Monday, December 20, 2004


We tend to be well served in those aspects of our lives where markets are allowed to function and we tend to be poorly served where supply is via the state, instead. Many view this statement as "ideological" but it is supported by a moutain of evidence.

An important addition to the body of evidence is a recently released study by Bahaa Seireg and Lisa Snell on "State and Local Obtsacles to Opening a New Private School". It is not simply that government-run schools are, on the whole, a disaster but governments also make it extremely difficult to open private schools.

The appeal of a school voucher scheme is that it would introduce consumer sovereignty to the supply side. Yet, vouchers or not, the whole policy environment is stacked against education. Looking at the California situation, Seirig and Snell identify "four goliaths" that stand in the way: the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), zoning laws, parking requirements and building codes are idententified as major obstacles.

Each of these are, of course, lauded by the high-minded (along with the ignorant and the corrupt) for their beneficial importance. Having arrogated the key functions of health and education to their own ambit, public sector players have completely botched their performance.

While they tend to be the shrillest about "equity", their ruinous management of health and education have resulted in stunning "inequities" -- as well as concurrent inefficiencies. They cheerfully care little about the latter but reveal their cynicism by how they choose to treat their charges' health and education.