Education– especially public education versus private, or public education, the parlous state of– is all over the news again. How long will it be before some conservative will come out once again with the perennial classic, “well, you won’t solve the problems in public education just by throwing money at it“.
Money may be the root of all evil and all that, but unfortunately we often need it to achieve certain ends. It’s strange that in these ideologues’ world, the purchasing power of money is actually variable based on whether it’s spent by the wealthy elite or by the great unwashed. I call this new principle the purchasing-power-differential (ahem! Wow, that sounds impressive. I’ve spent too much time on Crooked Timber and Quiggin, and it’s given me Jargon Envy.)
Therefore, if I throw a lot of money at a private school by paying their astronomical fees, and the Federal government decides to give them even more money, this is not throwing money. this is totally defensible. And people such as the Associations of Independent Schools are always going into print to defend it. Oh, how they defend it.
If the money was spent fixing the public system, you see, that would be throwing money, but if it’s spent on the private system, it’s a prudent allocation of funds.
It’s all in the purchasing power differential.
Wealthy people fail consistently in applying this principle in just about every aspect of their lives. Can you imagine this conversation?
“Charles, that little beach house at Portsea is sweet, but so run down. It’s going to need a lot of rebuilding and redecorating, darling! Shall I ring the architect?”
“Nah, you know don’t solve the problem just by throwing money at it.”
“Don’t you think it’s time we updated the Beemer?”
“Darling, that would just be throwing money at the problem!”
“It’s time I paid young Phoenix’s fees for Scotch next term.”
“Look, you can’t solve Nix’s education by throwing money at it!”
“Possum, can you shove a wee bit into my credit card account this week? I need my outfits for the spring racing carnival.”
“Forget it! That’s just throwing…”
[Cross posted at Road to Surfdom]