Magazine article Dissent

Editor's Page

Magazine article Dissent

Editor's Page

Article excerpt

WHEN AMERICANS tune Inward, what do they hear in "globalizing" times? All too often that "the market" is the solution-whatever the trouble. It's reminiscent of bad Marxism. Remember the advanced theorists who insisted: nationalize the means of production, all problems dissolve-even those with little to do with production? Smarter people on the left always abjured such nostrums, even accepting that markets could be useful. Just not as life's moral masters. It's still a cogent conviction. Yet now it must be pressed against different quarters, where markets are deemed to be patriotic, consumerism interchangeable with citizenship, and social pain the fault of anyone enduring it. Such views are contested in the "Arguing America" section of this issue of Dissent. Here are three examples. Proponents of school vouchers say, "Let parents choose their children's education." Sounds simple. But then Amy Gutmann poses some questions: What terms should shape education policy-those of consumers on the market or those of public purpose and democratic citizenship? Should we subsidize private schools that practice "racial, religious or gender" discrimination? Will vouchers secure good schools for all the poor or equal public funding of private and public schools, effectively subsidizing the well-to-do? If it is unfair for poor kids to suffer bad schools, is it fair for them to suffer "bad neighborhoods" because their parents lack decent-paying work with child care and health insurance? Which leads to Gutmann's weightier query: are troubled schools the result of "public control," supposedly remedied by privatization, or of politics, calling out for serious reform? …

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