Arnold Kling  

Second Term Policies

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Growth and Economic Literacy... Exit Polls...

Marginal Revolution offers advice for economic policy for the second term of President Bush.


7. Take in more immigrants, but demand higher levels of skills and education. At the very least, take in any revenue-positive immigrant.

8. Abolish the Department of Education.

9. Abolish the Department of Energy.


Many of the suggestions would appear to be non-starters politically.

I think that the over-riding issue is how to limit/reduce government's involvement in the economy. The three areas where this is most important are retirement security, health care, and education.

I believe that the optimum policy on retirement security is to raise the retirement age and index it for longevity. However, I also favor private accounts.

I believe that for health care it is important to try to have more of the health care spending of the elderly funded by their own saving rather than by taxes. Maybe health savings accounts are the answer, but I think that simply getting the public to understand the general principle that health care is something you should provide for yourself is an uphill battle.

On education, the President seems committed to trying to reform public schools by focusing on performance. I am skeptical of this policy. Why not try to enact vouchers now, when there is a solid Republican majority?

For Discussion. What should be the top economic priority in the second term?


Comments and Sharing





COMMENTS (41 to date)
Bernard Yomtov writes:

Serious deficit reduction. Doesn't have a snowball's chance, of course, but right now that's the pressing issue.

adam writes:

www.HowStuffWorks.com has an interesting article on "How the Electoral College Works" - Thought you might want to check it out considering once again, the election came down to a close race for one state's votes.

Also... in the event that you were unhappy with the results of this election... check out www.didntvotebush.com


thanks!

John Dunbar writes:

Comments following these topics:

7 - Our approach to immigration should be like that of recruiting for a football team. WE should decide who immigrates, and we should be aggressive about getting the ones we want. We could follow the weighed scoring approach used by many countries. The key is to go after the ones we want and to throw out the ones who sneak in under the fence and clog up the emergency rooms (revenue-negative).

8 - "Abolish the Dept. of Education." Amen. There is a case, albeit a weak one, for local government funded education. That case develops the assumption that education of all citizens to a certain minimum level pays off to all citizens. And, furthermore that education costs less when it is big and resources can be shared, blah, blah, blah. The trouble is government officials will be government officials. And, they meddle, expand, and don't deliver. At a minimum, the solution is to get rid of the federal role, and return that role back to the counties of each state. And perhaps return to educating students only through the 8th grade using government (county) resources, then after that it's private all the way. Unfortunately, President Bush made expanding the Dept of Education his first step in office.

9 - "Abolish the Department of Energy" - I agree.

"I think that the over-riding issue is how to limit/reduce government's involvement in the economy." I agree because increasing economic freedom brings increased economic wealth to all involved.

John Dunbar

Boonton writes:
At a minimum, the solution is to get rid of the federal role, and return that role back to the counties of each state. And perhaps return to educating students only through the 8th grade using government (county) resources, then after that it's private all the way. Unfortunately, President Bush made expanding the Dept of Education his first step in office.

Both you and Arnold seem to suffer from poor education about education. What do you think the status quo is? Education is probably 90% or more local and state gov't funded with the Dept. of Education stepping in only for 'special education' for kids with disabilities (a fair role since one disabled kid could cost a small fortune for a small community to educate) as well as what is essentially data collection. We probably don't need a 'Dept. of Education' but getting rid of it would simply make it a sub-department of something else.

This dovetails in with vouchers. The reason Bush will have a tough time enacting vouchers is it would require Federalizing education. You have to trample on the states to force them to close their Board of Ed's as well as stop funding education thru property & state taxes. The Federal gov't would have to create & enforce rules on what qualifies as schooling that can accept vouchers. Look for massive fights over off beat schools (nation of islam, fringe Christian groups) who will want their share of taxpayer funds.

Lawrance George Lux writes:

The paramount issue must not be Deficit reduction, but reduced Government spending at all three levels of Government. This means cutting total Government spending in the Country as a whole, by at least Two percentage points of GDP.

We have to fund the part of the Military which We must have, this means the Draft and five more active Divisions of troops. We must stop the use of National Guard and Reserve troops indiscriminately, pulling skilled labor away from high income employment.

