Education: Doing Away with the Public School System
by Andrew Young and
[Posted on Saturday,
August 19, 2006]
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[This article originally appeared in International Journal
of Value-Based Management 12: 195-207, 1999.]
Besides national defense, no government-provided service enjoys
as much exemption from scrutiny as the provision and subsidization
of primary public education. Even presumed champions of the free
market, such as Milton Friedman, support the government
subsidization of education through high school:
We have always been proud, and with good reason, of the
widespread availability of schooling to all and the role that
public schooling has played in fostering the assimilation of
newcomers into our society, preventing fragmentation and
divisiveness, and enabling people from different cultural and
religious backgrounds to live together in harmony. (Friedman and
Friedman, 1979, pp. 140 — 141)
The very suggestion that government should be removed entirely
from the realm of education is either taken as irrational and
malicious or viewed as foolhardy and quixotic. This seems very
peculiar when considering that the critics of the present state of
public education appear on both sides of the political spectrum.
Still, the overwhelming sentiment, ubiquitous in both the general
citizenry and academia, is that while public education may need to
be reformed, it still should be guaranteed "free" to all by
Education, like any other service, cannot be provided more
efficiently than via the market.
Contrary to most modern arguments claiming to favor the
"privatization" of schools, we do not view the government
contracting of private companies, the issuance of government
vouchers for payment of education, or the direct subsidization of
private institutions as free-market solutions.
Indeed, the only free-market solution is the abolition of all
governmental ties to primary education.
Education is a Service
Primary education — i.e., that which begins in grammar school and
continues up through high school — is a service like any other and
can be allocated through the market and the price system. Parents,
in general, would like to provide education for their children.
Teachers, administrators, and owners of school buildings will
provide this service to these children as long as they are
compensated for their labors. When a parent approaches an institute
of learning, he values the service offered. The school, drawn into
the industry by the desire for profit, incurs
costs in providing its service. It will only accept a price greater
than or equal to these costs. Likewise, the parent will only offer
to pay a price less than or equal to his valuation of the education
rendered. If a price is determined that is satisfactory to both
parties, an exchange will occur and the child will be provided with
the service. In this straightforward way, familiar to every
economist and intuitive to nearly everyone else, the market can
provide primary education just as it provides hair styling,
automotive repair, and the innumerable other services that people
bargain to provide and receive.
Despite virtually omnipresent dogma, there is no simple
explanation as to why government provision of primary education must
be substituted for private alternatives.
Education is a service, and innumerable services are being
provided by the market at any given moment. For society to hold to,
and tax from individuals the resources for, government provision of
primary education, there must be a justification. If it can be
satisfactorily articulated, then, and only then, would government
provision of primary education be legitimate.
What are the arguments in favor of government-provided primary
They are as follows:
- It is a necessary aspect of democracy and, paradoxically, the
citizenry must be taxed for that system to secure their own
- The market would not provide an equal opportunity for and
quality of primary education to everyone.
- Education is an example of an external economy; market
provision would therefore be under optimal.
Let us consider each.
Necessary to "Freedom"?
The view that primary education should be available to all
through a public system has been made inseparable from the concept
of a republican society over the years. Pierce (1964, pp. 3 — 4)
provides a historical demonstration:
Herein originated a new concern for education expressed by
Thomas Jefferson in his belief that people could not govern
themselves successfully unless they were educated…. This concept
has gone through several stages of evolution — from Jefferson's
idea that if people were to vote intelligently they must be
educated as a means of survival in a world of competing
|"Despite virtually omnipresent
dogma, there is no simple explanation as to why government
provision of primary education must be substituted for private
This view of education as catalyst for successful democratic
government has metamorphosed through the passing of time into a view
of education as a veritable necessary condition of freedom. For this
expansion to occur, the meaning of freedom had to be modified. As
Graham (1963, pp. 45 — 46) states, people might mistakenly,
"interpret freedom in terms of their right to criticize and to
choose their masters — the men for whom they work, the politicians
who direct their public affairs, the newspapers, books, speeches,
and television programs that influence their thinking." But a more
correct definition, "for a democratic society would recognize the
need for authority in any social group and equate freedom with the
right to participate in power" (Graham, 1963, pp. 45 — 46). To
participate in the power (i.e., the representative nature of
American government) citizens must have information, ergo to educate
is a legitimate function of the state.
