Consequentialism, Liberalism

Two Genetic Arguments

Some people think this is a good argument against school vouchers:

Vouchers Are Racist
1. Many the people who originally defended school vouchers decades ago did so because they wanted to reinforce racial segregation/prevent racial integration. [Corrupt semi-historian Nancy MacLean continually lies to the public that James Buchanan had this motive, but presumably some people actually did, even if historical documents show that Buchanan in fact supported integration.]

2. If some of the original supporters of school vouchers did so because they believed vouchers would reinforce racial segregation, then supporting vouchers is racist.

3. Therefore, supporting vouchers is racist.

On its face, this is a silly argument–after all, it could turn out that the original supporters were wrong. Perhaps vouchers turn out to actually reduce segregation. If we care about segregation, we’d want to check; we wouldn’t just assume the original supporters got the facts right.

But no matter. What I find odd is that certain people on the Left find the Vouchers Are Racist argument sound, but then at the same time do not accept this parallel argument:

Minimum Wage Laws Are Classist, Racist, and Eugenicist

1. The economists who first proposed minimum wage laws did so because they believed these laws would cause mass unemployment among whom they regarded as the dregs of society. They wanted to starve them out and thus improve the gene pool. [Unlike MacLean’s fictions about Buchanan, this is actually true. See  here and here.]

2. If the economists who first proposed minimum wage laws did so because they believed these laws would starve the poor, then supporting minimum wage laws is classist, racist, and eugenicist.

3. Therefore, supporting minimum wage laws is classist, racist, and eugenicist.

This second argument has the same structure as the first. The main difference is that premise 1 is clearly true in the second argument but not in the first. Still, many on the Left find the first compelling but the second argument not compelling. They can’t have it both ways. “Genetic arguments for me but not for thee!”

In fact, neither argument is any good, even if we suppose that premise 1 of the first argument is true. I wouldn’t use the second argument against current supporters of the minimum wage. Obviously, most current supporters of the minimum wage aren’t eugenicists who want to starve the poor and prevent them from reproducing; they just believe the early economists were mistaken about what minimum wage laws will do. Similarly, economists and philosophers who today support vouchers dispute whether vouchers increase racial segregation.

Published on:
Author: Jason Brennan
  • Christopher Ritchie

    Does there seem to be a whole lot of straw flying around here or is it just me? Might make your case stronger Brennan if you could provide a link to some-one actually making the argument you are claiming ‘some’ people make.

    Otherwise this seems pretty classic Straw-manning to me. There are a host of arguments against School Vouchers, some of which do discuss them as being racist, or more properly of reinforcing racial segregation and maybe those arguments are bunk, but I’m not sure I’ve ever encountered something as simplistic as “People supported school vouchers decades ago for Racist reasons so they are bad now”.

    • Jason Brennan

      Nancy MacLean, Leo Casey.

      • Christopher Ritchie

        Some links would have been nice, but some quick Googling at least got me this;

        Which seems in the neighborhood of what you’re talking about, though again, it seems your engaged in Straw Manning as Leo Casey’s argument here is more “School Vouchers in the United states were explicitly used as a method of resistance to desegregation, that history is still present, and the present circumstances of School Vouchers continue to support racial segregation.”

        You aren’t doing a great job of convincing me of the hypocrisy of the nebulous left in this regard.

        • Brooklyn Boricua

          Straw Manning is even more obscure than Cooper, it would appear.

          The voucher defender is likely to point out that (unlike the minimum wage, in which much of the conditions for the “fuck over the least able” scheme remain intact) it is now unthinkable that school vouchers might be openly used for a segregation scheme such as was the plan in the 1950s. As for it being used covertly (and probably with far more moderation) for similar purposes today, a more honest and relevant argument should go like this: It’s much easier to hide discrimination from government eyes when decisions are made by a private party, merely regulated by antidiscrimination laws, than when such decisions are inherently public, government-operated matters. Won’t privatization indeed make this task harder?

          The insinuation that the DeVos Administration’s alleged lack of commitment to civil rights enforcement should make this a special worry turns out–in Casey’s links at least–to be a bit of a nothingburger. There’s some pointing out of a recent study on racial disciplinary discrimination (in those sainted public schools!) as an example, but the “rollback” turns out to be mostly about fictitious trans rights and rape panics. Say what you will about those two topics, they’re not about race.