The Health Care issue can only be settled by limitation of benefits, alongside some form of Price controls. Health Care cannot continue to increase at three times the rate of Inflation. The best way to do this is to limit Patent rights to a set limited fee per unit, with Everyone capable of producing with payment of this fee. Price control on health costs should insist on Charges being set on Use, not on Services rendered. A negotiated Price per Doctor's visit, Clinic visit, and Hospitalized Day. This will allow health care professionals to distribute medical resources as they see fit, curtailed by their own desire to make a Profit.

Education is also a bloated whore, worse than modern military units--the tail is so huge, it wags the dog. We need to spend, and only spend, on the necessities of Education. lgl

Dan writes:

Tyler seems to be under the mistaken impression that we elected a libertarian, not a conservative. The republican party will throw us a bone to keep us from defecting, but in general conservatives are quite opposed to our policy positions. I think they like subsidies, tariffs, and corporate welfare and are generally anti immigration and science. We might get the AMT tax repealed and some pull-out from Europe though.

Brad Hutchings writes:

I want to see tax simplification in a way that defangs the class warriors for at least a decade. That could be a sales tax to replace the income tax or a flat tax on income above some modest amount and elimination (phasing out) of home mortgage deduction, etc. TEFRA in 1986 got us used to the idea that 40% incremental taxation was punative, although the tax code is more complex now than pre-TEFRA. Perhaps a new round could get us used to the idea that a graduated income tax above semi-comfortable income levels ("lower middle class" in the class warrior parlance) is bad policy.

Social security reform is a close second. Isn't Congress supposed to be able to handle two regional conflicts simultaneously?

Boonton writes:

I think your right Dan. How could Bush abolish the Dept. of Energy? Who will distribute the pork to 'essential' companies.

cb writes:

HSA's and privatisation are doable, at least incrementally to start. Boonton offered the biggest tidbit of realism I'v seen in a while. I don't see anyway that local systems are going to give up their funds for school choice. Given the entrenchment and amount of funds, federalism will be impossible to do, politically. Does anybody have any idea how the system in Wisconsin worked? I haven't heard anything for a while, I don't even know if it's still in place. If memory serves me, Milwaukee's school district had it imposed on them in a limited basis. I can easily see an entrenched system beating back initiatives over time. Wow, how depressing. After that realization, I can't see vouchers as anything but a pipe dream. Somebody please give some ideas that are doable realistically.

cb writes:

A point about health care, it seems to me a significant amount of the cost is doctors and hospitals protecting themselves from lawsuits, malpractice insurance, and the fact that it is by and large 'free' to the user. In another thread, I said that when the incremental cost for more medical services in zero, they will be used more than they are needed.

cb writes:
We must stop the use of National Guard and Reserve troops indiscriminately, pulling skilled labor away from high income employment.

As opposed to those who are drafted? Whatever, won't go over politically. Dead issue.


It is interesting that our law schools are filled and growing, while our medical schools are not putting out enough doctors to replenish the retiring doctors. Hmmmm, I wonder if it's the lawsuits. How ironic. The bad chasing out the good.

Anything that reduces lawyers abilities to make money is high on my list. They don't provide enough good to the society relative to their income, in my opinion. Simplifying the tax code would wipe out legions of lawyers and accountants whose purpose in our economy is to help people avoid as much taxes as possible. That has no economic benefit to society. All those smart people should be doing something economically useful.

David Thomson writes:

I have faith that we will be very pleased by President Bush's second term. He seems very confident and will go for broke. This is George W. Bush's last hurrah. There are no more future elections to worry about. My gut instincts tell me that he will kick butt and take no prisoners.

Higher education should be based on Tax Loans. http://tomgrey.motime.com -- the gov't has a contract with an individual, loans money.
The money is repaid by the person's taxes! Plus some loan repayment surcharge.
The student becomes the owner of, and responsible for, his own education.

The government needs to start itemizing the specific benefits to each individual, and corporate entity. The problem is to break the voters of their addiction to OPM -- other people's money.

Sick people should get loans -- when they die, their resources go to pay the loans first. If nothing is left for inheritance, nothing is left -- but unpaid gov't loans should also not be left. Though there should be a repayment insurance on loans, as well.

