On Tuesday, California voters issued a resounding rejection to actor/director Rob Reiner's Proposition 82. That much discussed ballot item (see here) would have taxed the uber-rich in order to finance universal pre-school for Golden State 4-year-olds. Making pre-school available to all sounds fine at first blush. But as David Brooks points out, Proposition 82 is also another example of "the tragedy of American liberalism." Why? Because it begins with a positive concept (that high-risk youth should be provided a structured, educational environment at early ages), and then proceeds to institutionalize and sterilize it by wrapping it in reels of bureaucratic tape. Brooks reports that three-quarters of the funds would have been spent on kids already in preschool. Less than 10 percent would go to poor kids not in preschool. Plus, why should Californians trust their state to do a good job educating 4-year-olds when it does such a shabby job educating kids from five to eighteen? They shouldn't, and they don't.
"Voters reject Prop. 82," by Dana Hull, San Jose Mercury News, June 7, 2006
"Good Intentions, Bad Policy," by David Brooks, New York Times, June 4, 2006 (subscription required)