School Choice Has No Impact. And Your Point Is..?

Steven D. Levitt writes about some of his cohorts whose studies indicate that sending kids to “better” schools doesn’t guarantee better results.

Part of the answer is likely that the definition of “better” is based on outputs, like how high the test scores are at the school or what fraction of its students attend good colleges. That sort of metric ignores the fact that “better” schools tend to attract “better” kids. These are kids with strong families and good academic backgrounds. So even if the school is not at all good at adding value, it will still have the best outputs, because it had the best inputs. If the school does not have high value added, there is no reason to expect that a child who transfers there will do better than she did at her previous school. Parents don’t have good information on the inputs to a school, only the outputs, so it is difficult for them to accurately assess value added.

If this is an argument against school choice, it is a weak one. Parents should be able to choose what school their kid attends not because of the expected outcome, but because he is their kid!

In thinking about the broader implications of this research, it is important to bear in mind that the school choice program that Julie and Brian analyze is just one kind of school choice (albeit the most common one), operating within a single public school system. It differs from voucher programs or school choice across school districts, and increased competition may be more effective in those settings.

It is a very slippery slope to decide policy based completely on the predicted outcome without regard for the rights of the individual to choose. Here’s why…

In Levitt’s conclusions in his book, Freakonomics, he contends that the drop in crime rate of the 1990s was a result of Roe vs Wade. Essentially, many would be criminals from difficult socio-economic backgrounds were never born, and therefore never grew up to be criminals two decades later.

Assuming this is true, would it be a valid policy to require all mothers in stressed economic conditions to have ablortions? Would we set a policy to kill all babies born into difficult socio-economic conditions in order to reduce the crime rate later on? Of course not.

No matter the expected outcome, it is wrong to violate the rights of the individual to choose, so long as the choice does no harm to anyone else.

Sorry, but where we send our kids to school is none of anyone else’s business. Period.

Loving The New Smoking Ban

[sarcasm]
Today is such a great day. This new smoking ban is absolutely amazing and has enriched my life in ways I never thought possible.

Water tastes sweeter, the air smells cleaner, and my wallet is fat the sun is shining bright, but not so bright that it is causing unnatural warming–that’s coming from somewhere else.

It’s not that I’ve changed my dining, shopping, or work habits that makes today so great. It’s the fact that thousands of businesses across our great state have been forced to bend to my personal wishes.

Finally, popular opinion has won out over individual property rights, and people no longer have the power to decide what types of otherwise legal activities they will allow on their own property. What a great day for individual liberty!!!

And how lucky are we that we no longer have the right responsibility to choose what business we want to patronize based on their smoking policy. The State made this decision for us. One less thing to worry about. What a relief!
[/sarcasm]

I have to ask again, how will this affect the number of DUI arrests?

No Apartment For You!

A San Antonio man feels he’s been discriminated against because an apartment complex didn’t want to rent to him based on the fact that he has lots of tattoos.

Frankel e-mailed us a statement saying his apartment complexes do, in fact, “reject prospective tenants who have… tattoos exposed on the neck, head, hands and wrists, or large tattoos that cover over 40% of the lower or upper arm.”

Frankel says, “We do not discriminate. The above applies to persons of any race, color, gender, etc.”

I have to side with the apartment complex on this one. Dude, you CHOSE to get ink up and down your arm. That was a market decision. If you don’t like it, go buy your own apartment building and require all applicants to have a sleeve of tattoos before you’ll rent to them.

Think that will work? Probably not–the market won’t support it.

If they were denying people based on the fact that they have large birthmarks it would be different, but c’mon.

The Carrillos were also upset that the manager refused to refund their full $70 application fee. But mostly, they feel the policy is discriminatory.

So give them their money back and let them dry their tears with the check.

Ahmadinejad’s Response to Columbia University

He said Bollinger’s comments included “insults” and false claims, and flew in the face of an environment that’s supposed to let people speak their minds.

This was Ahmadinejad’s response to the introduction given by Columbia University’s President, Lee Bollinger, where he also called Ahmadinejad a “petty, cruel dictator”.

Ahmadinejad is dead wrong, and his response shows exactly why it is ridiculous to try to build democracies constitutional republics in the Middle East where ideas of tolerance of opposing opinions and free speech can’t be comprehended. This is exactly what free speech is all about–I call you a lowdown dirty scoundrel and have facts to back up my claims. You then respond with a defense or retaliate with facts that show otherwise.

These ass clowns are under the illusion that they can come here and exploit our tolerance for free speech (they have no such tolerance) to get their message across without question. They have no inkling that it flows both ways. That’s why I don’t have a problem allowing him/them/anyone else I disagree with have their say.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again–the best way to confirm that someone is an idiot/jerk/ruthless dictator is to give them an opportunity to prove it in their own words.

Can’t wait to check out the entire video. I’ll be watching cnn.com for more info this afternoon.

Did Columbia University Trap Ahmadinejad?

