David Rodeback's Blog

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Accumulated Thoughts about the Voucher Debate

A surprise endorsement of vouchers, some notes on the anti-voucher playbook, and some logical thought.

A Surprise Endorsement of Vouchers

Here's a surprise. The [Provo] Daily Herald takes a break from its typical, slight leftward spin and endorses vouchers -- in the form of Referendum One, that is. The editorial opinion accuses the voucher opposition's leadership of being "elitist" and "muddleheaded," and says they "argue against common sense." Here are the last three short paragraphs:

To say, as voucher opponents do, that the state's only obligation is to provide a state-run monopoly is to say that outcomes don't matter. To them, it's not about what's best for one child but protecting the status quo.

We hope that Utah voters are wise enough to look beyond the rhetoric in what the Wall Street Journal reports is a $3 million advertising campaign -- a campaign funded by a giant out-of-state labor union whose greatest fear is a loss of political clout.

Utahns should take a stand for the value of the individual and pass a modest measure that helps parents be good stewards as they strive to provide opportunities for their children.

I'm shocked. I'm pleased. Who knew?

The Playbook

If we may safely assume that the richly-funded mass media advertising campaign against vouchers is following the playbook -- maybe it actually defines the playbook -- then the voucher opponents I've blogged about (here and here and here and here, and see also this), whose arguments were logically flawed and were filled with half-truths and bad assumptions, were following the playbook, too. I've heard every argument I criticized in the last few days, either in advertisements or when high-profile voucher opponents have been on talk radio. What was shallow in American Fork is shallow on KSL; what was illogical here is illogical there. And the same half-truths and outright errors are rampant statewide, apparently, not just in American Fork.

This revives the question: Is this the anti-voucher crowd sincerely doing its best? Or do they know better, but think the voters at large are stupid, thoughtless, and/or emotion-driven at the expense of reason?

Colleagues' Insights

I work with computer programmers, and I am one, so I expect to hear sound, logical thinking at work. I am rarely disappointed, and this is not one of those rare days.

One colleague essentially said, as we discussed the voucher debate, "You know what these are, don't you? Typical union tactics."

Another colleague reasons thusly: We don't expect the auto workers' union to look out for the car buyer or owner; at best it looks out for the auto workers. We don't expect the union to which civil servants at the IRS belong to look out for the taxpayer; at best it looks out for the government workers. Why, then, are we so willing to swallow the silliness that the teachers' unions have schoolchildren's interests at heart?

As I said, sound, logical thinking.

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