Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Freedom of Choice

Megan McArdle is on fire:
Forgive me--I'm about to get testy again--but this thread on 11D really does seem to me to showcase in stunning technocolor the moral bankruptcy of voucher opponents who have pulled their own kids out of failing inner city schools. They have no good answer for why their choice is morally worthy, but vouchers are horrifying; their response to the deep need of kids in failing schools is a slightly gussied up version of "screw you, I've got mine." Their children's future, you see, is an infinitely precious resource that trumps their principles of distributional justice and community solidarity, but they cannot imagine putting the futures of poorer, darker skinned children ahead of sacred principles such as "Thou shalt not allow children to attend schools run by the Catholic Church" and "Supporting the public schools (even when they suck)". I could do a better job arguing against school vouchers.

Indeed, I shall, though of course largely for the purpose of illustrating why I find these arguments unconvincing:

Arguments on taxation and public schools and health care always leave me impotently frustrated. The arguments I receive from the other side tend to be so far from logical that I'm not sure they'd pass a Turing test.

For example, I once was discussing the Bush tax cuts and was informed that the tax cuts disproportionately helped the 'wealthy.' I said, "then let's cut the taxes for the lower guys, too." It wasn't that he disagreed with this that bothered me but how. He had a flustered, "that's not the point" reaction which confused me to the point of ending the discussion. It is as if, to them, the problem isn't that we won't generate enough revenue but that we aren't punishing people enough for having money.

I feelt he same way about vouchers. It is as if allowing other people to choose where their kids go to school somehow hurts them personally. They don't react with logical arguments or lines of reasoning but instead immediately flip the personal attacks button to spray mode. Any discussion of how health care shouldn't be mandatory and universal engenders the same response.

It is as if the thing they truly abhor is personal choice. The personal choice you gain from having lots of money. The freedom to bus your kids to a more distant but superior school. The availability of good health care at a higher price or the ability to deny coverage if you don't want to pay for it. These freedoms are anathema to the left and I just can't figure out why.

It isn't just those choices that they want to take away, oh no! You shouldn't smoke. You shouldn't eat fried food. You shouldn't drink. You shouldn't eat corn. But it isn't enough to acknowledge that people, by and large, make many bad decisions. They need to find a way to prevent it. They need a way to make us all make the same good™ choices they would make.

But here's where I get confused. These people are almost universally the same people that bitch about conformity and Bush-bots and sheeple. They complain loudly that we're all just cookie-cutter versions of each other driven like a herd to consume, consume, consume!

But if that is a Bad Thing™ then why do they simultaneously think we should all have the same health care and the same education and the same diet? Why should we, in effect, all be forced by the state to become the same person?

Am I the only person that isn't getting this? Am I the only one that sees this coming?

I'll leave you with Megan's response to what I'd say is a standard nonsensical statement from the Nanny Statists:
There's no way to assure the quality of private schools Ha. Ha. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Seriously? The problem with private schools is that they can't match the same level of quality we've come to expect from our urban public school system? And what else have you learned in your visit to our planet?

I've never heard a better argument against vouchers (Social Security privatization likewise) and that should tell you something.

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