How novel are Per Capita’s ideas?

In The Australian this morning, Dennis Glover puts the case for the Per Capita think-tank because

The alternative to the CIS-Institute of Public Affairs view, therefore, has to come from elsewhere [ie, not from the Old Left]….

In the absence of a strong contest, the intellectual ideas of the Australian Right are now in danger of hardening into an ideological dogma, dominated by prefabricated and increasingly predictable soundbites.

Now the CIS is all for competition. But it is not clear to me that it is promoting ‘ideological dogma’ against the fresh thinking that might come out of a ‘new progressive agenda’ set by Per Capita.

Per Capita, for example, thinks that a huge increase in public and private investment in education will reduce poverty and increase per capita income. The ‘private’ part is perhaps controversial on the left, but the basic argument about the importance of education is orthodoxy. Every survey finds that the public wants more money spent on education.

Fresh (or at least fresher, since studying intellectual and political history suggests that genuinely new ideas are very rare indeed) thinking would be to question this orthodoxy. Perhaps for example Andrew Leigh’s research showing that we are spending more on schools but getting worse results. Or Peter Saunders’ argument that raising the school leaving age is a bad idea. Or my point that many graduates are working in jobs that don’t need university qualifications.

Perhaps we do, overall, need more spending on education. But in education policy, this is the dogma that needs testing in debate.
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