Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Are You Waiting for Superman?

Let's pretend there is a type of product that almost everyone wants. It's in very high demand. Multiple businesses compete in order to provide this product to all the people who want it. Businesses who can deliver a quality product are rewarded with more customers and they grow. Businesses who deliver a poor quality product cannot attract customers and they fail. The product itself, through this competitive system, gets better and better with each iteration. But then the state comes along. The state decides to adopt one particular version of the product and mandate that only that version is legitimate and all other versions have to be abandoned. Then the state decides to provide this product itself and make it illegal or almost impossible for most people to obtain the product any other way. The state's version of the product has many flaws but the state continually fails to actually improve it. And now most everyone is stuck with a poor quality product and they have no other options.

What would you think about that situation? Would it make you concerned? Would it make you angry? Would you stand for a state monopoly on a product that is so important that almost everyone wants it? Would you protest and demand that the state get out of that particular market?

This entire scenario has already happened, and the product, in this case, is education. 

For most of human history, education was provided by the free market. Literacy rates in the West had been improving for hundreds of years before the 20th century. However, starting in the 1800's, the state slowly crept in and monopolized education. Is there any wonder why public schools are completely failing children in America? We don't ask the state to provide our food, clothing, or housing because we know they would do a terrible job, costs would be high, and shortages would be rampant. And yet, most Americans still ask the state to provide something as important as education. We are constantly taught (in public schools, no less) that monopolies are evil and we are trained to fear them. And still, Americans demand near-total monopolization of schools. People today would (hopefully) be outraged to see the state completely take over an industry that had been going so well for so long, like computers or cell phones, but most Americans cannot even fathom a private system of education. 

Public education is a debt-driven, monopolistic, and centralized nightmare of bureaucratic mandates. If you at all feel that education needs more innovation, you just might be more of an anarchist than you thought.

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