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Administrative Note:

Week's Agenda: Economy

Despite pressing deadlines, I can't keep off totally.

1. From a strictly libertarian point of view, govt should do nothing
more and nothing less for education than what it does for pencils.  If
people get the govt they deserve, then in the same sense, they get the
education they deserve. Individuals should be responsible for education
as they are for bathing.  Both have external effects.

2. However, many liberals/libertarians like Smith, Friedman, and Hayek
have made an exception for education.  The consensus seems to be that
govt may help finance education but it shall not be in the business of
running schools and colleges (not in the "production" of education but
in the "payment" for education).  They however have not been able to
provide any permanent solution to the inevitable expansion of govt
interventions under the guise of specifying conditions for financial
support.  They have tried to suggest financing mechanisms that are
uniform across the population and leave little room for govt discretion.

3.  Friedman's voucher program:  Govt gives a voucher of specified
amount of money to each child which can can be cashed in by schools
providing education.  Question:  Why should govt/public pay for rich
children's education?

4.  Means-tested vouchers:  Give vouchers to the children of parents
whose income is below the specified amount.

Both types of vouchers still leave a lot of power in the hands of the
govt in specifying what kind of schools can cash vouchers (non-English
medium, non-religious, etc etc).  What now?

5.  Latest move is to simply let parents deduct the expenses of
education from their income tax.  The percentage of deducation can be
graduated by income group--the richer the parents the less they can
deduct.  The govt doesn't really give out money; it simply takes in
less.  For those who don't earn enough to pay taxes, they get the
difference back--Friedman's negative income tax.

But the govt can still specify tuition to what schools can be deducted.
Back to square one!

We agree that govt shouldn't be in the business of "producing"
education.  But even if we were to restrict it to the "financing" of
education, we still don't have a good, full-proof, workable scheme for
govt financing of education.

But that will be part of the next round of discussions...on actual
policies, as opposed to the current one on general principles.  Until
then ... good thinking!

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