Education

The New York Times Gets Everything Wrong in This Article That Falsely Claims Economists Don't Like School Choice

The paper's editors wouldn't recognize economic thinking if they were bludgeoned to death by a supply and demand curve.

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Kid
Syda Productions

A recent New York Times story that slams the free market approach to education policy is rife with inaccuracies. Amazingly, the author of the piece misrepresents the very data she is using to build her erroneous case against school choice.

"Free Market for Education? Economists Generally Don't Buy It," claims Susan Dynarski, a professor of education, public policy, and economics at the University of Michigan, in The Times. This is a betrayal of expectations, according to Dynarski, because economists generally understand that free markets produce better outcomes than central planners (much to the chagrin of education professors). Economists are usually the ones calling for less regulation and more unrestricted capitalism; if they're super conflicted about markets in education, that would be a serious indictment of the school choice approach. Dynarski writes:

You might think that most economists agree with this overall approach, because economists generally like free markets. For example, over 90 percent of the members of the University of Chicago's panel of leading economists thought that ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft made consumers better off by providing competition for the highly regulated taxi industry.

But economists are far less optimistic about what an unfettered market can achieve in education. Only a third of economists on the Chicago panel agreed that students would be better off if they all had access to vouchers to use at any private (or public) school of their choice.

That does sound bad for school choice—it suggests that two-thirds of surveyed economists disagree that students with vouchers would be better off.

But Dynarski is applying spin. Here is the survey:

IGM Chicago
IGM Chicago

A chunk of economists—37 percent—couldn't say for sure whether vouches would improve educational outcomes. That's not so surprising: education reform is a complicated issue and economists are thorough, cautious people. Moreover, it's true that vouchers don't always make things better for every kid—providing more choices is not the same thing as magically reversing decades of poverty, racial inequality, and bad incentives.

But among economists who did take a position on the issue, school vouchers were a big winner. As Slate Star Codex explains:

36% of economists agree that vouchers would improve education, compared to 19% who disagree. The rest are unsure or didn't answer the question. The picture looks about the same when weighted by the economists' confidence.

A more accurate way to summarize this graph is "About twice as many economists believe a voucher system would improve education as believe that it wouldn't."

By leaving it at "only a third of economists support vouchers", the article implies that there is an economic consensus against the policy. Heck, it more than implies it – its title is "Free Market For Education: Economists Generally Don't Buy It". But its own source suggests that, of economists who have an opinion, a large majority are pro-voucher.

(note also that the options are only "agree that vouchers will improve education" and "disagree that vouchers will improve education", so that it's unclear from the data if any dissenting economists agree with the Times' position that vouchers will make things worse. They might just think that things would stay the same.)

I think this is really poor journalistic practice and implies the opinion of the nation's economists to be the opposite of what it really is. I hope the Times prints a correction.

I would also note that I read through most of the surveyed economists' comments, and it seems pretty clear that those who were "uncertain" did think school vouchers would improve outcomes for a lot of kids; they just thought it was hard to quantify the overall effect. "I think the majority of public school students would be better off, but certainly not all," wrote one economist. "The question is ambiguous about the percent." You can judge for yourself whether the responses should be further weighted toward the pro-voucher position.

But that's not even everything that's wrong with the article. Having smeared school choice as something the Trump administration will push despite the learned skepticism of "economists generally," Dynarski then goes on to point out a number other policy issues where the consensus is against the free market:

While economists are trained about the value of free markets, they are also trained to spot when markets can't work alone and government intervention is required.

A classic example is pollution. Factories and cars that spew toxins ruin the air for everyone. Pollution is what economists call a "negative externality": Drivers get the benefits of the gas they burn when they drive to work, but everyone else gets the bad emissions. Economists recommend governments use taxes and regulations to minimize this negative externality.

In most markets, in fact, economists advocate striking a balance between free competition and regulation. While they vary considerably in where they would strike that balance, it's unusual for an economist to claim that private markets can serve every need without any government intervention at all.