          As for the (also linked) refusal of DeVos to “prohibit the use of vouchers in schools that discriminate,” this spectacular bit of dishonesty on the author’s part hides the fact that this “discrimination” is against LGBT students. And we know what the term “discrimination,” in the current atmosphere, is likely to characterize: Not a refusal to enroll such students, but exposing them to an atmosphere that denigrates the moral legitimacy of their preferred behaviors. Indeed, no voucher plan likely to pass is going to force a Catholic school to let its boys choose other boys as prom dates. The public should indeed think about this before going forward with their plan. But the hyperbolic language shouldn’t obscure the complete irrelevance to the topic at hand.

          The only other indictment of DeVos in the link is that she “said states, not the Education Department, would decide whether to withhold federal money from private schools that are neither required to serve a diverse pool of students nor held publicly accountable for doing so.” Of course, this is currently true of public schools; and, indeed, many do not “serve a diverse pool of students.” Entrance exam magnet schools, for example, often end up being almost exclusively Asian and white. They are often attacked on this basis–that they increase de facto segregation and worsen the schools left behind by the students they admit. This ends up being much the same as the argument against vouchers, which make available an even wider variety of superior schools. Otherwise, it is hard to see how, in the absence of actual discrimination (not just indifference to “diversity,” which few private schools dare display anyway nowadays even without public funds), providing poor kids with free access to private schools could actually be bad for blacks and Latinos.

          This is just one tiny part of Casey’s paper. The rest is just a retread of the same tedious historical claims. It does not succeed in making any of it particularly relevant to an assessment of the wisdom of vouchers today.

        • Jeff R.

          How is that different than what Brennan wrote? (“Many the people who originally defended school vouchers decades ago did so because they wanted to reinforce racial segregation/prevent racial integration.” ) It’s the same thing, as far as I can tell. I would also add that “That history is still present” is more or less exactly what the OP says with the line “2. If some of the original supporters of school vouchers did so because they believed vouchers would reinforce racial segregation, then supporting vouchers is racist.”

    • Phil Magness
      • stevenjohnson2

        “In her speech, to be delivered at the union’s traditional summer conference, Weingarten says the Trump administration’s school choice plans are secretly intended to starve funding from public schools.” The belief that defunding public schools is racist because harms more urban minorities than are helped by getting into private schools may be wrong, no matter how plausible. But it has nothing to do with the genetic argument in the OP.

    • Phil Magness
      • stevenjohnson2

        The genetic argument in the OP is supposed to be that school vouchers etc. are racist, and we know this because racists invented them as a ploy to resist desegregation. This is a straw man argument applied to MacLean, because MacLean apparently makes no attempt to demonstrate this is racist. The criticism has in fact been that MacLean systematically misreads Buchanan in light of this prejudgment. These reviewers agree with MacLean, but they also assume in this review that the effects of choice etc. is racist in effect. That’s not the genetic argument falsely attributed in the OP.

  • DBritt

    Boy you got the best of that straw man! When you feel your training has prepared you maybe try this wooden man argument:

    1. There is substantial risk that the outcome of a voucher program will be racist in effect, whatever its intention. One can point to proposals, past and present, for which a racist outcome is likely or certain.
    2. A voucher program brought about by an administration that has explicitly used racist language and offered support to racist groups to advance its agenda raises all the more concern of such an outcome.
    3. In light of such concerns and the propensity of the administration and congress to use a strategy of rapid legislation in order to avoid popular opposition it is best to be prepared for maximal opposition at the outset. Maybe a good proposal comes along, but if a bad one does you may have little or no time to marshal opposition.

    • Jason Bedrick

      1. As I showed below, the research shows that private school choice policies lead to greater racial integration. How can that be? Well, is there any more racist policy (in effect) than assigning kids to school based on the location of the homes their parents can afford? District-based schooling has produced a massively segregated system. School choice allows black kids to go to private schools that they couldn’t otherwise afford.

      2. There won’t be a federal voucher program. It’s a state issue, and these laws have been passed in 29 states — red, blue, and purple.

      3. The opposition is mostly from white, suburban liberals. Urban blacks and Hispanics support school choice for obvious reasons. Just ask the 100,000 mostly black and brown folks receiving tax-credit scholarships in Florida with an average household income of only $25K.

      • DBritt

        “School choice allows black kids to go to private schools that they couldn’t otherwise afford.”

