by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
No, Jim Geraghty doesn’t want to use his smartphone to hail a car to take him to the nearest college campus. (Well, he might, if he’s speaking about The Weed Agency to a campus audience.) But his latest column for National Review Online explains why the future of American education would benefit from the type of innovation represented by companies like Uber.
For a long time, free-market advocates in big cities lamented the state-run monopolies that dominated their taxicab business. These advocates denounced high fares, poorly justified surcharges, lousy cars, way-too-cozy relationships with city officials, and so on. Conservatives railed against the situation, they offered practical reforms — but rarely if ever did they succeed in breaking up a city’s government-sanctioned monopoly.
Then along came Uber.
Uber did not set out to force a change on the basis of ideology. Its founders probably don’t even think of themselves as conservative or free-market or libertarian. They just had an idea for a business and pursued it, and, in the process, they have ended the state-enforced monopoly of taxis. They just went around it.
Americans have a lot of problems right now. One of the biggest is broad-based economic uncertainty. In the past two decades (and particularly since the Great Recession) the white-collar middle class has been experiencing what the blue-collar middle class experienced in the 1970s and 1980s: The rules of the game changed without warning. Two generations ago, an American could go from high school to the factory floor and make a decent living. After that unwritten deal was broken, Americans were told: Do well in high school, go to college, and go into whatever debt is necessary to get your degree, because you’ll make it back later in higher wages.
In both cases, there was an implicit promise: Enter the education system and you will emerge capable of finding work quickly, succeeding in your job, earning promotions, and living the good life.
The 2016 Republican presidential nominee needs to speak explicitly about that broken promise. And his platform has to call for completely overhauling our education system on a grand scale and at a rapid pace.
We need an Uber for failing schools.