Once upon a time, some conservatives used to call for the abolition of the U. S. Department of Education. Lamentably, conservatives today celebrate when a ‘free-market advocate’ like multimillionaire Betsy DeVos is appointed U. S. Secretary of Education, and they get terribly excited when she speaks at conservative conferences.
Meanwhile, even while conservatives continue to pronounce their allegiance to their favorite mantra – ‘free enterprise, private property, limited government’ – they continue to embrace not only public schooling itself but also their favorite public-schooling fix-it program, school vouchers.
Over the years, conservatives have developed various labels for their voucher program: a ‘free-market approach to education,’ ‘free enterprise in education,’ or ‘school choice.’ They have chosen those labels to make themselves and their supporters feel good about supporting vouchers.
But the labeling has always been false and fraudulent. Vouchers are nothing more than a socialist program, no different in principle from public schooling itself.
The term ‘free enterprise’ means a system in which a private enterprise is free of government control or interference. That’s what distinguishes it from a socialist system, which connotes government control and interference with the enterprise.
This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on October 18, 2017.