Monday, June 13, 2011
An Educational Paradox: Collectivist Visions Delivered Through Collectivist Models
Enter Milton Friedman
Keeping K-12 and public universities in mind, consider this statement by Milton Friedman when considering the current taxpayer supported systems regarding the investment in education: "In a private market economy, the individual would get his return as his personal income, yet if the investment were subsidized, he would have borne none of the costs". (1)
An argument point to keep in mind
One might want to keep the following argument points in mind put forth by collectivists regarding the presumed need to funnel more and more and more tax dollars to public education: "children are our future", "we will have an educated and more productive society", “democracy is better served by the better educated”, etc..
Back to Friedman
One of the implicit and explicit assumptions in Friedman's 1955 essay The Role of Government in Education is that individual X increases his/her potential to earn a higher income through education and many times the potential actually translates into increased earnings. However, Friedman is pointing out the potential and actual earnings increase was largely subsidized by the exogenous taxpayer. When considering the now higher earnings of individual X, one must deliberate the fact that X did not pay for the total costs associated with the increased earnings.
Back to the more productive society
The implicit assumption in slogans such as "children are our future", "we will have an educated and more productive society", “democracy is better served by the better educated”, is that a social benefit of some undefined sort accumulates. However, we also know that increased earnings accumulate. In other words, are collectivists unknowingly implying that Adam Smith’s invisible hand is at work [increased earning and increased social benefit]?
The exogenous taxpayer and subsidized increased earnings
If taxpayers A-Z are forced into a system of subsidizing the potential and many times actual increased earnings of public school and public university students, shouldn’t taxpayers A-Z demand an efficient trade-off for the forced subsidization. Stated alternatively, taxpayers A-Z who are compelled to subsidize, should not taxpayers A-Z demand that the forced subsidization of increased earning be done in a manner that produces the most efficient, least expensive, and best average output?
Is not the subsidization of potential and actual increased earnings yet another argument for the voucher system? If taxpayers A-Z are compelled to subsidize potential and actual increased earnings then why is the subsidization not delivered through the most efficient, least expensive, and best average output system? Why is the subsidization conveyed through a collectivist model delivered through monopoly [K-12] and a top heavy administration system based on tenure [public universities]. That is, the subsidization is being delivered through a late stage collectivist model suffering from rampant shirk, enrichment of the power purveyors [administrative bureaucracy], and suffering from abysmal and declining output.
The current delivery system is counter collectivist. Oh yes! If the collectivist vision unknowingly implies that Adam Smith’s invisible hand is at work [increased earning and increased social benefit], then any accrued social benefit is left un-maximized. Hence the collectivist vision delivered through collectivist models becomes a paradox.
(1) The Role of Government in Education, Milton Friedman, 1955, http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1173402/posts