This view of freedom is questionable though. Consider the view of
liberty espoused by John Locke, one of, if not the, major
philosophical influences of the American Revolution.
The Freedom then of Man and Liberty of acting according to his
own Will, is grounded on his having Reason, which is
able to instruct him in the Law he is to govern himself by, and
make him Know how far he is left to the freedom of his own will
(Locke, 1978, p. 3).
Freedom is based primarily upon man's reason according to Locke.
Because he possesses reason, man has the faculties and duty to rule
himself. This Lockean concept of freedom was spread through early
America in Cato's Letters (Rothbard, 1978, p. 4). This
concept of freedom was also that of John Stuart Mill, who wrote
later on in the 19th century: "…the same reasons which show that
opinions should be free, prove also that [an individual] should be
allowed, without molestation, to carry his opinions into practice at
his own cost" (Mill, 1956, p. 23).
Furthermore, while a cultivated citizenry might be more capable
of exercising its influence in a republican government, there is
something perverse in the state itself educating the citizenry on
how to operate the state.
As Lieberman (1989, p. 11) notes:
Simply stated, public choice theory asserts that the behavior
of politicians and bureaucrats can be explained by the same
principals that govern behavior in private economic affairs. In
the latter, persons generally act so as to enhance their self
interest…. [Public officials] act either to get reelected or to
enhance their pay, perquisites, and status. If the purpose of
providing public schooling is to create an informed citizenry
capable of choosing those individuals who run the nation, then
surely the power to determine what is taught and how should not be
rested in the hands of the governing individuals.
As Boaz (1991, p. 19) observes: "Even in basic academic subjects
there is a danger in having only one approach taught in all of the
schools." The state-monopolistic nature of a public school system
fosters undesirable conformity of curricula. Williams (1978)
correctly describes a public educational system as one which,
"requires a collective decision on many attributes of [education],"
and that education is offered to all, "whether or not [a parent]
agrees with all the attributes or not." The
individuals entrenched in positions of power in the state are those
with control over what children are taught concerning history,
government, economics, and so forth.
The result is a citizenry educated by operators of the state on
how to choose the operators of the state!
Of course, those government agents who plan and direct the
curricula are most likely well-intentioned people, but, as
Ludwig von Mises (1952, p. 47) correctly notes: "No planner is ever
shrewd enough to consider the possibility that the plan which the
government will put into practice could differ from his own plan."
In other words, no matter how much such a person sincerely plans in
the interests of others, ultimately the plans are still his own.
Furthermore, it should be realized that, for all the talk about
the noble ideals of Thomas Jefferson, the foundation of America's
government by the people, and the preservation of citizens'
"freedom," the realization of public primary education in the United
States was ushered in with quite ignoble motives. "[O]ne of the
major motivations of the legion of mid nineteenth-century American
"educational reformers" who established the modern public school
system was precisely to use it to cripple the cultural and
linguistic life of the waves of immigrants into America, and to
mould them, as educational reformer Samuel Lewis stated, into "one
people" (Rothbard, 1978, p. 125). Particular targets of the American
educational reformation were the Germans and the Irish. Monroe
(1940, p. 224) articulates, with disarming benignity, the attitude
towards these waves of immigrants and the cultures which they
brought to America:
More than a million and a half Irish and a similar number of
Germans were added to the population. Great numbers of English and
Welsh had also come, but the two former nationalities were
sufficiently concentrated in location to cause their different
racial temperaments and social customs to become new factors in
our political, social, and economic life…. [These] elements as a
whole made the educational problem more distinct, and by
accentuating the tests to which our political and social structure
must be subjected directed the attention of the native population
to the significance of education.
