It’s simple. When they inevitably do not work, I most definitely do not want that albatross hanging around the neck of voluntary exchange and free-markets. Not at all. And why would I say such a thing? Because instituting school vouchers to me is no different that giving people insurance subsidies in the health care sector today, and then watching to see what happens to outcomes 10 years from now and condemning markets for failing when that inevitably doesn’t work. We still have the AMA. We still have strange tax treatment of different insurance plans. We still have the influence of Medicare price controls. And so on.
And in the K12 education sector, the way current voucher experiments work is that they must typically be used at schools that meet the approval of some central committee. And a universal voucher system, while instituting a much needed dose of competition among schools, will inevitably be grafted onto the teacher union system, the grip of the ed schools, the accreditation system, the standardized content and curriculum and so forth. It would be nothing resembling what a reasonably free education system would look like, and reform at the payment side would not in my view do much to improve outcomes. In fact, the evidence on school vouchers (while not negative) does not suggest that moving to that system alone is going to massively improve educational outcomes for most students.
It is in this area of policy where I am perhaps most rigid in my views, contrary to other areas (such as how to do safety net programs). If there is ever a sector where 100% abolition of government were necessary, and of all competition choking institutions, it is this one. We’ll never see it of course. If pressed publicly if I supported the concept of school vouchers in theory I suppose I’d have to say yes. But that is no different than me saying that in theory I could support the building of an airplane that is immune from the laws of gravity.