Mcwop writes:
This dovetails in with vouchers. The reason Bush will have a tough time enacting vouchers is it would require Federalizing education. You have to trample on the states to force them to close their Board of Ed's as well as stop funding education thru property & state taxes. The Federal gov't would have to create & enforce rules on what qualifies as schooling that can accept vouchers. Look for massive fights over off beat schools (nation of islam, fringe Christian groups) who will want their share of taxpayer funds.

Why can't states decide on voucher systems of their own making, and the federal government just stay the heck out of the way? You list a some "turf" issues with vouchers. Well there are a litany of issues with inept government provision of education too. Baltimore City is proof positive of that ineptitude.

Boonton writes:

mcwop, there's nothing stopping the states from setting up vouchers on their own. Well there is one thing, except in a few limited cases (big city school systems) they simply do not want to.

The majority of people feel the schools are going to hell in a handbasket, yet most people also feel their local school is doing fine....its all the other ones that are the problem. When it comes down to it I suspect many voters:

1. Do not want to give up control of their school system.

2. Do not see a need for radical change at their school.

3. Probably see their community as too small to support a 'market' of different school.

Jim Glass writes:

The top half-dozen issues or so should all be getting a start on closing the $50 trillion (maybe $75 trillion?) current value entitlement funding gap that starts hitting for real in about 10 years.

To put this in perspective, GAO projected in 2001 that on then-current policy and economic projections "government would end" around 2045 as annual deficits exceed 20% of GDP -- the size of the entire federal government today -- and rocket straight up through compounding. Spending on SS, Medicare and Medicaid alone would be more than the size of today's entire gov't -- the bulk of it Medicare.

And that was projecting a continued boom with surpluses being saved through today, no recession, no war, and no Bush tax cuts, no new big new drug benefit...

Bush's tax cuts have since increased that gap by about 1/7th. Arguing about fiscal policy on their scale is something less than rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic -- with no Bush tax cuts 2045 still arrives.

It's the spending, stupid. Promised spending must be cut to close that gap directly -- and promised spending will have to be cut to get major tax increases to help close the gap from the other direction, as part of any political deal to get the tax increases.

Of course, since this dwarfs all other issues -- nothing else has conceivably threatened the US gov't since the Soviets stood down their missiles -- no politician in either party said a word about it during the campaign.

Links to the GAO study, data, an interactive entitlement calculator and some other relevant things are available through here.

These programs don't have to actually be restructured immediately, but there is going to have to be a serious period of educating the public and the politicians about reality here, before they can be restructured. That's going to take time, and intrest is compounding, so that had better start immediately.

This'll be the big test of Dubya and the Repubs on domestic policy. Whether they are willing to be the first grapple with this big issue -- or whether, like Clinton and everybody else to date, they just push it off onto somebody else's watch while politicizing minor issues to pick up a few more votes in 2006 and 2008, making the big problem even worse in the future.

spencer writes:

Question on abolishing the education dept.
I would like to see a conservative answer to the point that education quality is inversely related to federal involvement.

Our grade and high schools have essentially no federal involvement and those schools are poor.
Those schools in high income community are fine but in poor communities schools are bad.

The problem is a lack of resources in poor schools
-- the very students that are hardest to educate.

Undergrad education is good and has significant federal involvement.

Grad education is best in world and it is dominated by federal involvement.

Before you go too far on advocating private schools would you give me some comments on what this relationship implies about education.

Are you sure you are properly diagnosing the problem?

Jim Glass writes:
"The problem is a lack of resources in poor schools -- the very students that are hardest to educate."

Demonstrably false. With so much evidence it's hardly imaginable to me that there are still people who believe it's true.

"The paradox of urban school reform is the steady increase in education cost per pupil with no increase in student outcomes ... factoring for inflation, (NYC) per-student spending has risen 80% while graduation rates, SAT performances, and
Regents results have declined".

-- Robert Sarrel, then Budget Director of the NYC Board of Education.

If resources are the key, then how come when resources go up by 80% results fall?

The key is accountability for results. What organization can you name that is effective with no accountability for performance?

Now, take a moment to read what a NYC public school teacher wrote about accountability for performances in the NYC public schools, and say again the problem is lack of money.

As Albert Shanker, head of the American Federation of Teachers, used to say: "It's hard to believe that spending more money shouldn't improve the quality of education, but easy to believe the way we spend money it doesn't."