Notice how the English and Welsh, with cultures more compatible
with predominant American beliefs, are mentioned only in passing,
while the more exotic Irish and Germans are elements to which "our
political and social structure must be subjected," creating an
Further, the individual liberties that America granted to its
citizens and "led men to object to all form of governmental
restraint caused such excesses that the success of self government
was seriously questioned. Much of the responsibility for this
condition approaching anarchy was popularly attributed to the
untrained and unbridled foreign element…" (Monroe, 1940, pp. 223 —
224). Immigrant culture was seen as a cancer on the United States
society, incompatible with American liberty. Paradoxically, the
solution which would allow immigrants to enjoy liberty was to deny
them freedom of education and instead force them to pay for public
schools whether or not they wanted to attend.
|"…but in order to justify state
provision it must be shown that state provision indeed
provides a more egalitarian and higher
quality education to all."|
A study of problems with the existing school system by the
Secretary of the Connecticut School Board in 1846 noted numerous
defects: "The tenth defect was the existence of numerous private
schools" (Monroe, 1940, p. 244). The existence of private schools
was seen as especially troublesome with regards to the Irish
Catholics. As Rothbard (1978, p. 125) writes: "It was the desire of
the Anglo-Saxon majority to … smash the parochial school system of
the Catholics." Taxing indiscriminately for education, thus forcing
those individuals who would opt for private education to pay twice
(once in taxes, and again in tuition to the private school), was one
method for discouraging private education. Even more blunt was the
attempt in Oregon during 1920s to outlaw private schools (Rothbard,
1978, p. 126). A law was passed making private primary education
illegal and compelling all children to attend public schools.
Fortunately, in Pierce v. Society of Sisters (1925), the
Supreme Court found the law to be unconstitutional.
No matter what motives are revealed to have been behind the
origin of a public system, however, there are those critics of the
market who reply that presently government assures equal educational
opportunity. The strongest of these critics even finds the lack of
"free" public education to all to be unconstitutional (Pierce, 1964,
p. 12). The fact that market provision would not guarantee this
service to each and every individual is undeniable. Under a market
system, education is not a right. If one does not pay for it then
one does not obtain it. As long
as one pays for it though, one will receive it.
Therefore, to assist the market's critics for a moment, the real
problem they are noting is not a lack of schooling for all. This is
obvious because, under a market system of provision, all can afford
some quality of tutelage, but they are not guaranteed a
high quality service, nor one equal to that which
all other individuals receive. As
the US Department of Education claims: "Our Mission Is to Ensure
Equal ACCESS to Education and Promote Educational EXCELLENCE
throughout the Nation." This
modified argument is still undeniable. A market system would not
provide an egalitarian, high quality education for all; but in order
to justify state provision it must be shown that state provision
indeed provides a more egalitarian and higher
quality education to all.
As far as egalitarian goals go, the state system does a horrible
job. Even its most vehement supporters would scarcely claim that
public schools offer equal quality of education across socioeconomic
lines. Jencks (1985) declares, "the annual expenditure per pupil in
a prosperous suburb is usually at least fifty percent more than in a
slum in the same metropolitan area … taxpayers typically spend less
than $5,000 [per pupil, per year] for the formal education of most
slum children compared to more than $10,000 for many suburban
children." Also, the statist system has failed to equalize primary
education along racial lines. Coleman and Hoffer (1987, p. xxiv)
found in private schools less racial segregation than their public
counterparts. Furthermore, public education, even on average, is far
from high quality. The National Assessment of Educational Progress
reports that 50 percent of all high school seniors in America could
not answer this question:
Which of the following is true about 87% of 10?
- It is greater than 10;
- It is less than 10;
- It is equal to 10;
- Can't tell.
