December 9, 2009 10:00AM

Schools and Rotten Meat


USA Today has been running a lengthy series on the condition of food sold through federal school lunch programs, and today's installment is particularly interesting. It turns out that fast-food chains like Jack in the Box and Burger King -- predatory capitalists who want nothing more than to make filthy lucre off of unsuspecting hungry people -- have much higher meat quality standards than does the selfless government sworn to protect the public.

How can that be? Oh right: As I wrote in my paper "Corruption in the Public Schools: The Market Is the Answer," companies that have to attract and keep customers to stay in business have a huge incentive to avoid such things as, you know, sending their customers to the hospital! Not so government bureaucrats or educationists, who are getting your tax dollars no matter what.

This is a basic, basic reality that is all but totally ignored by people who insist we need government to protect us from evil corporations. And it is doubly ignored (if that's logically possible) in education, where the assumption is that government must provide the schools if they are to be any good, and that profit-seekers are handmaids of the devil.

And so I ask (only slightly tongue-in-cheek): How many more children have to get E. coli before we allow freedom in education?