If even so you still believe the problem is poor neighborhood schools getting less money, then consider this:

It is the big urban public school systems themselves that are the worst offenders at shifting money away from poor neighborhoods and into rich ones, at the insistance of the teachers' unions.

All the major unionized public school systems give teachers and other union members seniority transfer rights, which they use to pick the best and most attractive schools -- which of course are in the good, rich neighborhoods, with the easy kids from those neighborhoods.

This of course means the that the poor, bad neigborhoods with the kids who need the most help get the beginner, novice staff.

It also means, since these big urban school districts keep teacher-to-student ratios uniform throughout, that the rich neigborhood schools get much more money per student for teaching expenditures than do the poor neighborhood schools.

To quote Sarrel again:

"... comparing actual salaries of teachers in different schools, those of one school may be double that of another ... teachers in schools with high levels of reading disadvantaged students are consistently younger and less experienced ... schools serving youngsters from lower income categories have more uncertified teachers, poorer facilities, and higher class sizes..."

Note well: this is *within* one single public school system, due to union work rules. The public school system itself shifts resources from the poor to the rich on a major scale.

So if you really believe that's a problem, you have a bone to pick with the public schools!

BTW, one excellent remedy for this problem is vouchers. They give every school the same real money per student.

And that's one of the real reasons why the teachers' unions hate vouchers. In any sort of system where the same money per student goes to the school and the school principal can hire as he wants according to the school's needs, then seniorty transfer job assignments determined by the union are eliminated.

The unions don't like experiments with that kind of management at all. It might work.

cb writes:

Post high school educational institutions compete for students and therefore funds. Local schools do not, with the exception being suburban school districts against other nearby suburban school districts. That is the one and only reason.

Jim Glass writes:

Typo in my post above. It should read...

"... To put this in perspective, GAO projected in 2001 that on then-current policy and economic projections 'government would end' around 2045 as annual interest expense on the national debt by itself exceeds 20% of GDP -- the size of the entire federal government today -- and rockets straight up through compounding..."

spencer writes:

Jim Glass --OK when I get into education I am outside my area of experience and have to ask a lot of questions. My comments are not based on stats, but personal experience as the son of a school princpal and the father of a teacher.

But let me ask a simple question of the NYC study you cite. My impression is the number of students that are from middle and upper class students in NY and other urban families has fallen steadily. So my question is, are these schools teaching the same type of student body at the end of the reference period as at the start of the reference period. IE, is the cause of the result a change in the sample.

With my background I can see where you are coming from on teacher unions. But I would argue that the cause and effect is the opposite direction.
We pay teachers so poorly and expect so much of them that they have been forced to build unions to protect themselves. I'm over 60, but when I was young teachers were considered professionals and treated as such. Of course the bulk of teacher were women that had little other job opportunities so we exploited them. OK, we gave women other opportunities and did not raise teacher salaries. So we ended up with poor teacher that join unions to protect themselves.
Of course, I have no experience in large urban systems although my daughter taught in a Detroit charter school with no union. Her main problem is that no one had ever exected anything from the kids. But you solution to that problem is to blame the unions. If the political system only expects teachers to be baby sitters is that the fault of the teachers union or the community that pays them only to be baby sitters.

From listening to you on teacher unions it sounds to me like Bush talking about lawyers being responsibe for soaring health care costs. I know something about that and lawyers are a very minor part of the reason health care costs are soaring.


I would like to discuss things like this. OK, I am a business economists that knows how the economy really works -- I never taught and have my own consulting firm. But so much of what I read in conservative webs about economics is so
unrealistic that it is hard to have a discussion.
You are constantly claiming 2+2 = 6.
Why should I think your comments on education are any better.

spencer writes:

Jim-- ok--many things cause cost of education to rise. I will take your study at face value-- but it provides no evidence that the problem is teacher unions. I could go through and say the education in urban center is poor and cost rises for reasons a,a, b,c... m,n,. OK, teacher unions are one of them. What evidence do you have that teacher unions account for 25% or 5% of the cost increase. How much of the cost is due to the fact that we now try to educate students that 25 years ago we just kicked out of the system.
Can you give me a comparison of the costs of this verus the cost of unions? Yet you say the solution to the problem is eliminating unions.

It is like Bush saying that eliminating trial lawyers will solve the problem of rising health care cost. Sure, and I have a bridge out of NY I would like to sell you shares in.

