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On Vouchers

Education is a valuable tool required for survival of which the formal education forms a very small part. There isn’t anything special about education which makes it a birth right. Yet, I have found that a lot many libertarians make exceptions for education. Inspired by economists like Milton Friedman, they support programs such as “School Choice”. It makes one wonder whether they have any real understanding of the market economy. If they really believed in the superiority of the market in providing for the society, they wouldn’t have supported School Vouchers. They would have let the market take care of the situation.

There are several problems with the voucher system. The most important one is that School Vouchers don’t eliminate taxation. Public funded education is the exemplification of the Marxian idea “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need”. Every one, including homeschooling parents, and childless ones are forced to pay for the education of the children who they may or may not care for. Tax payers pay according to their ability. Parents who recklessly produce children get according to their need. Nothing can be more monstrous than that. Taxation diverts production to fields which may not satisfy the needs which are more urgent for the people.

What most of the supporters of the voucher system pretend not to understand is that if Government is to fund the education of children in private schools through taxation, it is obvious that Government would have a say in how these funds are being utilized. One who pays the piper calls the tune. It would eventually lead to a total control of the education system by the Government. It goes without saying that under this system most of what children would be taught under this system in the name of Social sciences would be mostly Government propaganda. There wouldn’t be autonomy even in the case of private institutions. There would be a call for more accountability and regulation which would lead to stagnation and less innovation in the field of education.

On an entirely free market, schools would have to compete with each other in providing better education at a lower price. The voucher system clearly tampers with it. It reduces all incentives for cutting costs as the fee is not given out of the parent’s pocket, but from the Government. The result would be inefficiency and a high cost for maintaining the system. It in turn leads to less children receiving quality education.

Some schools would be out of business due to the voucher system. Schools which don’t accept the vouchers would find less people to pay for the education which it provides. Voucher system, needless to mention, breeds parasitism and dependency.
What most libertarians forget is that the voucher system is against the founding principle of libertarianism: The Non Aggression principle. No one has the right to take from other in the name of noble motives. To begin with, it is not a noble motive to take from the producer to give to the parasite. Coercion is hardly a libertarian principle.

It is interesting that the supporters of this program call it “School Choice”. What does that mean? Should the tax payer be molested in order to provide parents with enough choice? There are always enough options to choose from under a free market. The voucher program would only reduce this choices by leading to Government dictated syllabus and curriculum. It is utterly naïve to think that Government would fund the education without having a say in it. Notice the secret admission of the proponents of this policy that the government is a failure in providing its citizens with quality education.

Why are these libertarians calling for free food, housing or health care when it is well evident that these are more important and urgent needs than education? If they have real faith in the superiority of the market, why don’t they call for an all-out privatization? The answers are not obvious.

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