Friday, May 25, 2012

A quick note on school subsidy

The government here subsidises private schooling quite heavily, and a
recent report urged them to stop. It won't because it's a political
hot potato, which would see it excoriated in the press.

Supporters of the subsidy say that it is fair because people who do
not send their kids to public school deserve the same spending on
education as people who do.

I have no sympathy for that view at all. What governments should be in
the business of is opportunity. They are not money pumps that simply
hand everyone $x for education. They are facilitators of opportunity
for children. So they should not be subsidising children who already
have an advantage over those whose parents could not, subsidy or
otherwise, send them to private school. They should be spending their
education money on improving public schools to equalise opportunity.

These are different ideas of equity. On one side, people who feel that
it's unfair if someone gets "something for nothing" because they have
"worked hard" for everything they have and why can't everyone else?
and on the other, people who feel that society already has plenty of
unfairness and governments can do something to rectify it. You can't
really close the divide because one of the major political parties
relies on the politics of resentment to get themselves elected.
Without it, the Liberals here would simply never acquire power,
because frankly, their policies have always been inimical to the
wellbeing of most citizens. I don't think there are enough people who
hate gays and foreigners enough to win elections based simply on
bigotry, but there are plenty of rugged individualists who don't
understand how society has made their wellbeing possible.

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