The Problem With Cutting Education

Bad Arguments Vol. 42


I recently attended a rally held at Queen’s Park in Ontario where teachers and general protesters gathered to oppose changes made by the provincial government regarding education. The changes involved the standard budget cuts you would expect to see when a conservative party takes over, but their changes also included large increases to the class sizes. This particular change results in the “loss” of thousands of jobs across the province and a poorer level of education for children.

The reason I put the loss in quotations is because of how our system works for their employment. What will happen is permanent teachers, which is to say full-time teachers with yearly classes of their own will end up moving down to the L.T.O. list (which covers lengthy on-call work). In turn from there, current L.T.O.s won’t be called on as seniority plays heavily into the system so most will end up stuck with single or partial day on calls at best.

You might be asking “The government spending less and having less full time staff sounds great, why would you, a libertarian, especially one that leans anarchist, be opposed?” Here is where we reach the bad argument.

A massive problem with these cuts, or many other service cuts in general, is that there is a lack of viable private options available in place of the state. Private options exist, but under the heavy scrutiny of the state, and, because of various roadblocks involved, at an exceptionally steep price well outside the average person’s range when our rising property costs, heavy taxes (which will go towards the current school system even if you take the private option), and general costs of living are too high for many. The average up here works out to between $6000-$12000 though in the cities can go as high as $18000-$35000. Simply put, these types of cuts cause damage as the market isn’t set up to, nor really capable, to adjust and fill the void.

Let’s look at, say, the police for a comparison. Yes, security agencies exist currently, but they aren’t capable of completely taking on the role currently, nor are they legally allowed to fully act as police can. Ignoring for a moment the issues with policing currently, the general role is something that in one form or another would be fulfilled without the state as with the private protection agencies arguments we’re all familiar with. To get rid of all forms of policing before empowering or allowing the market to adjust would lead nowhere positive. Similarly with education, to simply start heavily cutting back without first freeing up the market for private options to prosper will only lead to a generation being shorted an education, especially since cuts in spending rarely equates to cuts in taxes or costs of living.

Sure, in the end, I would like to see state education removed entirely (and the state with it), but I am neither an accelerationist nor a supporter of pushing the proverbial Rothbard Button. The push to make cuts to the government is something I can fully support, but to do so before freeing up the market to take on what the government shouldn’t have been involved in in the first place is to put the cart before the horse.

Free the market first, then remove the government’s involvement entirely. As libertarians, we should be aiming to improve the lives of ourselves and those around us by removing the government’s negative influence on us all. Let’s be better and do it the right way.

You can read more from Killian Hobbs on Think Liberty here.


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