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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