        In the absence of particular policy language it’s impossible to tell whether that statement is supported. It is trivially easy to build a voucher program for which that statement is true in theory but totally false in practice.

        “There won’t be a federal voucher program.”

        I used the phrase “brought about” because it’s an explicit goal of the Ed. secretary. They could attempt to pass policy at the federal level to enable or explicitly mandate vouchers. But they can also work to promote such programs in states.

        “The opposition is mostly from white, suburban liberals. Urban blacks and Hispanics support school choice for obvious reasons.”

        I’d love a reference on the second sentence if you have one available. But the point of the wooden man argument above was 1) to be a hell of a lot better at representing actual liberal views than the silly strawman in Brennan’s text and 2) to point out that resistance to the policy in the abstract under certain political conditions has a totally different motivation than resistance to any particular instance of the policy one might care to discuss. The trust gap between liberals and the administration is real and matters in how they approach issues.

        • Jason Bedrick

          The statement that school choice helps black students attend schools they couldn’t otherwise afford is very well supported. See the stats I include in this piece (toward the bottom):

          Most of the private school choice programs in the nation (excluding those limited to students with special needs) are majority minority. And a bunch of surveys show that most of those families say they couldn’t otherwise afford to go to private school.

          As for anything “brought about” by the EdSec — you vastly overestimate the power of that office. At most, she can say nice things about a school choice proposal. While she has spoken about school choice generally, she hasn’t put her weight behind any particular legislative initiative.

          In any case, the school choice movement long predated Trump and will exist long after he’s out of office.

          See here for data on support for school choice among minorities:

          And as I noted before, this “straw man” argument is what the NEA and Center for American Progress have been making. Take it up with them, not Brennan!

          • DBritt

            I’m not arguing that all voucher proposals are bad. I’m arguing that the article is a silly misrepresentation of liberal thought on the issue. The fact that CAP’s article *mentions* the history of vouchers does not make that the central aspect of their position. And lo and behold when I Google up NEA’s page entitled “The Cast Against Vouchers” nothing on their racist origins even makes the page. This is such an obvious straw man I can hardly believe I have to defend that point. The racist origins of vouchers is absolutely not a major aspect of contemporary arguments against vouchers. Is it possible to find discussions of those origins *within* broader arguments? Yes. But that does nothing to justify this article. It is self-congratulatory in the maximum to think that this article vanquishes a notable opponent.

            As a wholly separate issue, your polling cited fails to support the statement you made that “Urban blacks and Hispanics support school choice.” I don’t know where you get the word “urban” from in that polling, but given that you’ve only got data for black people from Alabama, Louisiana, New Jersey, and Tennessee you have a hard time convincing me that’s representative of *any* trend in the black population, let alone a specifically urban trend.

          • Jason Bedrick
          • Jason Bedrick

            Blacks are more likely, on average, to live in urban areas than suburban or rural areas. This shouldn’t be surprising.

            The 2017 EdNext poll didn’t have a large enough sample of African Americans to break them down by subcategory, but the 2016 version did:


            And here are some more polls for you:

            “In addition to overall percentages, AFC broke out the survey numbers by specific demographic groups. Seventy-five percent of Latinos and 72 percent of African Americans support school choice compared to 65 percent of Whites.”


            See also this piece, which links to several polls and notes that even the surveys from anti-choice groups find higher support among blacks than among the general populace:


            And this is nothing new. It’s an old trend:

            “A 1999 survey by Public Agenda, a nonpartisan research group, found that 68 percent of blacks favor vouchers. A similar poll by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a nonpartisan think tank, showed that the percentage of blacks supporting school vouchers rose to 60 percent in 1999 from 48 percent in 1996.”


          • DBritt

            Unifying the threads:

            The AmericanProgressAction link you provided was a single blurb for a single event. It’s not some sort of position paper or manifesto. If having an event at which discussion of the racist origins of vouchers is *one* topic among others relating to vouchers is the best we can do, what we have is a straw man. You’ll note that also in the blurb is the sentence “Our distinguished panelists will also address and discuss current voucher programs that have led to inequities along racial and socioeconomic lines, as well as various voucher schemes proposed by President Donald Trump and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.” Is that “racist origins = bad?”

            The Leo Casey piece is of a similar issue. It discusses the racist origins, but that is *hardly* all it says on the topic. At worst you could accuse the left of using the racist origins of vouchers as a means to slander vouchers and bias the audience against them. But that is *hardly* the main substance of their argument.

