Dear readers, let me set a scene for you. First, a woman turns on her computer. This woman is still recovering from the psychological strain of an international assignment in teaching the English language in a small Eastern European country where gifted young people fight for spots at universities in other countries. Still bleary-eyed because it’s Monday morning, the woman opens Firefox and enters the URL of a blog she likes to follow. She scrolls down the page until the blogger quotes some higher-educated American saying bullshit like this where he knows perfectly well that other people can see him:
Education’s a good like any other. If people refuse to spend their own money for more education, then it’s presumably just not worth it, right? This is especially clear because governments habitually subsidize education. Libertarians should believe that there’s an oversupply of education for the same reason they believe there’s an oversupply of sport stadiums: The status quo is desperately dependent on government funding.
And then the woman sprays her coffee all over the monitor screen.
So…I guess if some people are homeless, it’s because having a roof over your head just isn’t really important to them, right? And if some people don’t spend money on medical treatment, they must not be sick. (As opposed to, just…that they have no money to spare on anything aside from food and protection bribes to the local thugs?)
Well, I suppose Bryan Kaplan sort of has a point about the value of education. He grew up in an educational culture that expended valuable resources on teaching him economics and then released him out onto the world to claim that Third Worlders don’t really need to learn how to read. Governments don’t need to spend money on social goods, because if these goods were really needed, people would pay for them without the government’s help. If people aren’t paying for them, they’re not really necessary. And we know they’re not really necessary because people living in abject poverty aren’t paying for them.