(Boaz, 1991, p. 2)
The NAEP also reported that a mere 7 percent of America's 17 year
old individuals, "have the prerequisite knowledge and skills thought
to be needed to perform well in college-level science courses"
(Boaz, 1991, p. 3). Further, a 1989 National Endowment for the
Humanities survey discovered that 54 percent of college seniors, the
vast majority of whom came from the public school system, could not
identify the half century during which the Civil War occurred, 58
percent could not name Plato as author of The Republic, and
23 percent made the mistake of placing Marx's "from each according
to his ability, to each according to his need," in the text of the
US Constitution (Bacon, 1989).
Not only is the quality of the public school system horrendous,
but its cost is extraordinary. America's public primary schools
spent $5,246 per pupil on average during 1989. That
is $130,000 for a classroom of 25 students.
Furthermore this is above that of many private schools. Of the
approximately $212 million spent on education through high school in
1989, only 40 percent went towards teachers' pay
Where did the other $100 billion plus go? Far too much goes to
administrators and bureaucrats. Boaz (1991, p. l7) writes:
Such massive bureaucracies divert scarce resources from real
educational activities, deprive principals and teachers of any
opportunity for authority and independence, and create an
impenetrable bulwark against citizen efforts to change the school
Graham (1963, p. 57) claims that, "Modern education's chief
contribution to preparing children for life in a democratic society
is its emphasis upon cooperation in solving problems," (Graham,
1963, p. 57) but when a system spends more than twice as much on
bureaucrats than on the actual teachers, there cannot be much
cooperation going on, and the problem that is not being
solved is the unconscionable waste of taxpayer resources.
|"There is no automatic feedback
mechanism encouraging government hirelings to design
productive, cost-effective schooling which fits the distinct
tastes of their 'customers.'"|
The solution to this massive waste of resources being thrown at
goals which do not materialize, is the market. The public education
system wastes resources because, like all socialistic endeavors, it
cannot rationally calculate in the absence of prices and private
property rights (Mises, 1981; Hoppe, 1989). Under a market system,
businesses receive signals from consumers in the form of their
choice to buy or not to buy. Public education, on the other hand,
gets partial signals from consumers (as voters) electing some
officials every few years. Furthermore the signals are muddled by
the fact that voters elect officials based upon a plethora of issues
other than education. On the other hand, consumers of a private
service send a scintillatingly clear, immediate signal when they
choose whether or not to enroll their children.
The clear, immediate signals which a market system provides are
necessary for educational (or any other) firms to be motivated
towards increased productivity. In a private system, teachers,
principals and administrators are accountable to the consumers. Boaz
(1991, p. 28) writes, "[in the public school system] no principal or
teacher will get a raise for attracting more students to his or her
school." Just as critical, principals and teachers are rarely fired
or reprimanded for not providing education excellence in a public
Lieberman (1989, p. 62) notes such in California:
If a district wants to suspend a teacher for as little as one
day, the procedure that must be followed is the same as for firing
a tenured teacher. The district and the employee each appoint
someone to a three-member commission to conduct a hearing on the
suspension. (The other member is a state-appointed hearing
examiner.) If the school district loses, it must pay any
compensation lost by the employee and the employee's hearing
expenses as well. Not surprisingly, only about one teacher in
10,000 is suspended annually in California.
Civil servants lack both positive and negative incentives to
educate children in a manner satisfactory to the parents who foot
the bill (i.e., pay the taxes). There is no automatic feedback
mechanism encouraging government hirelings to design productive,
cost-effective schooling which fits the distinct tastes of their
"customers." For example, perhaps poor families would forgo the cost
of hiring teachers for basic physical education and art classes
which often consist of no more than the activities children pursue
outside of school on their own time. Under the public system,
however, administrators have no incentive to challenge predominant
school structure. If they do, there is no immediate effect on the
tax structure, so parents would only see their children as losing
services with no decrease in the price of education; also there
would be no increase in salary for the inventive of the
administrator. Supporters of the public school system, once having
abandoned market forces as schools' drive toward productivity, can
only point at a district, state, or federal bureaucracy to take
There is only one way to restore the proper incentives toward a
quality educational system. It is to take control away from the
state. As Mises (1952, p. 45) observes, it is a question of either
letting "individuals choose how they want to cooperate in the social
division of labor and … what the enterprise should produce," or
letting "the government alone choose and enforce its ruling by the
apparatus of coercion and compulsion."
