Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Read David Friedman

Sunday, August 31st, 2008

A good friend of mine recently told me how much he had recently been enjoying David Friedman’s writings. After coming across a link to Friedman’s blog recently I was reminded just how good a writer (and commentator) he is.

My friend told me how Friedman’s book The Machinery of Freedom (originally written in 1971), was shifting his views from minarchist to anarcho-capitalist. (David is after all, even more radical than his famous father.)

Here on his blog, he talks about the Georgia-Russia dust up:

I have no special expertise on the Georgian conflict, nor much sympathy for either side. I am, however, struck by the fact that most of the international condemnation is aimed at the most defensible, not the least defensible, part of what Russia has done.

Russian recognition of two breakaway provinces, both of which seem to have been effectively independent for over a decade, may or may not be a good idea, but I find it hard to see any reason to be outraged over it. The current governments there may be better or worse than the government of Georgia, but they pretty clearly have more support from the local population–and in any case, governments don’t decide what other governments to recognize primarily on the basis of whether they approve of them. Yet it is the Russian recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia that western governments have been expressing outrage over.

What is outrageous, in terms of international law and norms as I understand them, is the fact that the Russian military continues to hold territory well inside Georgia and well outside South Ossetia. That is both a violation of public Russian promises and an invasion of undisputed territory. But nobody–at least, none of the nations that are condemning Russia at the moment–seems to be paying very much attention to it.

Freedom in Education

Monday, August 18th, 2008

Over on DiscoverScholars.org blog, we discuss how government interference has undermined market forces and led to a lower quality of teaching than students would otherwise receive.  Here’s a snippet:

Though Gwartney focuses on government subsidies, the same basic principles apply to private donations: when made directly to colleges, they enable administrations to fund projects of little benefit to students. These projects include:

  • bloated bureaucracies that directly benefit the administrators,
  • research projects that directly benefit the faculty, with only questionable benefits to most students, and
  • ever more luxurious student amenities, in what Richard Vedder calls the countryclubization of universities.

These measures increase costs without improving education, and are especially damaging when a college experiences a decline in donations and has to make up budget shortfalls with tuition increases.

Gwartney’s suggested solution for government spending mirrors the concept of DiscoverScholars.org: donors, including the government, should subsidize students directly. By giving students the power to vote for the best teachers with their tuition checks, incentives would again be properly aligned.

Administrators and professors would devote resources to improving education and lowering costs, rather than spending on their pet projects or cozy amenities. (There would still be room for such institutions, of course – some students want a college experience that includes luxuries and networking). Donors wishing to support research would similarly focus on research laboratories and think tanks, instead of conflating research with teaching at universities.

Most importantly, as we discussed in a recent post, students would be able to choose schools based on the education they would receive there – education that would become cheaper as such colleges begin competing over discriminating students armed with donor money.

Read the whole post here.