Donald Trump’s nominee for the Department of Education, Betsy DeVos, is an advocate of school vouchers. One should not exaggerate how much influence she will have in promoting this cause. The United States Department of Education has little direct authority over K-12 education and it certainly should not be given any more, because education is quintessentially a state and local issue. But any cabinet position is a bully pulpit, and classical liberals should hope she uses it to create a more favorable climate for state and local voucher initiatives.
The conventional argument for vouchers, itself classically liberal in nature, is that in the long run they are likely to improve human capital, because they will introduce more competition by supplying more private schools for those parents who want to use them. Schools that do better at matching students with the education that is best for them will gain students at the expense of those that do not. Moreover, more competition will lead to more beneficial innovations that will be shared throughout the K-12 educational system. Thus, even if some schools funded by vouchers do not perform well at first, a more competitive system has greater dynamism than a more government controlled system.
While there is much to be said for the human capital argument, yet another classical liberal argument for vouchers is that they promote a free citizenry by creating schools that compete to instill good values and norms in their students.
In her first formal appearance as head of the United States Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen obliquely suggested the Fed might not raise its mighty “federal funds” rate to tighten the economy until months after its Quantitative Easing bond purchasing ended completely, coyly portending cheap money indefinitely. The market shuddered but soon calmed at the soothing voice of its controller.
Having risen to a record of 3-1 in my fantasy football league on the strength of an opponent who forgot to set his lineup, I have repudiated last season’s view that this is a child’s diversion that does not matter to serious people. I will, however, reserve the right to advert to that perspective when I play our league’s commissioner next week given the fact that he obviously rigged our autodraft, which I am quite certain he did, since there is no way he just happened to wind up with Peyton Manning and the Seattle defense on the same roster, but I digress. The point of these reflections is that fantasy football is not merely unjust—if, that is, I lose—but also destructive of the legitimate ends of the polity: It entails the erosion of particular ties of kinsmanship and loyalty in favor of an egoistic and anonymous individualism freed from bonds of patrie and blood.