At this point I'm not sure readers should trust Dynarski's impression of what economists think—and in fact, there are plenty of economists who say markets and property rights would reduce all sorts of environmental problems—but let's assume she's right: Economists agree that there are some things the free market just can't handle on its own.*

Earlier, Dynarski associated the free market position with school vouchers. Now she is saying that the free market position is "private markets can serve every need without any government intervention at all." That's an incredible contradiction. Dynarski, I suppose, wants her readers to believe that school vouchers are an anarcho-capitalist delusion that would gut public education and leave children to become feral and illiterate. In reality, school vouchers represent exactly the sort of "balance between free market competition and regulation" that economists support. Under a voucher system, education is still publicly funded. Many schools are still run by the government. Those that are not explicitly run by the government are still subjected to considerable regulation.

Dynarski is making the case that smart, reasonable people support market competition as long as it's accompanied by significant government intervention. Dynarski is also, for some reason, making the case against school vouchers—even though vouchers are the perfect example of the kind of thing she claims is smart and reasonable.

Supporters of school choice are not extremists. They do not want to destroy public funding for education, or leave children to fend for themselves. They have merely observed that a specific model—forcing kids to attend a specific school that comports with the zip code assigned to them at birth—is inefficient, immoral, and prone to abuse. There has been too much top-down government management, and not enough competition, in the American education system. Reforms, like the voucher system, are a necessary corrective. They provide balance between government and privatization.

If you're against this kind of thing, it's your own views that are squarely at odds with most economists.

But wait, there's more. Dynarski doesn't stop there—the rest of the article stakes out a ludicrous position on the college loan crisis:

Excessive faith in the power of free markets can lead to infeasible policy proposals. The Republican platform recommends expanding the role of private banks in student loans, with the goal of enhancing financing choices for students. But making student loans a competitive, private-sector market is an unattainable goal. In economics textbooks, student loans are the example used to show there are some products that markets will never provide on their own.

In a classic business deal, an entrepreneur puts up collateral to get a loan for a potentially profitable investment. But a teenager can't walk into a private bank and receive a loan for tens of thousands of dollars based solely on her academic promise, even though a college education is (on average) an extremely lucrative investment.

This is a capital-market failure: Private lenders won't provide liquidity for profitable investments. Because of this failure of private markets, across the world it is governments that provide student loans.

That's right: The government provides student loans. How's that working out for everybody? Oh, I forgot.

Lest we forget, government subsidization of student loans is a direct cause of skyrocketing tuition rates, for reasons even a professor of education could understand. If the government promises to help students pay the cost on the front end—no matter how extravagant it is—colleges have every incentive to jack up the price: the government has already guaranteed that the money will be paid.

Dynarski may be correct that the private market will never supply workable college loans. If that's the case, I tend to suspect it's because college is over-valued and discerning investors don't see it as such a smart bet. Too many students would take the money, enroll in college, and then decide to become education professors—misrepresenting statistics for The New York Times for a living.

*Edit: Initially, this paragraph was accidentally placed in block-quotes, but it is not part of The New York Times article.

Updated at 3:00 p.m.: The Cato Institute's Jason Bedrick points out another of Dyanrski's considerable faults—she actually ignored more recent survey data that further undercuts her claims:

Oddly, Dynarski did not include the results from the more recent 2012 IGM survey, in which the level of support for school choice was higher (44%) and opposition was lower (5%), a nearly 9:1 ratio of support to opposition. When weighted for confidence, 54% thought school choice was beneficial only 6% disagreed…

We should give Professor Dynarski the benefit of the doubt and assume that she didn't know about the more recent results (though they pop right up on Google and the IGM search feature), but the NYT deserves no such benefit for its continuing pattern of misleading readers about the evidence for school choice.

This seems more and more like willful misrepresentation of inconvenient facts.

NEXT: Anti-gun-control presentation on high school student's flash drive leads to psychological exam, litigation

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  1. “Amazingly, the author of the piece misrepresents the very data she is using to build her erroneous case against school choice.”

    Amazingly? Apparently you aren’t familiar with the history of this rag. This is completely expected. Just wait, it gets better. Lets see what kind of pinko horseshit they are printing a year from now.

