Why do people often cite education as something only government can provide?

Often, I have heard people defend the necessity of government by arguing that government is necessary to provide the "public good" of education. I have actually heard people argue that, unless the government collects taxes to fund a "free" government education system, nobody will be able to get an education.

Obviously, this can be disproven on empirical grounds, even in our current society where government requires everybody to pay for government schools, whether or not they send their kids to those particular schools. The fact that many people are willing to pay twice for education by either homeschooling their kids or sending them to a private school (yes, the private sector can provide schools).

Even the slightly more mild form of the argument for government education (that not everybody will get an education if government doesn’t run its own schools) is spurious. Granting, for the sake of argument, that the claim that, without government spending on education, many children would be unable to get an education (although I don’t think this claim is true either), that is not a good argument for government to run its own school system. In fact, the government could almost certainly save alot of money and achieve the same or better educational results by giving out vouchers to pay tuition for any private school. To use the example of Washington, DC, if the politicians in Washington, DC wanted to do so, they could send every kid in DC to the elitist private school that the president’s daughters attend for roughly the same amount of money they already spend at their government schools (considering that Obama has chosen not to send his kids to the DC government schools, I think we all know which school provides a better education).

Politicians talk all the time about how they want to eliminate "waste, fraud, and abuse" in the government in this country. If they are serious about doing this, how about getting the government out of the business of building and operating schools, something which it has proven it cannot do efficiently? If you truly believe that children would be unable to get an education in a pure free market, then how about replacing the government’s socialized schools program with a government handout program? That would be, at the very least, less of a drain on the taxpayers than the current money sink.

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