Following up the last post — Conor Friedersdorf writes that libertarians are not all selfish jerks. “Countless libertarians are working to advance the freedom and fair-treatment of people other than themselves,” he says.
Some of his examples are, shall we say, suspect. For example, an article at Reason that calls for dismantling teacher’s unions presents itself as being pro-education, but it is really an argument for ditching public education in favor of voucher schools. And I think this exemplifies a big flaw in libertarianism, which is that whenever reality does not square with theory, reality is tossed out the window.
The article assumes that “widespread school choice” is the key to mending ailing public school systems. But real-world studies that are not conducted by right-wing think tanks show that “school choice” has no significant impact on the quality of public schools. Further, there is no evidence found by independent researchers that voucher students receive a better education than they would have had they remained in the public school. (See in particular “When Reality and Expectation Don’t Meet.”)
The right-wing think tanks frantically crank out “studies” that argue otherwise, but of course these institutions exist to fabricate data in favor of whatever their big-money benefactors want us to believe.
And this takes us back to what I was arguing yesterday — the “liberty” cherished by libertarians is a fig leaf for promoting the class interests of the mega-wealthy. What’s really behind “school choice” and the No Child Left Behind program is a private sector education industry that is attempting to siphon tax dollars away from public schools and into their own pockets.
It’s true that libertarians do stand with liberals on a number of issues, such as opposition to the expansion of the surveillance state. But as Digby points out, the article discussed yesterday about libertarian philosopher Robert Nozick was about libertarian economic philosophy. “So, using civil libertarianism to sell libertarian ideology, particularly in this case, is a misdirection,” Digby says. See also Jonathan Chait.