Is Education a Public
The final argument put forth in favor of government-provided
primary education is that primary education is a public good. A
public good is one that is nonexcludable and/or a
collective-consumption good (Holcombe, 1997). Nonexcludability means
that there are prohibitive costs to keeping people from consuming
the good once it has already been produced. A collective-consumption
good is one that, once it its produced for an individual, additional
individuals can consume the good at no additional cost. Primary
education, according to the public good argument, is nonexcludable.
Externalities are associated with primary education which cause
benefits to be realized by individuals who are not the primary
(i.e., paying) consumer of education.
Peterson (1991, pp. 345 — 346) writes:
At the family level, the education of the parents should
benefit the children…. Children of [educated] parents are more
likely to attend college…. There is also a tendency for at least
part of the knowledge gained by parents during their school years
to be transmitted to their children…. At the community level, the
education of individuals makes the community a better place to
live for all. For example, one's chances of getting mugged are
greater in neighborhoods where people are poorly educated and have
low incomes than in places where the majority is highly educated
and affluent…. An increase in the educational level of people also
reduces the amount of fear and suspicion that people have of one
another … it helps us become more tolerant of persons who are
different than ourselves.
Because schooling is nonexcludable, it will be provided at a
sub-optimal level. Individuals who benefit from the primary consumer
of education free ride on the provider's (e.g., the
school's) service. Since these free riders are not paying for the
tutelage, educational providers are not receiving payment from the
full scope of schooling demand. Ergo, educational providers will
provide too little schooling. The solution, according to the public
good argument, is that free riders must be made to pay for primary
education (i.e., citizens must be taxed for it) so that it is
optimally provided for.
|"Governments can still control
the flow of ideas without controlling the mass media if they
control the education system."|
There are many problems with this public good argument. The most
glaring problem that should be noted immediately is that, assuming
that education indeed cannot be provided optimally by private means,
what in the world would move someone to believe that government can
better determine the optimal amount? Buchanan (1975) correctly notes
that many economists, as soon as they believe that they have
diagnosed a public good, fail to consider critically the role that
government can play: "It was as if the alternatives for public
choice were assumed to be available independently from some external
source; there was no problem concerning the behavior of [government]
suppliers and producers."
Furthermore, Tideman and Tullock (1976), who labored to design a
process for social choice, admit that, "the process will not cure
cancer, stop the tides, or, indeed, deal successfully with many
other problems." Keeping that in mind, let us also ponder how many
times the political process successfully translates economic theory
into policy reality. In the political world of campaigns, interest
groups and compromise, the answer is: very seldom, if ever.
Therefore, we can not assume that government has the ability to
determine efficient allocations.
Another problem with the public good argument — one which is not
entirely independent from the above problem — is that it is doubtful
that the only motive of the state in operating schools is one of
concern for optimal provision. Above it has been demonstrated that
public schools were founded as a means to attack the culture of
certain immigrant groups. Also, as Holcombe (1997) observes: "…the
government has the incentive to create the impression among its
citizens that its actions are legitimate…. [It can do so by]
creating propaganda that brainwashes citizens to respect government
institutions and processes."
Government desires to educate because it can foster an obedient
and loyal citizenry. "One has no trouble understanding why
dictatorships demand government control over mass media, or why
freedom of the press is viewed as a fundamental check on
government's power…. Governments can still control the flow of ideas
without controlling the mass media if they control the education
system" (Holcombe, 1997).
The public good argument for public schools lacks any strength
when examined. It assumes that government can provide optimal levels
of a service without any justification for such an assumption. Also,
the argument assumes that the state is motivated solely by creating
an optimal provision. However, government has ulterior motives which
work against any presumed motive towards optimality.
