Better than sex: Berkowitz w/President Obama's former Chief Economic Adviser, Austan Goolsbee, Cable/Web

Jeff Berkowitz:  Would you agree that we are spending quite a bit on education and not getting much [bang for our buck] because we don’t have competition in education. …people can change their education[choice] by moving to another neighborhood, but they can’t take their money [that is being spent on their kid’s school] and say I want to go to another school…Would you as an economist… let those parents who want to-- take that money and go to the school of their choice [private or public]…

Austan Goolsbee:  I would say, as a general matter, I think the evidence suggests that competition is good. The rise of charter schools in places where there are more school district choices, those things on average tend to be good, but …

*****************************************

Tonight’s Chicago Metro suburban edition of Public Affairs features Austan Goolsbee, former Chairman of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers.  Goolsbee went to Washington with the President in January, 2009 and worked on the Council for about 30 months, first as one of three Council Members, and then as the Chairman of the Council for ten months.

You can also watch the Public Affairs show featuring Professor Goolsbee 24/7 on your computer

While at the Council, Professor Goolsbee focused on government efforts, e.g., an $800 billion spending stimulus plan, tax cuts and working with the Fed to flood the economy with liquidity—which were all part of an effort to revive the economy from the worst Economic Crash since the Great Contraction,  aka the Depression.  These and many other topics are debated and discussed by Professor Goolsbee with show host Jeff Berkowitz.

Dr. Goolsbee has taught at the University of Chicago Booth Business School since arriving there in 1995 with his MIT Ph. D. Professor Goolsbee was and is a close confidant of the President, having been the first economist to advise him, starting in 2003 with then State Senator Obama’s run for the U. S. Senate.

For more about tonight’s show, including a partial transcript, and more about Professor Goolsbee and the Booth Business School, please go here

***************************************

The Chicago Metro North and Northwest suburban edition of Public Affairs airs tonight at 8:30 pm on Comcast Cable on

Ch. 19 in Buffalo Grove, Elk Grove Village, Hoffman Estates, parts of Inverness, Lincolnwood, Morton Grove, Niles, Northfield, Palatine, Rolling Meadows and Wilmette.

and on

Comcast Cable Ch. 35 in Arlington Heights, Bartlett, Glenview, Golf, Des Plaines, Hanover Park, Mt. Prospect, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Prospect Heights, Schaumburg, Skokie, Streamwood and Wheeling.

The show featuring Professor Goolsbee also airs in ten North Shore suburbs tomorrow night at 8:30 pm on Comcast Cable Ch. 19 in Bannockburn, Deerfield, Ft. Sheridan, Glencoe, Highland Park, Highwood, Kenilworth, Lincolnshire, Riverwoods and Winnetka.

****************************************************************

Austan Goolsbee: Or do we want to design a system where they skimp on all public goods or do we want to invest in public goods that history has shown to increase [economic] growth.

Jeff Berkowitz:  Is education a public good?

Austan Goolsbee: Yes

Jeff Berkowitz:  Would you agree that we are spending quite a bit on education and not getting much [bang for our buck] because we don’t have competition in education. We have a system of [public] education in k-12 that has local monopolies…people can change their education[choice] by moving to another neighborhood, but they can’t take their money [that is being spent on their kid’s school] and say I want to go to another school, if they are using government [or taxpayer] money. Would you as an economist-- because you know Milton Friedman came up with this idea [of school vouchers-school choice] in 1955, more than 50 years ago before he wrote Capitalism and Freedom-- he said, just have some competition.  Let the people in Chicago—we spend more than $15,000 per kid per year in the Chicago Public Schools (“CPS”)-- let those parents who want to-- take that money and go to the school of their choice [private or public]. Now, you as an economist, I think, believe in competition. Wouldn’t we …be better off and have a better educated society if we had more competition in providing education and adopted a school voucher-school choice program.

Austan Goolsbee:  Well, I know this is a big issue for you—

Jeff Berkowitz:  Barack Obama and I discussed this often

Austan Goolsbee:  I would say, as a general matter, I think the evidence suggests that competition is good. The rise of charter schools in places where there are more school district choices, those things on average tend to be good, but this is slightly more complicated by the fact that schools tend to be big fixed cost type things so if you let just the highest income people pack up and leave—it is not unlike the old cream skimming argument with the phone network.

Jeff Berkowitz:  But, they have already done it, Austan, they leave the city and they move to the New Trier High School neighborhoods; they leave the Chicago Public Schools and they go to Parker [a private school in Chicago]; they leave the [traditional public schools in Chicago] and they go to the magnet schools, the select enrollment schools. 85% of the kids, as you know, in the Chicago Public Schools have low income parents.

Austan Goolsbee:  The argument that you should be able to take your money and go to private schools-

Jeff Berkowitz:  Especially if you are a low income person, that is who I am focusing on.

Austan Goolsbee:  If private school tuition exceeds the ability to pay of the median person, then allowing a voucher just ends up providing a subsidy—

Jeff Berkowitz:  $15,000. We spend $15,000 [per kid per year in CPS]. Let these low income parents take their $15,000 and go to the school of their choice. You and I know their kids can learn how to read for $15,000.

Austan Goolsbee:  $15,000 includes a massive amount of fixed costs. It is not all marginal costs.

Jeff Berkowitz:  Not that much, not that much fixed costs. All right…we only have a few minutes left in the show...

*********************

 

Leave a comment