(Guest post by Greg Forster)
The education blob has never been shy about demanding that we hand them money, with little to justify their demands beyond sheer bullying self-assertion. But this year has seen an especially outrageous spate of self-dealing activism in Oklahoma, as I write in my latest article for OCPA:
Perhaps there’s a rational case that Oklahoma should spend more on schools. If so, I haven’t run across it going through pages and pages of the blob’s invective. Their argument boils down to “we spend X amount and it’s too little! We need to spend more more more!”
A press corps with any self-respect or sense of professional responsibility would ask the blob questions like these: Why have previous increases in school budgets and teacher salaries failed to produce educational improvements? Why shouldn’t the new spending you demand be targeted to more specific, publicly identified needs instead of being allocated indiscriminately? How much spending—give us a dollar amount—would be enough to make you say spending is sufficient and any problems that persist are the responsibility of the schools?
Come for the fake Tocqueville quote; stay for the philosophical analysis of the role of self-interest in the American political order!
Like them, we need to be realistic about self-interest, but not cynical. Human nature is powerfully affected by self-interest, as the embarrassing spectacle of the Oklahoma blob shows. We need not be revolutionaries and try to make a brave new world where no such selfishness occurs; as Madison and Tocqueville both warned us, such utopianism is the quickest road to a pure dictatorship of the selfish. But democracy is nonetheless threatened by unrestrained selfishness, for the majority can in fact vote itself largesse.
As always, your comments – whether self-interested or not – are very welcome!