By Arvin Vohra, Vice Chair, Libertarian National Committee via FB:
How does real libertarianism, which is freedom + responsibility, address buying a computer? Simple: you can buy whatever computer you want, as long as you pay for it.
It isn’t, “You get to buy whatever computer you want, and then taxpayers have to pay for it.” That would be freedom + irresponsibility. That wouldn’t be the free market. That would be half a free market, that would predictably become out of control. Computer companies would have no reason to try to lower prices. Consumers would have no reason to try to save money. Computers would end up costing hundreds of thousands of dollars.
That’s also how real, freedom+responsibility libertarianism addresses education. You can buy whatever education you want, as long as you pay for it. It’s not, “Buy whatever education you like, and then taxpayer will pay for it.”
Vouchers are not freedom+responsibility libertarianism. They are freedom+irresponsibility welfarism.
At the most basic level, they eliminate price competition. If everyone gets a $5k voucher, what is the reason to make a $4k school? Or a free program, like Khan Academy or Duolingo?
They also attack responsibility. If others will pay for your childrearing costs, why bother being judicious about having children?
However, it is absolutely justifiable to return to someone the tax dollars they would have spent subsidizing public “school”.
Freedom+responsibility libertarianism is also not: “Buy whatever you want, and try to pay for it, but if you can’t, taxpayers will.”
But that’s exactly what we have in college education right now, and it’s one reason that college costs have skyrocketed. Today, people are paying 200k for an education barely worth $2k.
If we eliminate all government subsidies from secondary and higher education, we will see more responsibility, lower costs, and more choice. Educators will experiment with different methods to lower costs. Given that there are already several free, innovative forms of education, low cost education, and places that pay you to get educated, it’s a pretty reasonable prospect.
We have freedom+responsibility libertarianism in the computer market, and freedom+irresponsibility welfarism in the education market.
Which would you like to be the template for our future?
[Editor’s Note: This essay first appeared as a Facebook post on February 20, 2017.]