Should the Liberals adopt ‘progressive liberalism’?

A recurrent critique of the Liberal Party is that it is more a conservative party than a liberal party, and that it should become more liberal. This critique has a libertarian version (for example my article on ‘big government conservatism’), and also a ‘progressive’ version, which has found its way into book form twice since the early 1990s: Christopher Puplick’s Is the Party Over?: The Future of the Liberals (1994) and Greg Barns’ What’s Wrong with the Liberal Party? (2003), which I rather unkindly reviewed for Quadrant.

After the 24 November defeat, it was the ‘progressives’ who moved first to fill the ideological vacuum left by Howard’s departure. In The Age at the weekend, Victorian Liberal Senator Judith Troeth told us that:

the party has an opportunity to reinvent itself and recapture the inclusive and progressive liberalism that once made it electorally strong. (emphasis added)

While some aspects of ‘progressive liberalism’ are in my view worthy, as John Roskam rightly points out it is not an election-winning strategy for the Liberal Party. Can anyone name an election the Liberals won because they were more ‘progressive’ than Labor?
Continue reading “Should the Liberals adopt ‘progressive liberalism’?”

Should public schools be privatised? Day 4

Day 4

[Introduction] [Day 1] [Day 2] [Day 3]

From Andrew Leigh:

Dear A.N.,

Let’s be careful about what we claim for private schools. The fact that private school attendance is positively correlated with civic activity doesn’t tell us anything about the causal impact. It could be that private school kids have rich parents, don’t move house as often, or any of a dozen unobservables. Just as the positive correlation between AWAs and wages doesn’t provide any useful causal evidence, so too correlation doesn’t mean causation in the case of public and private schools. My guess is that if we take a given child, she would be no more civically active if she attended a private school than if she attended a public school.

While I don’t think private schools have a special gift for turning kids into what Robert Putnam would call “social capitalists”, neither do I think that the typical private schools does a worse job of teaching tolerance than the typical public school. That’s basically why I support private schools getting government dollars: the per-child government funding to private schools is only about 55% of the per-child funding to a public school, so the taxpayer saves 45%. It may be the case that private schools have some positive externality (Caroline Hoxby argues that competition from private schools has the potential to ‘lift all boats’), or negative externality (if private schools skim the cream, the peer effects in public schools may go down), but I basically think that the best thing about private schools is that every kid who goes there saves you and me about $5000 ($11,000-$6000).

As I understand it, you’d now like to fund private schools on the same basis as public schools. Continue reading “Should public schools be privatised? Day 4”