Jonah Goldberg challenges and defeats one of the sacred beliefs of the left in an L.A. Times piece — that government “investments” in education drive economic growth. It’s a notion that sounds nice, thus helping to promote the idea that leftists care deeply about society, and that also pays off a major leftist support group, the education establishment. But it’s not true. More spending on education has little if any positive impact on the knowledge and skills of young people. Sometimes it has a decidedly negative impact, as is the case when “progressive” educational theory comes to dominate classrooms and students are therefore mostly left adrift.
On their own, people are pretty good at optimizing their own investment in human capital, through formal schooling but largely through learning outside of school. When the state gets involved, it “privileges” the former at high expense, but does not elevate the overall level of knowledge and skill the people hold.