a thug and displays the attitude of a thug, prudent people will assume it is a thug and take appropriate avoidance measures. If blacks object to that, they should change their behavior.

        BTW, the middle-class black families we’ve known are particularly bitter about the behavior, because their kids have been targeted as oreos and sellouts if they dress and behave appropriately. Keeping their sons on the straight and narrow is a constant fight and lots are really angry about it.

        • Richard Aubrey says:

          I have some black friends who are Pentacostals. They sent their kids to a Catholic school which–I don’t know much about Pentacostals–is probably a doctrinal stretch. The reason was to avoid the public housing kids in the local HS.
          In the school district where we used to live and my wife taught, there were middle-class blacks whose life at school was pretty normal until we got public housing.
          First year, sixteen fights by Christmas. All public housing kids. Only bus run that has a cop on it because of the fighting.
          So it’s now tougher on both the middle-class blacks and the whites.
          Not sure who wins, but the folks who make these decisions have, historically, taken great care their kids are not involved in any way whatsoever.

          • Yes, my kids were in school when that happened in our area. l just read recently that the current administration wants to use HUD/Section 8 etc to force large-scale socioeconomic integration – because that will solve all of those pesky achievement gaps etc. Obviously, they haven’t heard about a few rotten apples spoiling the whole barrel. The same goal is also being pushed by the regionalization agenda; whereby suburbs are forced to subsidize the cities (even more than currently) – even by redoing school boundaries etc.

          • Richard Aubrey says:

            As with Boston, the folks making the rules will have their kids in expensive private schools.
            I think there’s a Gresham’s Law of behavior.