An Interesting Statement by Milton Friedman
It is summer, and I am working on my third book, this one on school choice (e.g., vouchers, charter schools). (For those who might be concerned that I do not know how enjoy summer, I also lounge in the pool almost daily and intentionally schedule visits with friends so that I do not become a crazy, book-writing hermit crab.)
The late economist Milton Friedman is considered to be the “father of school choice,” and so, I am including information on Friedman my school choice book.
While working on my chapter on Friedman, I came across a 1995 interview that Friedman did with Reason magazine senior editor Brian Doherty.
In that interview, Friedman offers the following advice to those who would work in economic policy. However, his words take on fresh meaning in our current atmosphere in which those influencing educational policy are financially dependent upon wealthy individuals and organizations with clear education-privatization agendas:
Throughout my career, I spent most of my time on technical economics. This policy stuff has been a strict avocation. If you really want to engage in policy activity, don’t make that your vocation. Make it your avocation. Get a job. Get a secure base of income. Otherwise, you’re going to get corrupted and destroyed. How are you going to get support? You’re only going to get support from people who are ideologically motivated. And you’re not going to be as free as you think you’re going to be.
There you have it: The plight of the handsomely-paid, education-privatizing minion who might protest the above statement but who in reality cannot publicly veer from the ideology of his or her funding source.
There is no free thought (and no resulting free action) when someone advocating a particular stance is paying another to advocate that stance.
Yes, the puppeted might express their doubts privately– but to do so publicly would bring the ideological gravy train supporting them to an inevitable end.
And for most in corporate reform, the gravy is everything.