some time, but I think I’ve come to understand why so many people favor school
vouchers. I was hung up on the separation of church and state and worried about
decreased funding for inner- city schools. But I’ve seen the light. My only
question now is why vouchers are proposed only for schools.
thinking behind vouchers is obvious. Choice is good, and the market will lead to
overall improvement. People will get what they’re willing and able to pay for.
overdoing that feel-good, liberal community stuff for too long. We’re trying to
live like those weird Europeans, who in some countries actually pay the same
taxes and insurance premiums no matter where they live! When you share the
burdens of catastrophes like that, the people who experience losses do fine, but
those who don’t get penalized.
such silly sharing, you must rely on warped thinking, like "there, but for
the grace of God, go I." Real wimpy.
of those countries even provide health care to everybody, and a good, free
education — including college — to everybody who qualifies. It would just
lower us all if everybody got good education. Sure, we’d be a better educated
country, but we’d all suffer for it.
convinced. But I don’t see any reason to limit this great idea to education. Why
should I be paying for the fire department? I’ve never had a fire at my house.
I’m really careful about it. I’d prefer a fire voucher, so I can contract for
the service outside of government.
get a contract, but without a voucher, I’d be paying twice — you know, paying
my taxes and then paying again for the private service. The government should
send bills to people who use fire engines.
really lower taxes. Let’s include the library (want a book? pay a share of the
total costs for libraries), street maintenance (pay when your street is fixed)
and so on.
know why people without kids in school should pay taxes for education at all.
Taxes should be treated as a bill for the government services we want to buy
because they benefit us.
about the police? I live in a good neighborhood, and I pay for a home security
system, so why should I be footing the bill for those who are too cheap and then
get robbed? We should get police vouchers, or government should send folks a
bill for each use — maybe double the amount if it turns out there wasn’t
really an emergency.
Americans don’t need anything from government. Nor do we have any personal stake
in anybody else’s education, or well-being for that matter. This country would
be just fine if we return to values, and the top value is look out for yourself.
Don’t worry about others or the "community," whatever that is. The
market will take care of them.
is to fight those soppy sympathies that don’t really help anybody. Stop yourself
whenever you start thinking about others.
sound harsh, but it’s for our own good. We should treat everything, and maybe
everybody, as a commodity. You get what you pay for. This is the direction we’ve
been taking at least since President Reagan, who was so good at helping us
understand the intrinsic nobility of single-minded self-interest. Sure,
sometimes it seems like nothing holds us together as a nation, no common
understanding or goals or any sense that we’re in this together, rather than
just happening to inhabit the same area of the world. But freedom — not having
to answer to or care about anybody else — is so fulfilling.
sound ironic or just plain wrong to some, but selfishness and greed build
community well-being and raise the spirits of all. We need to stop thinking
about others and get back to consuming and praying.
Kairys, a law professor at Temple University, is the editor of the 1998
edition of "The Politics of Law." He wrote this for the Philadelphia
Inquirer, where it was published on July 15, 1999.