Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Free Market?

California Democrat Nancy Pelosi is quoted as saying that to ensure that America remains competitive is to “take money out of the private sector so government can spend more tax dollars on hiring public school teachers (no mention of charter schools and vouchers); take money out of the private sector so that government can spend more tax dollars on federal R &D agencies (no mention of redoing corporate tax rates to the same end); take money out of the private sector so government can spend more tax dollars on “broadband access” (no mention that this will happen faster than Congress can pass a law) and take money out of the private sectors government can spend more money on developing alternate energy (no mention of relieving legal and regulatory impediments to the only currently viable source, nuclear power) At least she has a common theme.

I have a fifth suggestion. Take money out of the private sector so government can spend money on how to educate itself on the free market, since it is so seldom encountered inside the Beltway. Perhaps politicians might learn that this outside-the-Beltway oddity- the free market-flourishes when millions of actors are permitted to keep more of the capital they earn to allocate it as they see fit in their collective wisdom, however untethered that wisdom may be from the enlightened thoughts of Ms. Pelosi.”

If Ms. Pelosi answer is to simply spend more money, could she possibly explain why school systems with the highest per capita spending –Washington, DC and New York continue to produce some of the poorest results?”

Other comments to the WSJ include “We cannot and should not, compete on cost. We must compete via innovation and high value-added. On these metrics, the U.S has no peer. We will respond successfully yet.”

These comments are in response to what Ms. Pelosi had published under the title “R &D Democrats” on 2/13 in the WSJ.

1 comment:

Mahkno said...

As usual a politician whittles down issues to over simplistic terms and analysis. You respond in kind. These issues aren't so simple once you delve into them.

Take school funding. Many many schools are indeed underfunded but they are also ill managed, and reform is often impeded by irresponsible decisions by the teacher's union. Rarely do you see all these angles in a single position by either party. Charter schools provide for innovation but unions often block their formation. Vouchers undermine the very principle of a public education. These two are often singled out and separated from the broader picture.

You also point out that Washington DC and New York have the highest per capita spending. Often those figures fail to account for the extremely high cost of living in those areas. Once adjusted, those figures won't seem so favorable. They have to pay teachers more just so they can live there, but their quality of life may indeed be much lower than in less 'affluent' areas.

Federal R&D... again what R&D is she or anyone talking about? The federal government used to spend a lot on R&D, for some industries, with great success. For some industries it would seem that federal research would be better than private. Clearly other industries would be hampered. But you can't take a broad brush to the issue.

Deploying broadband? You only need to look around the developed world and see that our private sector is failing to deliver. I am not certain what the solution is but the 'free market' doesn't always work.

Alternative energy? We don't need to spend enormous sums on research, except maybe on fusion. Let those oil prices rise. Already, as the price has risen, private research dollars in alternative sources has dramatically increased. A 50 cent tax on gasoline, to support public transportation, might actually spur even more research.