Friday, March 12, 2004


Taking exception to people's tastes can be an unrewarding and time consuming project. Most people's tastes for music, movies, books and political platforms do not match mine so I take satisfaction from the fact that we live in a world where people's integrity is respected by the fact that they have choices available to them. Of course, there are those who find fault with "too many choices" and there is even a new book devoted to this theme (I choose not to link to it).

Turning to politics, where to start? The Washington Post (March 8) reports that one of the things that may assure passage of the transportation appropriations bill is the inclusion of large amounts of "popular transit spending", especially light-rail. A mountain of evidence demonstrating the incredible waste resulting from these projects may as well be invisible.

But, there is worse. Educational quality is surely near the top of this country's problems. The popular position among almost all candidates and parties is that more money is needed. (Anti-war speakers like to take the high ground and suggest that war spending hurts the schools). Here too, the evidence points convincingly the other way. Prof. Eric Hanushek's research is especially compelling. More money spent per student has had no detectable impact. It's not the money.

I do believe that good ideas drive out the bad ones but it is a very slow process.