    1. Same paper that kept talking about ‘peak oil’ and ‘we can’t drill our way to oil independence.’

      1. Same paper that tried to cover for Stalin’s Holomodor. I hope Walter Durante is rotting in hell.

        1. Walter Durante is ‘living’ in a prosperous city full of happy people who pay him no attention whatsoever. Attention is, after all, the Progressive Intellectual’s heroin; deny it to them and they go through hellish withdrawel.

    2. Some people are easily amazed.

    3. Obviously Professor Dynarski’s article was hacked by the nefarious Rooskis.

  2. You had me at “The NY Times Gets Everything Wrong in This Article.”

    1. Yes, could have saved us time and just thrown in the “…” and we could have moved on, but NOOOO….. 😉

    2. You had me at “The New York Times Gets Everything Wrong”

  3. Isaiah. if you, thought Sheila`s artlclee is unimaginable, on saturday I got Citro?n DS since getting a cheque for $7153 this-last/five weeks and just over $10 thousand last-munth. with-out a doubt this is the most comfortable work Ive ever had. I began this 6 months ago and pretty much straight away began to bring home minimum $70 p/h. why not look here

    ????????????????????????????????> http://www.homejobs7.com

    1. “Citroen”? “Cheque”? Sorry, Isaiah, but you missed the French thread down below under Brickbat.*

      *wait a second, “Isaiah”. Where are you originally from, anyway?

    2. “All flesh is grass”
      Isaiah 40:6

      Smoke a friend today.

    3. I read that link as http://www.handjobs.com

      1. Now that’s a jobs program! Pumping the levers of the economy!

  4. The paper’s editors wouldn’t recognize economic thinking if they were bludgeoned to death by a supply and demand curve.

    Well, duh. They’d be dead!

      1. If you don’t stick to puns this year while doling out your narrowed gazes, you are going to be one busy man.

        1. Yeah, I am going to be worn out by February.

          1. The truth is that Switzy’s gaze is normally narrowed. It’s only through force of will that it appears unnarrowed much of the time.

            1. Wait, he’s chinese?

              1. He’s Loatian, it’s a landlocked country.

          2. My response to that comment was the same as it usually is to things your gaze gets narrowed at (a couple seconds of mild confusion, and then a snort)

  5. Lifetime of “public service” good; profit-seeking capitalism bad. Right, Robby?

  6. I read the article yesterday. Incoherent nonsense through and through.

  7. I’m shocked, shocked to find that fake news is going on at the NY Times

    1. This is looking to be a top theme of 2017.

      The NYT and WaPo have breathed life into the idea of a fake news epidemic, to explain their butthurt and demonize their competition; this idea will now swiftly turn on them when, week after week, their own reporting can easily shown to not live up to any reasonable standard of accuracy or due diligence and hasn’t for years, if it ever did. Unintended consequences FTW.

      1. But we have been assured by Top Men the NYT and WaPo are purveyors of the one and only truth. You can’t possibly be right.

        1. That’s correct – if the WaPo and NYT were inaccurate, don’t you think that would have been covered in the NYT and WaPo? QED.

          1. +1 I laughed

      2. Folks could be “fake news” for Halloween.

  8. I was trying to find a piece I read a while back where some educrat was detailing how (IIRC) Detroit’s charter schools were really only marginally better than the public school system and hence a failure. One problem with the piece was that it didn’t mention the charter schools operate on about 70% of the per-pupil funding of the public schools. Another was that the charter schools had a much tighter spread of student achievement so a random charter school was much more likely to be “average” than a random public school, all of the very worst schools were public schools. I suspect most parents given the option would play it safe and send their kids to a school with a very high chance of being about average rather than gamble and send them to one which might be very good or might be very bad.

    1. To your point, most of the high achieving public schools are likely in very good neighborhoods. To my understanding, charter schools tend to exist in lower income neighborhoods, likely in conjunction with the “very worst schools”. If that’s the case, bring about average for charter schools is actually a huge improvement over the alternative for those students.

  9. “for reasons even a professor of education could understand”

    “Too many students would take the money, enroll in college, and then decide to become an education professors?misrepresenting statistics for The New York Times for a living.”

    Robby comes out swinging in 2017!

    1. Very nice but when one is making fun of someone else’s intellect, it is best to
      not make a grammatical error (or typo). Robby, remove the word “an” to keep
      it plural or remove the “s” at the end if you want it singular. Don’t want to give
      the NYT any fodder.

