Letters and Replies: Tax Credits for Education - The Objective Standard

To the Editor:

When I saw Richard Salsman’s forty-page article [“Economics in Atlas Shrugged” (TOS, Spring 2011)] listed in the contents, I couldn’t imagine how that much could be said about economics in Atlas, perhaps because Rand’s views on the subject always seemed so natural to me. Nevertheless, I loved every word. Salsman skillfully concretized the conflict by presenting modern views on economics before demolishing them with Rand’s words. I particularly enjoyed the description of Rearden at fourteen as the unmoved mover, and Salsman’s comparing Rearden to Steve Jobs. Thank you for the sheer pleasure of seeing two great minds at work, Rand’s and Salsman’s.

Eric Kalin
New York, New York

How can a tax-credit program keep government from regulating private schools, and is such a program politically viable?

To the Editor:

In “Toward a Free Market in Education: School Vouchers or Tax Credits?” (TOS, Spring 2011), Michael LaFerrara argues persuasively that voucher programs will lead to government regulation and control of private schools, and eventually to a de facto government takeover of private schools. But Mr. LaFerrara does not explain why this same objection doesn’t apply equally to his tax-credit program. He says simply, “The government would have absolutely no say in what constitutes legitimate education expenses and no ability to audit parents to determine whether they were using credits for expenses the government deemed acceptable” and goes on to show an attractive example of how the math would work out in practice.

Is it really plausible that any aspect of one’s tax life could remain totally and perpetually off limits to auditors? If so, it would immediately start attracting tax evaders who would create various types of “education”-related scams. More fundamentally, tax credits finance schools just as vouchers do. If money that people would otherwise owe the government were spent instead on private education, that would constitute an actual reduction in revenue to the government. So it seems that government would have all the same incentives under either a voucher or a tax-credit program to ensure that it approves of the schools that receive that money. . . .

Endnotes

1 “U.S. Supreme Court Dismisses Legal Challenge to Arizona School Choice Program,” Institute for Justice, http://ij.org/about/3751, emphasis added.

2 Linda Stamato and Sanford M. Jaffe, “The State, Religion and the U.S. Supreme Court,” NJ.com, http://blog.nj.com/njv_guest_blog/2011/04/the_state_religion_and_the_us.html.

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