An Open Letter to Bill Bennett
by Milton Friedman, April 1990
Drugs are a tragedy for addicts. But criminalizing their use converts that tragedy into a disaster for society, for users and non-users alike. Our experience with the prohibition of drugs is a replay of our experience with the prohibition of alcoholic beverages.
Milton Friedman was one of the most influential economists of the past century and winner of a 1976 Nobel Prize. He always impressed me with the clarity of his thinking.
I think he was wrong about vouchers for education; the right answer imho is to eliminate ANY government involvement in education. Today, we have a terrible system that seems to be in place to allow politicians to feather their nest, reward their friends, provide lots of jobs for their friends, allow a union that makes further mischief, and DOES NOT deliver a good education.
Hands down, it’s insanity.
His call for vouchers, while better than what we have now, ignored the fundamental problem. When parents pay for their children’s education with their real money, then they will DEMAND the best education for their limited budget will allow. Parents will “motivate” their children to get the most from it. They’ll seek bargains and live with their decisions.
A free market in education exists in the technical computer world where it is a Wild West Show. No real government regulation and for the most part no government funding. Look at the various industry certification courses! That’s what education could be like if freed from the shackles of the government. Ever lower prices, ever increasing availability, and ever increasing quality. Innovation galore.
One can only hope that our delusion with government “public” education ends soon.