      1. “an” is singular and “a” is plural? But no one ’round here even speaks like that! Good lord what have I become…
        Thanks Public School!

    1. GOVERNMENT HOLIDAY

      1. The multinational corporation I work for is closed today too.

        1. If you don’t need two days to recover from NYE you didn’t do it right anyway. For obvious productivity reasons it makes sense to burn a company holiday instead.

        2. wait. your evil corporation gives the children time off in the monocle factory?

          1. Even we have hearts, plus all the machinery was down for annual inspections, can’t have the regulators seeing all the scamps running about.

  10. a college education is (on average) an extremely lucrative investment

    I’d like to see some real figures on this. It seems to me a college degree is often just a credential indicating that a particular person is capable of a certain amount of self-motivation and gumption and stick-to-itiveness and delayed gratification that are the hallmarks of a good worker. It’s not the education itself that’s valuable, a one- or two-year apprenticeship would provide much more valuable OJT, it’s just that the prospective employer can sift through applicants to filter for those more likely to succeed by finding those who have already demonstrated the ability to complete a four-year project.

    1. Who would you rather hire, a 23-year old fresh out of college or a 23-year old who opened his own restaurant at age 19 and ran it successfully for 4 years?

      1. You would only have the opportunity to hire one of those.

        1. You’re onto something here….

      2. Hell, I’d rather hire a twenty-three year old who ran said restaurant into the ground. He probably learned a lot.

      3. Who would you rather hire, a 23-year old fresh out of college with $150,000 in student debt and a doctorate in early Paiute basket weaving or a 23-year old who opened his own restaurant at age 19 and ran it successfully for 4 years?

        1. I guess it depends on what I’m hiring him to do.

    2. College-as-signalling and college-as-a-valuable-investment are not mutually exclusive (at the individual level), but it does suggest that trying to send an ever higher percentage of people to college is counterproductive.

    3. The problem is that most employers still want a college degree, since they’re also convinced that college makes one an inherently better worker.

      Any ideas on how to remedy this situation?

      1. Have you seen some of the snowflakes colleges are turning out now? I think it will fix itself in time.

    4. It seems to me a college degree is often just a credential indicating that a particular person is capable of a certain amount of self-motivation and gumption and stick-to-itiveness and delayed gratification that are the hallmarks of a good worker.

      Not just you. Michael Spence won his Econ Nobel in large part because of his 1973 article on how college degrees are mostly about signalling in the job market (and the more expensive the degree, the ‘clearer’ the signal).

  11. a college education is (on average) an extremely lucrative investment

    Can we just drive a stake through the heart of this ridiculous assertion?

    1. It’s not false, but very misleading, the “on average” part is pretty meaningless when you put 10-20% annual yields, as well as negative ones, in the same bucket.

      1. My school is #2. Suck it Harvard.

    2. Two words concerning the popular fetish for college “education”: cargo cult.

      Five more words: post hoc ergo prompter hoc.

      Two more words: diminishing returns.

      I don’t think education professors grasp those concepts any better than they can interpret an opinion survey.

      1. Man that’s narrow!

  12. Bah! only chumps check their tags.

    Who would you rather hire, a 23-year old fresh out of college or a 23-year old who opened his own restaurant at age 19 and ran it successfully for 4 years?

    I’d rather hire somebody who was a Congressional page and then interned at the Center for American Progress. You know; a saintly know-it-all who’s mobbed up.

  13. OT: Dog attacks owners after they tried to put sweater on him

    Police said Brenda Guerrero, 52, tried to put a sweater on the dog when it attacked. Her husband, 46-year-old Ismael Guerrero, attempted to pull the dog off his wife when the dog began attacking him.

    1. A pitbull named Scarface. He took a stabbing, a taser, a bean bag gun, and then another taser. I’d say he was appropriately named.

    2. Nowhere in the report do we learn whether the dog objected to the look or the fit. FAKE NEWS.

  14. In a classic business deal, an entrepreneur puts up collateral to get a loan for a potentially profitable investment. But a teenager can’t walk into a private bank and receive a loan for tens of thousands of dollars based solely on her academic promise.