            On the polling:

            The 2016 polling has the same problem if you click through to the school choice section. The next one (EdExcellence) is a push poll, which is why they get such high numbers overall (compare to the EducationNext overall numbers, where the wording is neutral and provided in full). The NYTimes article doesn’t compare to general population, so it can’t be used to say anything particular about black people.

          • Jason Bedrick

            The CAP event was an event ABOUT their manifesto, to which I also linked.

            And no one hear said this is the *only* argument they make. But it has emerged as a *prominent* argument that think tankers, union leaders, and even some professors have been making in recent years.

            Again: if you think it’s stupid, I agree. Take it up with them, not Brennan.

            Yes, I agree EdNext is the best of the bunch. What I was showing with the other polls was that whether by pro-choice or anti-choice groups, support among blacks is higher than among whites. And the polls in the NYT piece show that they’ve been high for a long time.

          • Jason Bedrick

            Also, if you actually look at the poll in the NYT article, it DOES compare blacks to the general population:

            “Support for vouchers is higher among minorities: 46% of blacks and 41% of Hispanics *strongly* favor vouchers, compared to 29% of the general public”

            (Unfortunately, I don’t have access to the full report so I can’t say how many merely “support” or “somewhat support” vouchers, but the NYT piece shows that 68 percent of blacks “favor” vouchers.)


          • DBritt

            “And no one hear said this is the *only* argument they make. But it has emerged as a *prominent* argument”

            I have yet to see someone actually make the argument “vouchers are bad *because* they have racist origins.” The CAP paper (my bad for missing the link) claims that the racist origins bear relevance to the present day in that it provides an example of how vouchers can go wrong (and they provide other examples). Their argument is, basically, that amongst those who are eligible for vouchers the most well to do will be the only ones to benefit. And often that split will fall along racial lines. Now, you may agree or disagree with that argument, but it is nothing like the straw man posited in the article here.

            As for the polling, I don’t think it’s nuts to suspect that black people support vouchers at a higher rate than the population. I’m actually surprised that the evidence isn’t out there in a clear form to be looked at. I did notice that bit about “strongly support” in the NYT, but I’m suspicious of arbitrarily choosing “strongly” rather than simply reporting the relative support of any type. I don’t believe the affirmative statement that black people are more likely to support vouchers can be defended, at least not with the polling shown.

          • stevenjohnson2

            The idea that black parents would like to get their children out of slum schools is plausible. The idea that defunding public schools leaves those left behind worse off is also plausible. The perceptions that private schools don’t have racial problems or that trashing urban schools is trashing bad blacks and Latinos seem to me to be both implausible and racist.

          • stevenjohnson2

            Polling for school prayer or teaching creation in biology class is about as relevant. The assumption that a consumer satisfaction survey should guide public policy is a way of assuming a preposterous market/business view of education. The supposedly tough-minded objective analysts who come up with this crap can’t even explain who the customer is in education: The student? The parents? The employers who want semi-finished labor? The state and federal departments of education?

            Even if you assumed the schools as market commodities incoherent twaddle somehow makes sense, you have the problem of making sure that private schools are actually superior, rather than having superior PR.

          • Sean II

            When polling conflicts with revealed preference, polls lose.

          • DBritt

            I am open to non-poll forms of evidence.

          • Sean II

            Try voting and party affiliation.

            By those lights, blacks and hispanics are the most reliable opponents of school choice.

            The capture of the Democratic Party by teachers unions is hardly a secret. So if any group makes it their business to support that party always and everywhere, one thing we can’t say about them is “they really want school choice.”

            If someone doesn’t want something enough to have it, if he won’t give up other things to get it, eventually we say he doesn’t want that thing.

            Same goes here.

          • DBritt

            Got it, thanks for elaborating.

          • Sean II

            It also helps to look at context and background.

            I.e. what kind of solutions do black communities usually favor?

            Are they big fans of privitization and market bases reforms?

            Or do they typically look to elected officials, social policy programs, and bureaucratic control?

            Yeah, it’s the latter by a mile. So we must weigh that in the balance when interpreting things like a positive survey result for school choice.

            It suggests any support for choice will likely be soft, as in soft enough to come apart when someone tries to pick it up and use it.

            Of course sales teams (like Cato) are trained to stop asking questions as soon as someone gives the answer they want. One good poll terminates their curiosity.

