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Archive for February 8th, 2013

I just finished up a trip to London.

In previous posts, I’ve expressed pessimism about the future of the United Kingdom, largely because all political parties have a statist mentality.

I criticized Gordon Brown, the former Labor Party Prime Minister, for being a compulsive redistributionist, big spender, and taxaholic.

But nothing’s really changed under Tory leadership. David Cameron is a vacuous statist, undermining the Conservative Party in the same way that George W. Bush eroded the brand name capital of the Republican Party.

This sign was on a train I rode today. It is sponsored by the UK version of the IRS,  and it pretty much symbolizes how the United Kingdom has turned into a predatory state.

UK Tax Orwell

The United Kingdom is in terrible fiscal shape. Government spending has reached record levels, and now consumes a larger share of economic output than the public sectors in failed welfare states such as Spain.

And what are taxpayers getting for their money, other than Orwellian signs?

Not much. They get an increasingly dysfunctional society filled with scroungers such as Natalija, Gina and Danny.

They also get a healthcare system that seemingly prides itself on maltreatment, and a tax system that is more designed to be punitive rather than to generate revenue.

Though the UK government does provide taxpayer-financed sex tours to Amsterdam, so at least a few people are getting screwed as a result of government rather than by the government.

But let’s close by contemplating the mindset of a government that would post such a sign. We already know that Prime Minister Cameron and some of his senior deputies think it’s wrong to engage in legal tax avoidance.

And this is a government that is brainwashing kids into becoming servile snitches, and is even considering a system that would have employers send paychecks to the state and then the government would decide how much to send to taxpayers.

Such a shame since so much of what is good in the Western World came from England.

P.S. This is also a country where they send innocent people to jail for shooting burglars.

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I’m a libertarian because I believe in individual freedom and greater prosperity, but what really motivates me is the desire to protect people from predatory government.

So even though the economist in me wants to reduce the burden of government spending and implement a flat tax because such policies will boost growth and lead to higher living standards, I also want those policies because I don’t like it when interest groups use the coercive power of government to obtain unearned wealth.

And what gets me most upset is when those special interests use their corrupt connections with the political elite to screw the poor. That’s why I despise policies such as corporate subsidiesbailouts and minimum wage laws.

So you’ll understand why I’m particularly upset that the government of India is now trying to undermine opportunity for the poor by shutting down private schools

Here are some of the odious details.

Heera Ballabh walks his youngest son, Pankaj, to school through two kilometres of narrow lanes. He hopes a good eduction will propel the boy out of the cramped lower-class neighbourhood they call home and into middle-class life. But this aspiration hangs in the balance because legislation will force the privately run school Pankaj attends to close as it does not meet the requirements stipulated by the government.

The Ballabh family is not unusual. Because the government schools do a terrible job, there are millions of poor families who are sacrificing to send their kids to private schools.

…Pankaj attends the Pioneer Public School. It is among 2,000 low-fee private schools in Delhi facing closure, threatening to displace more than 500,000 pupils, most of them in primary school. Across India, about 300,000 schools, with an estimated 15 million pupils, may have to close, said Shantanu Gupta, the associate director of the School Choice Campaign with the Centre for Civil Society, a non-profit research and educational organisation.

Apparently embarrassed by the fact that so many millions of poor families would rather pay for good private schools than go to free state institutions, the government is  trying to regulate the private schools out of existence.

…The criteria for private schools to remain open include meeting a minimum requirement for the size of its premises, higher teacher salaries, and government certification. Mr Ballabh would rather pay several hundred rupees a month out of his meagre salary as a private tutor to send his son to Pioneer than to a government school. Although there are no tuition fees at state schools and textbooks and lunches are free, teachers are often absent and there can be up to 80 students per class, he said. Studies published by the Centre for Civil Society showed that schools such as Pioneer perform better than government schools.

Not surprisingly, the government doesn’t want to judge private schools on the basis of performance.

…Mr Gupta said…”The requirements should be performance-based instead of looking at how much land is available to build a school,” …One of the states that has managed to bridge the gap between the requirements of the act and the realities on the ground is Gujarat, said Mr Gupta, where the land requirement was done away with and schools are judged on pupils’ performance.

I’ve previously identified some truly despicable people on this blog (Robert Murphy, Michael Wolfensohn, Olga Stefou and the British moocher mom). Well, I think Ashok Agarwal may beat them in the contest to be the worst person in the world. He’s the one who launched the attack against so-called unauthorised schools.

…there are those who say such schools must be forced to close if the education system is to be improved in India. “We have an act that clearly defines what a school is and that must be respected,” said Ashok Agarwal, a lawyer and an education activist who filed a public interest litigation in 2006 seeking the closure of unauthorised schools.

Mr. Agarwal admits that the government schools don’t work, but he thinks he should have the right to decide what is best for other people’s children. What a disgusting human being.

“We admit our education system has been derailed but we are trying to fix it, and if you are unhappy with how government schools are run then pressure the government to make changes but don’t put your children in substandard schools,” he said.

The same issues exist in the United States. Children from poor families often are in neighborhoods where the government schools are a dismal failure.

Leftists want to use this horrible performance as an excuse to throw more tax dollars into a failing system, but this amazing chart shows that huge increases in staff and money have not helped the system.

School choice is one of the best ways of giving poor kids an opportunity for a brighter future. But the teacher unions are opposed, largely because they want to protect their privileged status.

That’s reprehensible, but understandable. What’s unforgivable, though, is when politicians like Barack Obama and groups such as the NAACP side with the unions, putting political power ahead of progress and opportunity for kids.

Shame of people in the United States who put government before kids. And shame on people in India who also put the interests of the state before the interests of children.

P.S. Here’s a video explaining why school choice is better than a government-run monopoly.

P.P.S. Read here how Chile has achieved great results with school choice.

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