Pay up, peasant, you're not going anywhere - Open Knowledge — LiveJournal
Aug. 28th, 2003
11:24 am - Pay up, peasant, you're not going anywhere
In a discussion with slit about the virtues of tax-subsidized schooling, she expressed concern that without tax-subsidies for education, working class women will be forced to either give up their jobs and stay home to take care of their kids ("ghettoized"), or not have kids at all. Here's my (edited) response:
I want women and children to get out of the ghetto too. However, I think that tax-subsidies for schools are a big part of the reason people remain in the ghetto.
We both agree, I think, that tax-subsidized schools have many failings. Why do those failings persist, despite decades of political promises to "reform" the schools? In my view, the fundamental problem is that of all state-enforced monopolies: if your customers are forced to pay, what incentive do you have to change crappy policies? After all, you get the money either way. (Also, politicians like schools for indoctrination purposes.)
I expect that as long as schools are allowed to force people to pay, they will continue to perform poorly. If schools were freed, however, I expect innovation to bloom, and costs to go down (as less money is wasted on bureaucratic layers). In the end, I think "ghetto" kids and mothers would have a much better chance of breaking out of poverty than they do now.
If my mate and I can't afford to pay for daycare/education, and if both of us want to work, then the appropriate decision is not to have the kid in the first place.
It's not possible to make such a one-time decision with any kind of confidence. Spouses die, or become disabled. People divorce. Partner A might lose a good-paying job, forcing Partner B to pick up the slack.
Yes, this is true. Life involves risks. However, how do you know that subsidizing the risks of childbearing is the best way to spend the money? For example, how do you know that it wouldn't be better spent investing in new businesses? After all, if people have good jobs, they can afford to pay for schooling themselves. Or perhaps it would be better spent reducing other risks--for example, perhaps I would use the money to fund peace activist work, which might, in turn, help prevent the U.S. from waging a costly war.
Even if I were to spend the money on hookers and beer, on what ethical basis do parents have a higher claim to the money I've earned than I do? As far as I can see, the basis of the claim is: "There are more of us than there are of you. You have three choices a) pay b) move c) go to jail." While that is better than justifications of times past--"God says I'm King. Pay up, peasant, you're not going anywhere."--I prefer social relations that are based on voluntary trade ("Let's trade because we'll both be better off if we do.") rather than implicit (or explicit) threats of violence.