            But we needn’t be so bound. We can hold out for answers that actually make sense, stand up, replicate, fit the wider context, explain things, etc.

          • stevenjohnson2

            The Examiner article is a good example of fake news, and how it’s nothing at all like what conservatives mean. “By breaking the link between schooling and housing, these choice options are fostering increased racial integration.” This misrepresents the issue by changing the link between schooling and local funding of school and social support (“housing” is insufficient, therefore misleading. The effects of school choice include the effects due to defunding the public schools. Any so-called analysis that neglects this issue is wrong.

            The simple truth is that (largely white) suburban schools have been the products of choice as well. And the overload on (largely black and Latino) urban schools, both on campus and in the social environment are products of choice as well. It is not at all clear how the insistence on more choice is expected to advance the free market. If the idea is to compensate market failure by redistributing income, then the issue is whether more people are helped by redistributing income to support the schools in deprived areas. That is, the opposite of school choice.

      • Sean II

        “Urban blacks and Hispanics support school choice…”

        That statement is false.

        Except in the trivial sense that damn near everyone supports school choice if you phrase the question leadingly enough, Sir Humphrey style.

        The real test is: do minority voters support school choice enough not to keep voting for Democrats at 90% (blacks) or 70% (Hispanics).

        And the answer is no. Saying you support school choice while block voting for Democrats is like saying “I really want to lose weight, just not if it means giving up my membership in the cheesecake of the week club.”

  • stevenjohnson2

    The purported thesis of the OP, that genetic arguments are invalid, is correct. Whether anyone actually makes the first argument is questionable enough. The criticism of MacLean is supposed to be that she believe vouchers etc. to be racist, and therefore systematically misreads Buchanan’s* record. That is the opposite of the genetic fallacy. Jason Brennan gets it exactly wrong in his response to Ritchie. (Leo Casey, don’t know who that is.)

    *James C. Buchanan is of course the gentleman who suddenly discovered after centuries of competitive private education where people bought education on the market from their own pocket, that contrary to the misleading record of all those centuries, in fact: The US public school system would obviously be improved by multiplying fixed costs by adding private schools, or at least schools privately chosen by parents given public funds in some form or other. The diversion of taxes is evidently what makes this a public choice.

  • Kurt H

    You missed an opportunity to use the most common right-wing equivalent of this type of “argument” — the idea that Margaret Sanger supported eugenics, therefore Planned Parenthood is a racist population control scheme. Like MacLean’s slur of Buchanan, this nonsense relies upon twisting and misrepresenting history, as well as commiting the genetic fallacy.

  • ncovington89

    Is there any empirical evidence that vouchers increase integration?

    • Jason Bedrick
      • stevenjohnson2

        Like Jason Brennan and Phil Magness on Nancy MacLean, if you don’t have a strong case, you cite the weak, and the irrelevant, and hope that enough citations provide an illusion of consensus. Quoting each other helps too. Your relentless stream of BS is up to the highest standards of your peers Brennan and Magness, but really that doesn’t say much. So, no, not lots.

        First source relies on hanky panky with graphs. Figure 1 has a note revealing the exclusion of many schools, calling into question the relevance of the whole exercise. At that, there is no significant difference in integration for receiving schools. Figure 2 about desegregated schools also is dubious for the omissions. Again, even so, it shows about a fourth of sending schools are more segregated by vouchers. And for receiving schools 32 of 236 are less segregated by vouchers. Any strong conclusions about how effective vouchers are in fighting segregation are unwarranted. Citing it for support is deceptive.

        My guess is Figure 1 probably shows that moving some better of black students out of public schools leaves poor whites students stuck,Because of residential segreation, the smaller white minority then shows as a larger percentage, falsely suggesting an improved integration. The insignficant difference in receiving schools shows the voucher program is working as intended, moving more white students than black into receiving schools, though the smaller numbers of blacks misrepresents as a larger percentage change. This is strictly a guess. The deceptiveness of the authors disinvites charitable interpretation, though.

        The second source says “Overall, our results show that the Milwaukee voucher program is currently neutral in its effect on racial integration. This result is different from previous integration research on the Milwaukee voucher program that found positive impacts. The reason, we suspect, is that Milwaukee has already allowed residents to choose any public school regardless of geographic districting, which in turn means that over time public schooling has become less tied to patterns of residential segregation than in most metropolitan areas.” Citing this as support of vouchers is disingenuous, to say the least.

