Monday, October 29, 2007

Megan deflates the common myths against school vouchers

Nice. Some samples:
1) Vouchers don't work ... But most tellingly, this argument is incompatible with removing your own children from failing schools. Either the school makes a difference, or it doesn't. If it doesn't, why are you moving to the suburbs in search of a better school district for your kids?

3) The community doesn't want vouchers. Awesome. Then the community won't take vouchers, and you'll win by default. If what you mean is that some people claiming to speak for the community, want other people who are members of that community not to be able to have vouchers, then I'm less than interested in your argument.

9) I don't want my tax dollars used to pay for religious education Waaaaaaah. The fundamentalist down the block doesn't want his tax dollars used to pay for teaching evolution. I don't want my tax dollars used for 97% of the things my tax dollars are used for; welcome to representative democracy. And in Catholic schools, where most of the vouchers would be used, the religious education is voluntary; lots of non-Catholic kids go there without being proselytized. If this bothers you that much, we can discuss requiring schools that accept vouchers to make religious education optional. But let's go back to why we're debating this policy in the first place: the kids. This is about the kids, right? And which is worse: that junior might hear, once a week, some sort of religious message which, to judge by the people I know who went to parochial school, has a fairly dim chance of sticking; or that junior won't be able to read and write and will spend the rest of his life moving heavy things from one place to another?

11) 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?
UPDATE: She crushes on nationalized healthcare, too. Megan is the Tom Brady of policy right now:

Andrew points to an article showing that 70,000 British people a year fly abroad to get basic life-saving procedures such as hip replacements, heart bypasses, and dentistry.

Ezra responds that 100,000 Americans go abroad for plastic surgery a year! And untold numbers more are going for non-cosmetic procedures. This would be a more devastating critique if

a) Britain were not one-fifth the size of America

b) we had hard figures on how many people in America were seeking procedures abroad that are normally provided in a timely manner by national health systems

Ezra also claims that Americans are creating the industry; Britons are just free riding. Beg pardon, but if Americans were going abroad en masse for dentistry, I'm pretty sure that Hungary wouldn't be their first destination.

But the weirdest thing is that he seems to think that low-cost free market care is an indictment of the free market. And yet, this subtly undercuts the argument that Ezra et al. consistently make: health care in Europe is cheaper than health care in America; health care in Europe is paid for by the government; ergo, if America had health care like Europe's, it would be cheaper.

Let me try my own version: privately provided health care in Bangkok is very, very cheap, much cheaper than publicly provided health care in Europe. Ergo, Europe should privatise health care.

The liberal instantly recognizes that this is ludicrous: cost structures in Europe are much different from cost structures in Bangkok. But the same is true of America and Europe.

Bangkok's doctors are so cheap because a doctor making a modest wage by British standards can have an enormous house and a flock of servants to take care of him, putting him in the very top echelon of Thai earners. Nurses too, can make an American pittance and still live very well. As Bangkok gets richer, the servants and the gigantic house will not be so affordable--and neither will the health care.

Likewise, America is richer than Europe; it therefore has to pay its doctors, nurses, etc. more. (A doctor in France makes about what a moderately experienced RN makes here.) Also, health systems held down wages in previous periods, which is much easier to do than inducing everyone to take a 75% pay cut now. If we did slash wages by that much, workers would exit the public system in droves, immediately destroying it. We literally cannot get there from here.

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