    And maybe there is a reason for that.

    1. Don’t fucking get me started on social security. I hate how it is never portrayed as it really is. It’s a freaking wealth transfer (which is always wrong) from the poorest segment of the population to the richest. Then I get stupid comments from old people about the stuff I buy at the store. Gee, maybe I could afford healthier choices if I had more fucking money every month that you are taking from me.

      1. I’m actually okay with servicing existing obligations on SS as long as we could kill that shit ass program right now and a cut in the corporate income tax happens concurrently. It’s a festering quagmire that needs to die along with federal student loans.

    2. SS is totally solvent. To quote a smarmy as fuck bumper sticker: Got Social Security? Thank a Democrat.

      1. If only Democrats paid into b social security.

        1. Don’t you dare. Tom Steyer caps[citation needed] his contribution up to $100k every year!

  15. needs a copy edit:

    But that’s not even everything that’s wrong with the article. Having smeared school choice as something the Trump administration will push despite the learned skepticism of “economists generally,” Dynarski then goes on to point out a number other policy issues where the consensus is against the free market:

    While economists are trained about the value of free markets, they are also trained to spot when markets can’t work alone and government intervention is required.That’s not even everything that’s wrong with the article. Having smeared school choice as something the Trump administration will push despite the learned skepticism of “economists generally,” Dynarski then goes on to point out a number other policy issues where the consensus is against the free market.

  16. What? The NYT wrong? Again? Still?
    I thought this was a news site . . . . . . . .

  17. So, like Hillary and her e-mail explanations, the NYT is either lying or incompetent.

    I used to just assume ‘lying’, but everyday I hear such insane shit that I’m starting to think they can look at that graph and believe their conclusion.

    Case in point: Last week at work was a derpfest of WWIII and the Russians hacked the election. At one point I ended up cornered in the break room by one of the crazey eyez hack people, and the following conversation place:

    Me: What is it exactly that you think the Russians actually did?
    CEHP: THEY HACKED THE ELECTION 111!!!!!
    Me: Right, but how? What did they do?
    CEHP: ITS ALL OVER THE NEWS THEY HACKED THE ELECTION!!!!!!1111111
    Me: When you say “hacked”, are you saying that they got into the voting machines and changed the results?
    CEHP: Um, I guess? Look I’m not a computer guy I don’t know how they did it. What’s your point?
    Me: I’m just trying to get some coffee and you’re going on about Russian hacking, so I was just trying to learn how they did it. If you find out, let me know.

    1. THEYZ DID IT BY FLOURIDATIN’ THE WATER!!!

      1. OUR PRECIOUS BODILY FLUIDS!

      2. +CRM114

      3. POE

    2. I know what you mean, hard to tell the difference. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s incompetence at thinking — they jump to the conclusion by feelz, then look backwards and try to make up arguments to justify the conclusion. *Any* idea or argument or discussion that diverges from either the fake path or the arbitrary end is just ignored.

      They are emotional cripples, like that video posted yesterday where the protester was tapping a cop’s helmet with a long thin balloon, and he knocked it out of her hand — she balled up and was sobbing like a baby. When you are that emotional, there’s no room for thinking.

      1. they jump to the conclusion by feelz, then look backwards and try to make up arguments to justify the conclusion.

        The word is “rationalization”.

    3. So, like Hillary and her e-mail explanations, the NYT is either lying or incompetent.

      Why can’t it be both?

    4. There are some folks out there saying that THE RUSSIANS HACKED THE ELECTION smacks of McCarthyism.

      I’m here to tell you that they are wrong. There really were quite a few Soviet agents in senior government positions when McCarthy was doing his thing. Senator McCarthy and HUAC (a completely separate House committee) freaked out when they saw what was really going on. Their reactions to real news went over the top, but they were in response to real news.

      THE RUSSIANS HACKED THE ELECTION and THE RUSSIANS HACKED THE VERMONT ELECTRIC GRID IN THE MIDDLE OF WINTER are just made-up fake news.