All the arguments in favor of a public provision of primary
education prove to be unfounded and/or incorrect. The failure of the
state to provide a high quality service to all (its explicit goal)
has rendered public primary education illegitimate; and the
immeasurable waste of resources and rejection of consumer desires
has left public education borderline immoral. As well, if an
educated citizenry is to be considered necessary for the operation
of the republican government, then it is an inexcusable conflict of
interest when elected officials are the ones in charge of providing
that education. Furthermore, the argument of externalities and
nonexcludability fails to buttress the case for socialist education.
The only ethical, reasonable system for the provision of primary
education is the free market.
Walter Block is Harold E. Wirth Eminent Scholar, Endowed Chair of
Economics Loyola University, and senior fellow
of the Mises Institute. Send him mail. See his articles.
Comment on the blog.
This article originally appeared in International Journal of
Value-Based Management 12: 195-207, 1999. It is also available
 For a discussion of these and other
pseudo-privatization reforms, see Lieberman (1989, pp. 6 — 9).
 A point which is always overlooked by the market's
critics and champions alike, though replete with practical
applications in the workings of the market, is that proft need not
be simply monetary; it can, as well, be emotional and/or
psychological. Who profits more: the teacher who hates children and
is paid $100 to teach a class, or a teacher who adores educating
them but is only paid $75? It can not be determined. True, in a
market society love of one's fellow human being is not usually
perceived as the dominating force behind economic activity. Still,
to discount the goodness of much of humanity is to unjustly portray
self interest and the potential for benevolence in a market economy.
For some interesting comments on this see Friedman (1978, ch.
 Furthermore, there is no simple explanation as to
why the certain and specific tasks which government has chosen to
provide under the catch-all of "education" have come definitively to
describe an education. Education also involves the innumerable
experiences individuals live and learn from, e.g., reading books and
newspapers, watching television, and speaking and debating other
individuals. The classroom is a very limited exposure of learning.
It is worth noting that the market is charged with provision of all
other educational experiences.
 It should be noted that, while Jefferson definitely
valued education highly, it is questionable as to whether he would
have approved of a public education system. Our second president was
part of the drive in early America for very little if any government
which was ultimately stalled by the federalists. For a description
of the Jefferson influence in early America, see Rothbard (1978, p.
 This paradoxical view that true freedom is achieved
through coercion, albeit a coercion controlled by the representative
citizenry, seems truer to many communist ideologies than to the
liberal tradition usually associated with the founding of the United
States. Compare Graham's concept of freedom with the statements of
Peter Kropotkin, a czarist prince and proponent of anarchic
communism: "The people themselves will abolish private property …
taking possession in the name of the whole community of all the
wealth accumulated by the labor of past generations…. Never have men
worked as they will on this day when labor becomes free and
everything accomplished by the worker will be a source of well-being
to the whole commune." See Kropotkin (1970, p. 128).
 Though Graham's concept of freedom was not that
which forged this nation, it has likely become the dominant concept.
Fortunately, there have been recent explorations and expansions of
basic ideas of liberty. For one of the most important, see Hayek
 Brown (1992) has argued that conformity is actually
what consumers of primary education want. He argues: "The
comprehensive uniformity observed in schools can be accounted for in
large part by the presence of uncertainty…. [P]eople will want to
diversify in making their school choices by choosing schools that
have comprehensive uniformity." Basically the argument is that the
conventional school curriculum is a smattering of all fields (i.e.,
Math, History, English, Science, etc.) and that, considering the
study of each subject as a separate investment, consumers are
diversifying their educational portfolios. Therefore, regardless of
whether or not the schools are public or private, conformity of
curriculums will be present across schools. Brown cites the fact
that private schools offer basically the same core curriculums and
are forced to compete, rather, on secondary characteristics such as
religious training. Brown errs in two ways, however. Firstly, he
ignores the fact that even though schools, both private and public,
often offer the same basic subjects, private schools can and do
compete on the margins of how and from which
perspectives they teach the subjects, as well as the
outcomes of the subjects taught (i.e., how well has the student
learned). Secondly, Brown makes a dire mistake in stating the
current curriculums of private schools as the market outcome when
they are competing against a state monopoly which dominates via the
ability to tax tuition (therefore rendering tuition to public
schools a sunk cost to consumers).
