Profligacy for Austerity?

Bryan Caplan:

Suppose you strongly desire to drastically increase the amount of education that people consume.  What should you do?

The obvious answer: Make education completely free of charge – and have the government pay the the entire cost.

I say this obvious answer is obviously right.  As I explain in The Case Against Education, I favor extreme educational austerity, because I think the education system is a waste of time and money.  Nevertheless, given the goal of drastically increasing educational attainment, completely shifting the cost burden from consumers to taxpayers is highly effective.

Yes, there is some “crowding out” – when the U.S. government spends an extra billion dollars on education, consumption of education probably rises by less than a billion dollars.  Still, total U.S. consumption of education has ultimately increased by trillions of dollars as a result of past government subsidies.

This seems undeniable, but Tyler Cowen now suggests that free college is a way to restrain education spending!

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.

2011: A majority of the Madison School Board aborted the proposed Madison Property Academy IB charter school.