  18. Many of the topics Reason covers can be argued from the other side, even if dishonestly. School choice is just a no-brainer, though. People (and I use the term loosely) that argue against it are at best delusional, and more often, pure evil. Dynarski lands in the latter category. Fuck her.

    1. But you’re falling into the very trap yourself. Life is complicated. All isn’t obvious. The very use of that word “obvious” should put up a red flag warning us. The earth used to be obviously flat.

  19. “All the news that fits, printed.” – Dr. Petr Beckmann

  20. Too many students would take the money, enroll in college, and then decide to become an education professors?misrepresenting statistics for The New York Times for a living.

    It’s a scam, I tell ya.

  21. How about a taste of Portland derp, from the (closed after 47) comments:

    Alex McN Portland, Or 1 day ago
    Private enterprises are profit making firms that charge as much as possible and incur as few expenses as possible. Public operations are discretionary expense centers that seek to maximize the budget available. Profit, big executive salaries, lobbyist contributions do not improve the students education.

    9Recommend

    1. I can’t stop laughing at this. This guy has to be either a teacher or DMV worker.

      1. Why cant he be both?

    2. This guy’s understanding of economics is astounding! Put that man in as chair of the economic council of advisers.

    3. Private enterprises are profit making firms…

      BZZZZT! No, Alex, that’s inaccurate. Some private enterprises, ie Exxon, are for-profit corpotations. Others, such as the Red Cross, Goodwill, your local on food bank, YMCA, YWCA, etc, etc are non-profit.

      Church schools are generally non-profit. Many private schools are non-profits. But Alex and his fellow progs know this; it’s the slow dismantling of government which they most fear.

  22. The article also neglects to mention alternatives besides vouchers. There are many. Some of us object to vouchers because they would tend to lead to government corruption of private schools ? he who pays the piper calls the tune. The tax credits that Ayn Rand advocated would be superior. A version is now in place in Nevada.

  23. Hillary promised ‘debt free’ college education for all. In fact, this was one of the reasons she lost – people don’t actually want free stuff even if they cheer for it at rallies. The reason is that if you give people free stuff they will squander it. Meaning, college would turn into a very expensive, subsidized, glorified high school. Where students are given every reason to believe they are succeeded while learning nothing. (Which is a large part of why we voted for Trump – trying to protect the country’s future.)

    “Gosh, AM, sometimes you say things that makes sense.” You can do it:

    1. Meaning, college would turn into a very expensive, subsidized, glorified high school.

      It already largely is at the undergraduate level, which have basically turned into grades 13-16. Unless you’re in an honors program or graduate school, there’s not a lot of academic rigor in universities these days.

      It’s really an effect of scale and supply/demand–American society started pushing as many people as they could into college under the pretense that a degree was the only catalyst to a happy life of economic ease. They increasingly lowered their standards to admit people who had no business being in college, to the point that a lot of incoming freshmen can barely read or do math at a 4th-grade level, much less an 8th or 12th grade level. To take care of the increasing supply of students, they hire minimally-paid part-time adjuncts whose dedication to teaching is mixed, at best, and a whole admin class of resentful progressive shit-tier mandarins.

      And that doesn’t even take into account the for-profit degree mills that are largely considered a joke in the real world, which sprung from the same distorted demand to get everyone a college diploma. Until our society gets rid of this idea that a college degree is necessary for a happy life, we’re going to continue to have to deal with an increasingly dysfunctional college education system.

      1. It would help if Congress (and the states) passed laws saying it’s NOT RACIST to have employment skills tests when you’re hiring non-college graduates unless it can be proven that (a) the company administering the test has subjectively racist motives or (b) the test itself was designed for subjectively racist motives.

        If we can reassure companies that employment skills tests are legal, they might not have to call for a college degree as a proxy for what they dare not measure via these tests. But if such tests are considered racist if they produce “wrong” statistical results for reason beyond the companies’ control, they’re going to go with requiring a college degree.

      2. People would be happier, I think, if they understood that true knowledge and education are the goods, and that schools and colleges are merely means to achieve those goods. The conflation of means and ends leads to all sorts of errors.

        Schools and colleges are only beneficial to the extent that they accomplish the ends of true knowledge and education. Much of what they actually do in fact has very little to do with those ends.