 Of course, "most likely" does not mean "always."
Consider The National School Lunch Act of 1946. Obviously there
could be nothing but good intentions towards America's children
behind such a piece of legislation. Actually, the act's purpose was
twofold: first to "safeguard the health and well-being" of the
children, and second to, "encourage the domestic consumption … of
agricultural commodities." Who would have thought that behind such a
seemingly benign act would be a subsidy for America's farmers? The
school lunch program was supplemented in 1954 by the Agricultural
Act, which was designed to increase the consumption of milk by
reimbursing schools (with taxpayers' dollars, of course) for milk
purchases. See Pierce (1964, p. 35). A further problem with this
program is that it is an implicit attack on the family (this applies
to latter school breakfast programs as well). The state properly
sees the family as a competitive institution. Anything that weakens
the former strengthens the latter, and vice versa (this is why the
Soviet government encouraged children to "tattle" on their parents).
What better way to wean youngsters from their parents and into the
all loving embrace of the state than to encourage a system where the
very physical sustenance of the next generation is given over to the
 This statement would seem to preclude education as
a gift of charity (e.g., scholarships) and, in regards to the price
system, it does for the time being. Charity, of course, does exist,
but for the sake of argument it is ignored here to show that even
egoism in the coldest sense of the word is compatible with the
proposal of this paper. Furthermore, as an aside, normally,
scholarships (educational charity) are awarded for achievement of
some sort. Therefore, recipients of scholarships have paid
for their education in their dedication to prior academics,
athletics, etc. The presenter of the scholarship, having deemed the
demonstration of certain qualities pleasing enough to warrant giving
out the educational service for free or at a reduced price, is also
in effect, paid for the education (i.e., psychic income). Perhaps
there are examples where recipients of scholarships have done
nothing to earn them, for instance there are scholarships based upon
race or other ethnic backgrounds, but still the presenter is paid in
the same sense as before noted and the recipient still "supplies"
the characteristic valued by the scholarship provider, i.e., the
correct skin color.
 The poorest of the poor under the present system
could save enough from their welfare checks to buy four or five
books a year for their children; or to pay some high school student
to sit down and do basic math with them for an hour or so. Obviously
this would be education of a very low quality, but it demonstrates
that the problem is not simply that of education for all. It is,
rather, an issue of quality and equality.
 U.S. Department of
Education Web site (3/31/97).
 The socialist Richard Rothstein notes that in
1967 American schools spent only $687 per pupil on average. He then
goes on to write: "It is probable, however, that the use of the
CPI-U [to adjust the past and present expenditures into real
measurements] causes an overstatement of school spending growth." In
other words, America has not really embarked on a drastic increase
in government spending on primary education since the 1960s
(Rothstein, 1996). However, the largely accepted opinion among
economists is that the CPI-U overstates inflation by at least
one percentage point (Belton, 1996). So, in actuality, the use of
the CPI-U understates the increase in educational
expenditures by government.
 "1989 Back-to-School Forecast," Department of
Education news release, August 24 (1989).
 "1989 Back-to-School Forecast," Department of
Education news release, August 24 (1989).
 The actual statistics were 49.2 percent in 1970 —
1971 and 38.7 percent in 1980-1981. If the trend has continued, the
percent could have been closer to 35 percent in 1989, but 40 percent
is granting the benefit of the doubt.
 One should note that, if such nonexcludability is
grounds for government provision, then the functions of government
must be numerous indeed! For example, bakeries must be a proper
function of government. There is almost no one who has not walked by
a bakery and received pleasure, without paying, from the smell of
freshly baked bread. The costs to bakers of prohibiting passers-by
from smelling the bread is almost surely prohibitive. Therefore,
fresh bread is most certainly produced at a sub-optimal level.
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