Economic liberty, school choice, and opportunity for all

March 31, 2016 | By WENCONG FA

This morning, I spoke with the Northern California Record, an upstart paper affiliated with the Chamber of Commerce, about my participation in a UC Berkeley panel debate on affirmative action.

The journalist asked several important questions, but the one that stuck out was a question on what the government can do to ensure that everyone is given an opportunity to succeed. Generally, the free market produces the best result, so the best course of action for the government is usually to do nothing (of course, this rarely happens because it’s hard to get credit for doing nothing).

Other times, however, the government can correct its own wrongful actions, and tear down government-created barriers to success. Barriers like needless occupational licensing requirements and the public education monopoly.

Occupational licensing requirements sometimes serve no purpose other than pure economic protectionism. In other words, many licensing requirements protect powerful industry insiders at the expense of entrepreneurs who seek to earn a living and consumers who wish to benefit from the quality-enhancing forces of the free market. That’s why leaders of both parties have called on federal and state legislatures to scale back licensing requirements. And that’s why PLF is calling for the judiciary to ensure that excessive licensing requirements do not squash constitutional rights.

It is a similar story with respect to school choice. The public school monopoly deprives many children of the opportunity to succeed. For decades, educational opportunity was defined by a child’s zip code. Children in impoverished areas were stranded in failing public schools: marooned, assumed doomed. School choice allows children to move from shoddy public schools to successful private schools. That’s why PLF defends school choice in states like Montana, despite the government’s repeated efforts to crush educational opportunity.

PLF will continue to fight for equal opportunity. It will do so by fighting against bureaucratic barriers to success such as needless occupational licensing requirements and the public education monopoly.