Saturday, January 26, 2008

Response to Sol Stern, et al

Response to a listserve that posted Sol Stern's latest education article in City Journal from The Manhattan Institute:

It's amazing how many people confound laissez-faire with I-don't-care.

Laissez faire refers to systems where government and its minions -- the self-described experts -- stay out of the way. It doesn't mean that the simpletons -- those like me -- will lay down in the fields and die.

In a free market, I-don't-care is actually a pretty safe attitude for most things. It relates to the division of labor ...

I don't care about circuits, data storage, etc., yet someone does. And they are the ones who push improvements of handheld media devices, etc. You don't have to be an expert in everything, or anything for that matter, for the free market to work. Someone else always picks up the slack.

I don't care a bit about motor oil, yet many, many people do. And, I benefit due to motor oils that improve year after year..

In addition, I don't have to concern myself with writing textbooks, supplements, etc., since hundreds of entrepreneurs are willing to do that for me.

However, I do care enough about my children to attempt to make the right decisions for them. Nevertheless, I can guarantee that some of those decisions stand opposite the so-called experts, but what are they really experts of?

Can they burn circuits, design new storage devices, improve motor oil, or, get this, write textbooks that I would even consider purchasing? Hmmm. Wouldn't that be the true test? Yet, the failure of their books to sell would be perceived as additional proof that the simpletons are idiots.

The experts need government. They need some entity -- the social apparatus of coercion and compulsion -- to force those like me to purchase their wares.

The experts -- Hoxby, Ravitch, Stern, Peterson, et al. -- get so upset when others do not pick the programs these experts deem to be best. So, these experts quickly jump to the conclusion that parents are idiots. I find that to be very insulting.

According to the experts, the parent who simply wants his child out of a dangerous school, regardless of the educational outcomes, is making an uninformed, irrational decision. Huh.

By the way, under the government solution, my local district is showing English Lit students Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth under the guise of persuasive writing -- I guess it is better than the R-rated movies they have been showing; movies with rape scenes, nudity, etc. Amazing.

Still, some folks believe this blob will change under pressure. I suspect that these folks have no experience in a government work-setting. The blob never changes, regardless of which political persuasion is sitting in the head office. On the other hand, the manager at McDonalds is only too glad to help.

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