Boonton writes:

Another thing irks me about the education debate is any serious look at how we are supposed to really know education is all that bad in the US.

Back in the 80's "A Nation at Risk" said that if a foreign nation had been responsible for the state of US education it would be an act of war. Japan, Germany and so many other countries had education systems that were preparing their children for the FUTURE(tm).

Yet, amazingly, what happened after the 80's? The supposedly poorly education American workforce pushed forward with the computer revolution and then the information revolution. I'm not talking about just those who graduated from college with science degrees. My brother-in-law, a HS drop out who is a truck mechanic easily researches stuff on the Internet. HS graduates take office temp jobs where they crunch numbers with spreadsheets, make power point presentations and use word processors.

Where are the results of this horrible educational environment? It would appear that the adult US population, with some exceptions, is doing just fine. I suggest that the 'the sky is falling' crowd consider some of the studies that show increased education in developing countries has much lower returns to investment than expected. Perhaps the US economy has more than enough education...???

shamus writes:

The top priority should be reform of entitlement programs. Some estimate there will be a $60 trillion shortfall in these programs. They're fiscal timebombs, but it's not too late to defuse them.

cb writes:

Why do we have to just let in the skilled and educated? Seems to me the maids, convenience store clerks, fruit pickers, construction workers, etc. are doing jobs nobody wants anyway, and compared to where they came from, they see it as a godsend. What's that movie line, 'somebody has to dig ditches'. I'd rather have somebody that wants to do it, payes taxes, doesn't complain, puts their kids through college, and loves the opportunities that America provides is better than class warfare.

Jim Glass writes:

"We pay teachers so poorly and expect so much of them that they have been forced to build unions to protect themselves."

Those NYC teachers at the link above: salary $39,000 to $81,000, average $56,000, for a 180-day work year, 6-hour 20-minute work day, superior benefits, job security as described, and a sabbatical year off with pay. Sound poor and exploited?

You didn't answer my question about naming any real organization that is good and effective at anything without it's members being accountable for performance.

"... when I was young teachers were considered professionals and treated as such. Of course the bulk of teacher were women that had little other job opportunities so we exploited them. "

You exploited professionals? Pretty much the definition of "professional" is that professionals get paid as per the quality of their work.

."..ok--many things cause cost of education to rise. I will take your study at face value-- but it provides no evidence that the problem is teacher unions."

The teachers unions move money from poor neighborhood schools to rich neighborhood schools, as explained above. You said that's what you object to -- the better neighborhoods getting more money when the poor ones need it.

If you want proof, read the union contracts. Or count up the teacher and staff salaries in rich neighborhood and poor neighborhood schools in urban school districts like NYC. See which neighborhood's schools spend the most money.

Or read again the NYC Board of Ed's Budget director on this point:

"... comparing actual salaries of teachers in different schools, those of one school may be double that of another ... teachers in schools with high levels of reading disadvantaged students are consistently younger and less experienced ... schools serving youngsters from lower income categories have more uncertified teachers, poorer facilities, and higher class sizes..."

There you are.

Vouchers eliminate that "salaries at one school may double those at another" disparity, so the poorer neighborhood schools gain resources. One point for them.

Though the main point is they introduce accountability for performance for everyone.

P.S.: I don't blame the teachers' unions for every problem in public education. Far from it. There are parts of the US that have weak unions or no teachers unions and have serious problems.

I just blame them for the problems *they* are responsible for where they are -- shifting money from poor to rich neighborhool schools in large urban school districts, and totally insulating their members from accountability for performance as described by the NYC teacher at the link above. And being a huge intransigent obstacle to experimentation, innovation, change and reform.

Boonton writes:

Jim,

Couple of issues:

1. Why focus on NYC? Whenever I hear someone talk about raising taxes on the rich and they define rich as, say 100K+ some conservative will say something like "Do you think $100K is rich in New York City!"

2. Money is moved in your example but only because the older teachers opt to work in a nicer environment. You've implicitly assumed that quality follows tenure, do you see that? If that's the case then 'quality' teachers will demand a premium even in a non-unionized pure market environment. Many would still end up in the nicer communities because those parents would be able to pay them a premium.

