Posted by: crudbasher | February 6, 2014

Will Obamacare Hurt Public Education?

I rapidly learned that on the Internet there are several topics you blog about at your peril. Namely, those are sex, politics and religion. I saw an article though that sparked a thought I wanted to share. I’m not going to look at the political implications, but instead want to try to connect some dots.

Earlier this week the Congressional Budget Office came out with a few revised projections about the Affordable Care Act aka Obamacare. They said that over the next 10 years there will be over 2 million fewer full time jobs directly because of the “unintended consequences” of the law. I put that in quotes because some people did predict exactly this effect but that’s not relevant for this discussion. What is relevant are other unintended consequences.

Part of the requirements to work in politics is you have to be able to promote an argument no matter how counterintuitive it is. For example, the New York Times had a story where they actually said that 2 million fewer jobs is a good thing! As NYT opinion writer Ross Douthat commented:

So far, nearly all of the left-of-center responses to the latest C.B.O. projections on Obamacare and workforce participation have emphasized the upside of the downward trend — the fact that what we’re seeing is just the end of job lock in action, which gives parents the freedom to cut their hours, near-retirees the chance to stop working a job they hate a little early, and so on down a sympathetic list. “If Obamacare really does cause millions of people to voluntarily leave full-time employment,” Matt Yglesias writes in a representative piece, “that shows us how much avoidable suffering the earlier system was causing,” and you can find roughly similar arguments from Jonathan Cohn, Jonathan Chait, and others too numerous to name.

I don’t agree this is a good thing. A person is most satisfied with their life when they can provide for their own needs. Anyway, I look at this as trying to put a good spin on a deteriorating situation but let’s take it at face value.

The idea here is that people won’t need to work full time because of Obamacare. Ok… so what will they do then? How about if they homeschool their kids? If enough people start to homeschool, it will reduce the amount of kids going to public schools. As that happens, schools will close and funding will be reduced.

I’m not saying it’s likely to happen but that is how my brain works. I look for the effects of events in society on education because as I have often said, the public education system doesn’t work in a vacuum. Instead it is a reflection of the society around it. This law will continue to reshape society in many unexpected ways. Remember, the law was never amended, nor was it examined closely. Instead it was essentially a “first draft” and for now we have to live with it.


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