The Other Vouchers
Aside from concerns about a breach in the wall of separation between church and state, the left has expressed two major objections to the creation of school voucher programs to fund primary and secondary education:
- A voucher system would weaken the public school system by diverting funding to private schools.
- Parents might, for ideological reasons, choose to send their children to schools which teach children the "wrong" things. The hypothetical "wrong things" are always some form of religious fundamentalism, generally either Christian or Islamic, depending on the audience to whom the argument is addressed.
These arguments have been addressed elsewhere by others, and I'm not going to repeat any of that. What I want to know is: Why is no one making these arguments against all the other voucher programs we already have? The government used to distribute food to the poor directly. Now it mostly just gives them vouchers called "food stamps." Consequently, our beloved government food distribution system has withered away to nothing, and people sometimes use food stamps to buy the "wrong" foods. Where's the outrage?
Ditto Medicare and Medicaid. They're medical voucher programs. There are a few people calling for total nationalization of the medical system, but as far as I can tell, the general sentiment on the American left seems to favor a Canadian-style system (public funding and private provision) rather than a UK-style system (public provision)---in other words, they want an expansion of our existing voucher programs. Why the inconsistency? Why is it so much more important that schools be operated by the government than that health care facilities be operated by the government?
And then we have universal vouchers, better known as cash transfers. Instead of sending out Social Security checks, why not just move everyone over the age of 65 into government-run retirement homes? We could even bring back the poorhouse for those not old enough for retirement but still unable to support themselves. It may sound a bit harsh, but itwe can't afford to continue siphoning money away from our public poorhouse system, nor will it do to have the poor spending their vouchers on lottery tickets and such.
So what's so special about schools, that these arguments don't apply to any of our other voucher programs?