You aren't going to impose price controls are you? If the voucher is for $3500 you aren't going to make it illegal for a parent to send their kid to a $4000 a year school by chipping in $500 of their own. Are you?

mcwop writes:

Proof that schools are not providing quality education:

- I am proof. I spent a good part of my early college years reworking weak reading and writing skills. The public shcools I attended for 15 or so years were terrible, and I had caring parents too.

- Ask any college professor if the majority of incoming public school students meet their college preperatrion expectations.

- Look at math and science knowledge in the general population

- Ask any HR person at hiring companies about the basic skills of prospective hires (reading, word comprehension, etc...).

spencer writes:

Jim -- my first impression of your comment about good teachers moving to good schools and young teachers being in poor schools seems to prove my point, not yours. OK, I am not trying to be a wise guy, what am I missing.

OK, you want to talk about poor schools. When I was in grade school in the 1950s in north georgia
I had a teacher that taught that a number times zero was the number. I now work and live in the Boston area and have had to work like a dog for my entire adult like to overcome my poor education.

Everything I have ever seen showed that parents income and mothers education dominated a students record and implied that schools have little value added. A generation OK it was Ok to have a large number of dropouts, but in todays economy we can not afford to have an uneducated labor force.
Just look at the exam Ford gives people that apply for an assembly line job. Where our schools are failing is trying to educate the poor students we use to tell to drop out and get a job.
Maybe we ought to study how the army -- the army is the best education institution in the country --teaches such kids and apply those lessons to the schools.

But my point is that you seem to have a faith in the private sector that is not justified when it comes to education. Private schools seem to have a better recod because they pick their student body. Otherwise, I see little difference between private and public schools.

Boonton writes:
- Ask any college professor if the majority of incoming public school students meet their college preperatrion expectations. - Look at math and science knowledge in the general population - Ask any HR person at hiring companies about the basic skills of prospective hires (reading, word comprehension, etc...).

Ask any cook about the state of the typical American diet?

If basic skills of 'prospective hires' are so horrible why is wage & income growth positive? In economics we should try not to measure things based on how we feel but on things that can be objectively observed...such as market prices.

Guy writes:

To slide the topic away from education, I'm not sure why Tyler chose to emphasize bilateral trade agreements rather than progress with the Doha Round, particularly since we know the welfare ambiguities inherent in preferential trade liberalization.

I think the massive (and growing at an unsustainable rate) current account deficit may be more problematic, certainly in the short run, than the budget deficit.

Ken writes:

"Yet, amazingly, what happened after the 80's? The supposedly poorly education American workforce pushed forward with the computer revolution and then the information revolution. I'm not talking about just those who graduated from college with science degrees. My brother-in-law, a HS drop out who is a truck mechanic easily researches stuff on the Internet. HS graduates take office temp jobs where they crunch numbers with spreadsheets, make power point presentations and use word processors."

Because a lot of people can succeed in spite of the "education" they're forced to waste their entire childhood sitting through.

Just think how far ahead they'd be if they had a real education. Or if they finished the "education" they get now at 15 instead of 18.

"If basic skills of 'prospective hires' are so horrible why is wage & income growth positive?"

Technological advancement and economic growth. That's been the driver for wage & income growth since before the founding of our Republic.

"In economics we should try not to measure things based on how we feel but on things that can be objectively observed...such as market prices."

And the market price of a high school diploma holder can only be described as "piss-poor", especially considering the enormous investment of time that goes into it (most of which is consumed by blatant stalling)

mcwop writes:

Boonton maybe wage & income growth would be higher with better qualified candidates. I don't base my observations on feel. My company gives candidates a written test for basic skills - really basic - a lot fail the test.

Boonton writes:
Because a lot of people can succeed in spite of the "education" they're forced to waste their entire childhood sitting through.

Just think how far ahead they'd be if they had a real education. Or if they finished the "education" they get now at 15 instead of 18.

Did no nation have the 'real education' you think is necessary? Let's take a starting salary of $24K per year. By starting 3 years earlier a person stands to gain $72K in additional income and presumably a company has at least that much to gain (why pay a person $24K a year unless they are generating at that much income for the employer?). Why not start your own business and hire HS kids and capture those profits?

