Progressive Policies Are Supposed To Fail Before They Get Started

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

It is well known that education and poverty are correlated. Less education means lower income. It is also well known that the sooner you educate children, the better they learn throughout their entire schooling. That is why early childhood education is so important.

Needless to say, a policy proposal that focuses on early childhood education may very well lead to a more level playing field, making the life chances of youngsters more equal. We all want to give a youngster the tools to reach his or her own potential, don’t we?

Mr. de Blasio ran for mayor of New York on a platform that included a broadening of early childhood education financed by higher taxes on the some 35,000 New Yorkers who make more than US$500,000 a year. Ideas like that make him “progressive” and “liberal” in US policy and political circles. Nevertheless, he won the election by a landslide. Somehow de Blasio could tap into one of the things that his constituents want: a level playing field for our youngsters.

The press (with the exception of the so-called “liberal” press like the New York Times) responded to his victory with skepticism. The usual suspects, like The Economist and The Wall Street Journal – but also some international newspapers like The Financial Times – all chimed in with their doubts about de Blasio being able to pull off his progressive agenda. They may be right, for de Blasio could fail.

But their pessimistic response also tells us a lot. In the public discourse, the media, political talking heads, and policy wonks all seem so willing to acknowledge that inequality is a problem. However, but doing something about it? That’s a different story. When it comes to implementing policy measures that lessen inequality, everyone is doubtful, skeptical, and hesitant. Their public skepticism puts such equality-making policies into jeopardy before they even have a chance, even for something as justifiable as education policy, many times over proven as a remedy for inequality.

Why don’t we do something about inequality in education, a problem that is so very easy to fix, and offering a solution that pays off far more than the investment?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at


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