I’m in wait and see mode on this one, but I’m a little surprised at what I just saw.

I’m at work and don’t have a chance to watch the coverage, but I just returned from getting a cup of coffee and got to catch a glimpse of Columbia’s President evidently ripping Ahmadinejad a new one on Iran’s violation of civil rights, free speech, etc. and challenging him to address them.

It will be interesting to see how this one pans out.

10,000 Reasons Not To Have More Money

I came upon this story by way of Reason. I’m no fan of the ACLU, mostly because they are very selective about which civil liberties they choose to defend, but I have to be cheering for them in this case, where a truck driver was forced to turn over $23,700 for no other reason than he had an amount of cash greater than $10,000. No drugs, no drug paraphernalia, no probable cause.

DEA agents told Prieto he would receive a notice of federal proceedings to permanently forfeit the money within 30 days and that to get it back, he’d have to prove it was his and did not come from illegal drug sales.

Wasn’t the whole issue of search and seizure addressed a while back? At least that’s what I remember from my learnin’ in public schools.

The lawsuit said Prieto does not like banks and customarily carries his savings as cash.

That’s great and all, but the fact is, he doesn’t have to explain it. According to the Houston Chronicle article, he was actually nice enough to tell the police that he had the money and give them permission to search his vehicle. He could just as easily refused to allow them to search without any probable cause. That’s what I would do.

“The government took Mr. Prieto’s money as surely as if he had been robbed on a street corner at night,” Simonson said. “In fact, being robbed might have been better. At least then the police would have treated him as the victim of a crime instead of as a perpetrator.”

The scary part is, I’ve transported over $10k in cash (obtained legally, btw) on at least two occasions. Good thing I didn’t have a break light out. I’ll definitely be watching my back if my dreams of winning a big poker tournament ever come to fruition. It would suck to have it confiscated before I was able to pay the outrageous taxes on my winnings.

Bueller? Bueller?

FladaBlog has an excellent post on public school socialism:

Let’s consider an island with one family with children and one childless couple. Does the family have a right to force the autonomous couple to contribute to the education of their children? Most rational people will agree that they do not have such a right. Additionally, the childless couple does not have the right to force the other family to let the couple dictate how the family’s children should be educated. Does adding another family with children change the underlying principle of rights? Again, most rational people will agree that it does not.

So the question is: at what number of families does it become moral to force the childless couples to pay for the education of the families’ children? At what number does society gain the right to force families to start allowing the society to educate their children? Is 100 the magic number? 1000? 1,000,000?

Anyone? Anyone?

Read it again, substituting “education” with “health care”.

Again, this time with “retirement”.

Again, this time with “cable television”.

Again, this time with “reduced rates for energy” (corporate welfare).

Again, this time with “watermelon”, or “hair brushes” or “tire guages” or “jock straps”.

Of course, we all have the right, and I believe responsibility, to choose to contribute at any time. The question is, at what point do others have the right to force us to contribute?

Happy Cost of Government Day!

Doug Mataconis points us to the report by Americans for Tax Reform that declares today the day of economic liberty in the United States. That’s right–beginning today, and every day for the rest of this year, every dollar you make actually belongs to you! This is very exciting. It’s a Festivus miracle!!!

It now only takes a little over half a year’s worth of work to pay your share of the bountiful gifts of government. Here are just a few examples of the wonderful things you have earned from your toils this year alone:

Failing education for all the kids in your neighborhood, whether you have any or not

A nation building project, err “war” that you probably don’t support

Housing for homeless alcoholics (offer good for Seattle residents only)

A fat pension for your former sheriff (Knox County residents only)

Substandard healthcare for wounded servicemen

A bankrupt government pension retirement fund–a.k.a. socialist security

Countless government subsidies for private industries–a.k.a. corporate welfare

Good job! I think you deserve a raise!!!

Mataconis:

The idea that Americans should have to work more than half the year to pay for the state should be offensive to anyone. Instead we all just seem to blindly accept it.

Smoking Bans — Legislation in the Nazi Tradition

I’m watching a program on the History Channel that documents the non-smoking laws/rules instituted by Hitler in the 1940s.  Apparently German scientists figured out that smoking was bad for you (duh?) about a decade before anyone else.  Hitler banned smoking in his presence, as well as on public properties.  There was also quiet a bit of propaganda against smoking.

The Nazi view was that a German’s body belonged to the State, and that polluting or abusing it was damaging public property.  Individual rights be damned.  I’m sure glad that kind of thing doesn’t happen here.

The American Experience — Alexander Hamilton

Last night I recorded this program on PBS.  It is a nice warm-up to the debates tonight.

I’ve often wondered what Thomas Jefferson would think about our current situation, but this program makes me wonder what Hamilton would think.  Hamilton pushed hard for a strong central government, but I wonder if he would have wanted it this strong.  Would he agree with the current “aristocracy” that is running our governement?

It’s not tyranny we desire; it’s a just, limited, federal government.

Is that what we have now?