Technological advancement and economic growth. That's been the driver for wage & income growth since before the founding of our Republic.

yea ok, so the kids in the 70's and 80's had crappy dumbed down education but the US nevertheless experiences 'technological advancement and economic growth' because? Why again? Because there's some economic law that the US will just keep getting better no matter how screwed up everyone is? If we all were given lobotomies here in the US (please no smart ass jokes from our foreign friends ;) ) would we continue to experience 'technological advancement'?

And the market price of a high school diploma holder can only be described as "piss-poor", especially considering the enormous investment of time that goes into it (most of which is consumed by blatant stalling)

Then encourage your kids to drop out and maybe get a cheap GED later on. As I pointed out the cost of not dropping out of HS is $72K in lost earnings.

Boonton maybe wage & income growth would be higher with better qualified candidates. I don't base my observations on feel. My company gives candidates a written test for basic skills - really basic - a lot fail the test.

Yet a lot of people in the US appear to have the necessary skills to make a living & economics tells us that if education was lacking there would be a premium on eduacation in the market...if the return on a HS diploma is small then that probably tells us that while HS level education may be 'basic' it isn't lacking.

Mcwop writes:

Boonton, there are plenty of jobs that do not require a "good" education. Correlating the fact that people are able to make a living, thus public schools must be succeeding is faulty logic. Many people may be succeeding becuase they went on to college, and many people go to private (non-public) schools instead of public ones.

Boonton writes:

I think when conventional wisdom ('the schools are failing') is questioned the burden should be on conventional wisdom to demonstrate its assertions. I'm asking for objective evidence that poor education is a significant problem in the US labor force. Often the evidence presented is only evidence of education itself.

For example, someone might say fewer and fewer NY students can pass the Regents exam. That may be true but that tells us nothing about the economic utility of having more people pass the exam coupled with the cost. To put it bluntly, suppose $250B would ensure that 90% of graduates were proficient in chemistry, calculus, computers and literature. Is there any evidence that this investment will pay off? Or would it provide us with a better return if $250B was invested in post-schooling education...say to retrain workers laid off in declining industries?

"I am a business economists that knows how the economy really works..."

Yet you don't understand the role local monopolies play in education. That's, "what you're missing".

Businesses aren't assigned customers based on residential location by political authority. They have to provide goods and services that customers will voluntarily buy. That's why productivity and customer satisfaction is higher in the private sector. Competition.

Introduce it into K-12 education, and you'll see tremendous improvements.

Boonton writes:
Businesses aren't assigned customers based on residential location by political authority. They have to provide goods and services that customers will voluntarily buy. That's why productivity and customer satisfaction is higher in the private sector. Competition. Introduce it into K-12 education, and you'll see tremendous improvements.

1. It's already there. You are perfectly free to open your own private K-12 school. If your way of providing education is more efficient and productive then parents will find it worthwhile to pay you.

2. Who exactly are the customers here? Isn't the customer the person spending the money in most cases? If the taxpayer is that person then wouldn't he expect to have a lot of say in how the money is spent? vouchers are, essentially, telling the customer he will have a lot less control over how his money is spent. That's why they seem to be defeated except in areas where the customers essentially can't trust themselves (inner city school systems).

cb writes:

Boonton -

1. If parents could send their kid to that school and get a credit on there property taxes for the tuition, I would imagine there would be a mass exodus from public schools. Because the second condition isn't there, only the rich can have there child get a decent education.

2. Funds remitted through intermediaries are arguably customers. In other words, my 'choice' is paid for by taxes, which is set by the entire community, and then the cash goes to the gov't, which is then distributed to the school. If I have a voucher, that is good for education dollars, and I personally choose to whom I give that voucher, I feel I have infinitely more control. I personally decide how much I want to pay and to whom I give it to, it's not a series of collective decisions.

Boonton writes:

cb

1. I suspect you are incorrect otherwise why do so many local communities insist on running a school when they can just issue vouchers in their place? Needless to say no one has established that only the rich get a 'decent education'.

2. 'arguably' is the key word in your second point. Parents are not spending their own money but someone else's. The customers here are the taxpayers who want to pay for good schools and presumably they also want a say in what they are funding. Vouchers is, in essence, giving checks out to parents and disconnecting the taxpayer from how their money is spent. This is why I suspect most of the activity for vouchers has been to impose them on 'other people'.

rick doll writes:

With regard to the Department of Education, since it's acronymic title is so easily confused with the Department of Energy, could it be re-named Department of Public Education?

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