    2. “Gosh, AM, sometimes you say things that makes sense.”

      What’s the catch?

  24. Don’t fucking get me started on social security. I hate how it is never portrayed as it really is

    Calling it the “Ponzi Tax” just doesn’t give people the warm fuzzies.

    1. I know you ment this for me. Yeah Bernie Madoff=worst person ever, Bernie Sanders = great Messiah, even though he is in favor of a much larger Ponzi scheme that Madoff.

      1. True.

        At least with a Ponzi scheme, the victim could cut their losses and leave the whole mess as soon as they perceived that it was a ripoff. You can’t do that with Social “Security”. You’re forced to ride it out all the way to the bitter end.

        Hell, I’d let the Social Security Administration KEEP the money I’ve paid in so far and forego any future entitlements if I could just be free of that tax for the rest of my life.

        Also… You know who else used the initials “SS”?

        1. Sam Spade?

    2. Oh come on. In a Ponzi scheme, the runner of the scheme does not tell the “investors” that their money is not being invested, only used to pay off previous investors. On the contrary, anybody who wants to know how Social Security works can look it up online or at their local library, and there it will be in black and white.

      Of course, most people DON’T care how it works, but the willful ignorance of the American people does not render them victims.

      1. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a Ponzi. It’s unfortunate that most people don’t stop and think, but neither do they for aPonzi.

  25. We already have school choice, if you have money. It’s really pretty cute to pretend that some high school in an urban shithole is the same as a public school in a well-heeled suburb.

    1. It’s weird – you’d think that Lefties would support something that provides a chance for inner-city children to get into a better school, seeing as how the government-run schools in those districts have failed disastrously while consuming shitloads of taxpayer money.

      1. Being part of the public education system in this country really does require that you drink their Kool aide. Both my parents were teachers, and intelligent people by most standards (Dad even leans libertarian), but don’t ever talk to them about charter school or any form of school choice. It’s like a switch flips in their head and they lose all control of their faculties. Very strange.

        1. I’ve observed that at the prison, too. A lot of staff are perfectly reasonable people (many with libertarian leanings). But if you mention the idea that people shouldn’t be forced to join the union (AFSCME and SEIU) then they’ll suddenly get red in the face and start foaming at the mouth.

          I’m a contractor, so I’m neither required nor allowed to join the union. But I feel like I have to be very careful what I say on that subject. I’ve heard stories about officers at other prisons who get pissed off at another staff member, and while that staff member is in the cell block, they’ll “forget” to lock the cell where a very dangerous inmate is housed. I work at a women’s prison and I don’t spend much time around the cell blocks, so that scenario isn’t likely to play out against me… But I don’t doubt that I’d be the subject of much ostracizing if I got too vocal about my beliefs on public sector unions.

    2. “We already have school choice, if you have money.”

      We already have good public schools, if you have money.

  26. Supposedly, Harry Truman once asked for a one-handed economist who wouldn’t always be saying “on the one hand…but on the other hand.”

    The poll question could be interpreted to mean that respondents were being asked if vouchers helped *all* students.

    Such a blunt phrasing would not appeal to a two-handed economist. There are going to be kids who do as badly at a voucher school as at the government school to which they were assigned. There may even be kids who do worse (maybe because Mom and Dad want to take the kid out of a high-performing govt school into Athletic Star Academy).

    But if you did a betting pool, people in Las Vegas would probably bet on a voucher system helping out any given student.

  27. Of course as Robby points out, this article is classic bait and switch.

    From a discussion of vouchers – a mixed private/public program which is similar in some ways to what they do in the Western European utopias – the author goes to bashing a straw man of total government noninvolvement.

    1. “Western European utopias” was /sarc

  28. The one result of this study that I find truly shocking is that 37% of the participants (all academics) were willing to admit that they were uncertain about something.

    1. 37% of economists are married to a lefty.

      1. 37% of economists are married to a lefty.

        From the poll results, I’d say it’s closer to 58%….