        The third source says in its conclusion, “Private schools have a much greater potential to desegregate students because they break down geographic
        barriers, drawing students together across neighborhood boundaries in a way the government school monopoly cannot match even when it tries to do so.” The government has no monopoly, by the way, but calling it one is a red flag for motivated reasoning. The quote in the previous paragraph rebuts the conclusion here. It may be useful to cite two sources that superficially appear to support you, but when they contradict each other, on the grounds that two seems more authoritative than one. But when they contradict each other, the effect isn’t cumulative. They cancel each other out.

        In the body of the report, it says ” Because private schools offer a superior education and other attractions that parents want for their children but cannot get at public schools, parents are more willing to accept longer commutes to them, What’s more, the greater desirability of private schools gives parents a reason to overcome any qualms they may have about desegregation. Parents are more likely to trust private schools to handle the challenges of a multiracial classroom environment. For example, private schools have more freedom to implement effective discipline policies, and are thus more able to prevent racial tensions among students from escalating into bigger trouble. Federal data
        confirm that racial disruptions occur much less frequently in private schools.” The implicit idea that parents who distinguish between the handful of good minorities who can be controlled in a private school and the lower orders in the public schools are not racist strikes me as a coded appeal.

        The fourth source is a twelve year old assessment of the first year of a five year pilot program. Citing the final report would be useful. Citing this is manifestly absurd, padding for the illusion of substance.

        The fifth source is a report on Milwaukee, one that was contradicted by the later report on Milwaukee, the second source. Again, contradictory sources cancel, they do not add weight to the argument.

        The sixth source is nearly twenty years old. Seriously? Especially since the third source cited is more up to date on Cleveland, the topic here.

        After such a pitiful performance, it is useful to look at the origins of this stuff. Yep, right wing policy institutes, Manhattan Institute, Buckeye Institute, Milton and Rose Friedman Foundation. One Jay P. Greene in particular stands out. He is head of the Department of Education Reform at University of Arkansas. This is apparently not the education department, which appears to be named Curriculum and Instruction. My guess is it’s a policy institute shamelessly incorporated into the university.

  • Jason Bedrick

    If this is a straw man argument, tell that to the national teachers unions and the Center for American Progress because they’ve been shopping it around for about a year.

    • Jason Brennan

      Thanks, Jason.

      To be honest, I was surprised that anyone would say this is a straw man. I don’t believe the people above who say it’s a straw man even believe that; I suspect it’s just strategic for them to deny that people make the genetic argument.

      • Jason Bedrick
        • stevenjohnson2

          “Whether the authors are correct in their insinuation that racism still motivates private school parents and students, the point they seem intent on missing is that the new voucher plan likely would send many black students to largely white private schools – and thus reduce segregation. How is that racist?” As these people know, it can be racist because it hurts all the black and Latino students left behind in defunded public schools, already in areas whose poverty add even more burdens. It is absurd to take redefinED as a legitimate source.

          As for the ricochet source, it doesn’t present the slightest evidence that anybody relies on the genetic fallacy as the OP alleges. It merely links back to the redefinEDonline source. The only evidence presented there is a report on remarks by two lawyers om a civil rights forum. Yes, well, I’m always worried when lawyers do history, unlike Bedrick. In addition to seeing a haystack in one straw, the article purports to confront the myth about school vouchers and racism. The real myth is that taking away money from public schools because it will benefit a minority of minority students is a step forward against racism.

      • Jason Bedrick

        Note that the first of the last two links addresses an article by Elizabeth Haddix and Mark Dorosin of the University of North Carolina Center for Civil Rights called “The Ugly Truth About Vouchers” which makes this genetic argument, ranting about the “the historical links between racism and private schools.”

        Again, the folks in this comment section should direct their ire at the lefties making these arguments, not Brennan.

        • stevenjohnson2

          Jason Brennan and Phil Magness posture as defenders of scholarship, while approving your absurd misrepresentations. The lawyers presentation is about defunding public schools now. There is one historical paragraph (the fifth) about the history. This is not support for the genetic fallacy charge in the OP, which is strawmanning.

      • Jason Bedrick

        And if the racist history of (some) private schools actually matters today — shouldn’t the racist history of segregated district schools? Especially when they’re, y’know, *still de facto segregated*?!

