Trent England | February 26, 2018
The school choice elitists
“Of course we have school choice,” they say. “People are free to go to school wherever they want to.” So claim opponents of choice programs, pretending to have no problem with freedom. No doubt some of them really believe this, which makes them the school choice elitists.
Consider a government program to provide food to everyone. Perhaps the Bernie Bros have won over Oklahoma. They raise taxes substantially to provide “free” food for all. Of course, the politicians will decide what you get. (But don’t worry, if you don’t like it, just vote them out.)
The food program would not tell you where to buy food, or shut down any private grocery stores. Many stores would close because some people would like the politicians’ food choices, and many others would just accept the new status quo. People would also have less money, and even if they could afford it, who wants to pay twice for food?
Here’s the telling question: Which grocery stores, in which communities, would stay open? It would be the stores that cater to the wealthy. People who could afford to pay the higher taxes and then pay again for the food they really want would still have choices. Other stores that serve niche markets—like religious food needs—would remain, too. As all this sorted out, the price of private food would rise.
And so there would be food freedom, at least for elites. If you could afford to pay twice, and could access one of the remaining swanky or specialty stores, you would still have choices. Otherwise, what winds up on your plate would be up to politicians and political processes. (I might throw in with the OSSBA—the Oklahoma State Sausage and Bacon Association—but no doubt there would be plenty of lobbying groups and private beneficiaries to push and pull on our hypothetical public food system.)
Wait, you say, your food needs are not being met by the public food system? You want more choices, real choices? “We already have food choice,” they’ll tell you. “People are free to buy food wherever they want to.” At least, there will always be plenty of choices for the elites.
David and Ann Brown Distinguished Fellow
Trent England is the David and Ann Brown Distinguished Fellow at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, where he previously served as executive vice president. He is also the founder and executive director of Save Our States, which educates Americans about the importance of the Electoral College. England is a producer of the feature-length documentary “Safeguard: An Electoral College Story.” He has appeared three times on Fox & Friends and is a frequent guest on media programs from coast to coast. He is the author of Why We Must Defend the Electoral College and a contributor to The Heritage Guide to the Constitution and One Nation Under Arrest: How Crazy Laws, Rogue Prosecutors, and Activist Judges Threaten Your Liberty. His writing has also appeared in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Washington Times, Hillsdale College's Imprimis speech digest, and other publications. Trent formerly hosted morning drive-time radio in Oklahoma City and has filled for various radio hosts including Ben Shapiro. A former legal policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation, he holds a law degree from The George Mason University School of Law and a bachelor of arts in government from Claremont McKenna College.