  29. ho ho. So the MSM can write ‘fake news!’ who’d have thunk :p

  30. A chunk of economists?37 percent?couldn’t say for sure whether vouche[r]s would improve educational outcomes.

    37% of economists ignore the power of incentives. Even if some parents decide to send their kids to the same public schools, the fact that parents have a choice provides them with an incentive to involve themselves more in their kids’ education and provides a competitive threat to public schools which is incentive to make some improvements. The result can only be improved educational outcomes.

    That doesn’t mean vouchers are the better solution because government will still retain control over where the money can be spent and how, but that does not mean the outcomes cannot be predicted.

    1. They might improve educational outcomes for the kids who go to the charter schools — they certainly do not improve educational outcomes for the ones left in the public schools. The kids who make it in to charter schools are likely to cost less to educate than the kids who can’t, meaning the public schools get stuck with not nearly enough money to educate the students left behind.

  31. Education is a bigger problem than economists can handle. Neither all public schools nor all charter schools are the solution. Something in between would work, but government has to be involved.

  32. Follow the money: in a free market, competitive school system, how many people would enroll in schools of education or get graduate degrees in education?

    This credential only exists to allow one to climb the bureaucracy of state schools, either to become an administrator or superintendent or to be a consultant, grants writer, or lobbyist.

    1. “This credential only exists to allow one to climb the bureaucracy of state schools, either to become an administrator or superintendent or to be a consultant, grants writer, or lobbyist.”

      That’s where the incentives lie. It certainly isn’t in teaching.

  33. Supporters of school choice are not extremists. They do not want to destroy public funding for education

    Speak for yourself.

  34. “The paper’s editors wouldn’t recognize economic thinking if they were bludgeoned to death by a supply and demand curve.”

    “Cotton’s idea that a flood of immigrant labor is to blame for depressed low-skill wages is just flaky”

    There should be some cognitive dissonance here, but you can’t expect logical consistency from any quarter.

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  36. LOL, no Robby, what you did was spin. The article, especially your part where you picked on to highlight spin was…spin.

    The comparison is not between those who favored school choice vs those who did not.

    The comparison was between the same economists’ views comparing ride-hailing services vs. vouchers. In other words, Dynarski held the opinion panel the same and viewed two different free markets.

    One scored 90% and the other 36%.

    Which is what led to economists are far less optimistic about what an unfettered market can achieve in education.

    Robby goes on to say But its own source suggests that, of economists who have an opinion, a large majority are pro-voucher.

    Economists who say they are uncertain also have an opinion. You can tell because there is a group teetering at the right which says no opinion. Everything else, is, opinion.

    Uncertain, which is a plurality means that they cannot pick whether the free market will work well for education, because neither the pluses nor the minuses were enough to tilt it for them. The group had picked ride-sharing at 90%.

  37. NYT? Am I mistaken or is this the same outfit that pays Paul Krugman a good salary for his “insights”. I have honestly heard much more insightful economics lectures from guys drinking around a burn barrel under an overpass in Portland. Which is where I imagine Krugnuts would be in a world without the generous patronage of outfits like this. Probably engaging in drunken debates with cats when he wasn’t being angrily chased from the fire by his betters with re-bar clubs and broken bottles. After all, even the homeless have limits on what they will tolerate.

  38. Professor of education, there’s your first problem.

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  40. i think someone’s a little jealous that they didn’t their PhD from “The” University of Michigan also.

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  43. Hang on a moment. Economists have been also working on the assumption that exponential growth will continue indefinitely. Well, they have until last week, but now we’re told by the Chief Economist at the Bank of England it’s a science that’s in “crisis”. It’s not in crisis to those that think we’re slipping down the wrong side of a Hubbert Hump, people like Robert J Gordon and Fred Harrison.

    They have also chosen the last 250 years as an example of the timescales they are considering. Funnily enough, there are other options to pick and from people with a convincing history of being right, a successful track record, and the overwhelming factual evidence says that the systems we use today are 13,000 years in the making, from when we started farming.

    Anyone chosing to argue this second point is ill educated at the very least, or crassly ignorant of the facts. I’d suggest they read Jared Diamond’s thesis “The worst mistake in the history of the human race” which will really hack them off, however, this is what is now taken as a given in fields other than economics.

  44. Ladies and Gentlemen, the paper of record.
    The record is a scratchy, off-key rendition of “The Internationale”.

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