        • stevenjohnson2

          Again, the greatest myth of vouchers is the idea that this is a cure for structural racism. There isn’t the slightest evidence that school choice will do more than alter the relative percentage of melanin. Integration is about equal education, and there isn’t the slightest evidence vouchers will significantly help. It’s not certain they are actually superior, nor is it certain what benefits do accrue will compensate the damage done to those left behind. This source is irrelevant.

    • stevenjohnson2

      “‘Make no mistake: This use of privatization, coupled with disinvestment are only slightly more polite cousins of segregation,’ Weingarten said last week during a major speech at the union’s annual convention in Washington, D.C.” This is not a genetic argument. This has nothing to do with the OP’s purported high minded stance against fallacious arguments. Even if she were wrong about that, it still wouldn’t support false claims about a genetic argument.

    • stevenjohnson2

      “Modern-day voucher programs are nondiscriminatory on their face but can still exacerbate racial and socio-economic segregation.” This is not a genetic fallacy. That is blatant strawmanning. The historical example makes it perfectly clear the idea should be taken seriously, which appears to be the reason for recalling it.

  • Ted_Levy

    It IS asking a bit much, in terms of charitably interpreting one’s opponent’s arguments, to require we accept: 1. We Progressives are proud of our historical past and the role of early Progressives in setting up the administrative State, EXCEPT 2. We completely disagree with the Progressive experts of a century ago about hating minorities and viewing them as inferior, AND 3. We completely disagree with the Progressive economists of a century ago about the EFFECT of minimum wage laws, THEREFORE 4) We propose EXACTLY the same policies as the Progressives of a century ago BECAUSE we think it will have the OPPOSITE effect of what they thought it would have.

    • stevenjohnson2

      Yes, because that is not strategic. If your job is strategy, you do strategic.

  • Sean II

    Man, imagine my letdown after scrolling past the title of this post.

    “Oh, that kind of genetic argument.”

  • Peter from Oz

    But the real logical problem of the left is that they are trying to divert attention from the real argument which isn’t about funding education, but about its provision. Vouchers are of little use unless public schools are privatised as well. There will not be enough private schools to educate all those children whose parents get vouchers. Why not change the model so that just about all schools are private, with government funding givenin the form of vouchers for parents.
    Why should governments own all that propoerty, have all the capital costs of renovation and the ongoing costs of maintenance, plus the astronomical cost of teacher and bureaucrat salaries, when it is clear that they could probably pay a lot less in supporting the consumer of the service.
    The problem with public education is that leads to supplier capture. As Sir Humphrey Appleby, the Department of Education isn’t really there to deal with education, but to deal with teachers.
    The government should be spending money to support pupils and their parents, not to support left-wing teachers’ unions.

    • stevenjohnson2

      It’s the right wing that is pushing vouchers, so it is the right wing that has the logical problem.

      As for your proposition to abolish public education, the entire world has for centuries had nothing but private education, with the repeated result that the majority of the population remained uneducated. No doubt that would make it easier to sell libertarian BS but that is insufficient reward for harming so many people in my view.

      Also, the idea that teachers’ unions are left-wing is only true if all unions are left-wing because unions are left-wing simply because they are unions. That might be a matter of opinion. But it is not a matter of opinion that not all school systems have teacher unions with collective bargaining contracts, the right to strike, etc. Those school systems are not distinguishable from the other school systems. The ones where left-wing unions savage the public interest is just more fevered fantasy from libertarian crank economics.

      • Peter from Oz

        Just before compulsory education was introduced in the UK and the US the rate of literacy was just about the same or better than it is now.
        And that was when private education was the only kind of education there was.
        It seems that you have assumed that I was suggesting that privatising the school system would mean that education would not remain compulsory. The schools can be privatised whilst maintaining compulsory education. The whole idea is to shift the emphasis from the bricks and mortar and the suppliers of education and instead fund the consumer.
        All teachers’ unions, by their very nature are left wing. That is sobloody obvious only a contrarian could deny it. The whole raison d’tre of teachers’ unions is to increase state expenditure and to push public education which is a left-wing cause. When did you last hear of a teachers’ union pushing classical liberal economics or the free market?

  • Jason Bedrick

    Does anyone else find it somewhat hilarious that — in a post about the genetic fallacy — more than half of Steve Johnson’s objections are mere ad hominems?

    • stevenjohnson2

      Oh, woe! I am defeated! for Jason Brennan taught you everything he knows, and it shows!