Second, via his little Twitter sidebar, I see that Matt Yglesias and Ned Resnikoff are chatting about it. Yglesias says, regarding my piece, "I think it's absurd to write about school choice without talking about housing policy. The non-poor have lots of choice!" To which Resnikoff responds, "Not sure I understand what you're getting at. Is this about picking a school district to live in?" To which Yglesias replies, "Exactly -- the non-poor have school choice by choosing where to live, the poor aren't allowed to move to good school districts."
First, in my defense, posts should only be so long, particularly when they are at somebody else's digs. I'm a guest at Balloon Juice. There's much that could be talked about in terms of housing policy, sure. I will talk about it sometime I'm sure. But for now-- I think Yglesias is actually reinforcing my point. Yes, indeed: the non-poor have more choices in life than the poor. This is not the damning criticism he seems to think it is. Think again about transportation. Not only do the rich have the ability to not ride the bus, they have the ability to choose a Honda Civic or a Ferrari or a team of sherpas to carry them around. Do the rich have more options? Yes. Yes, of course. I don't see how that's an argument for voucherizing public programs.
Like me, Yglesias supports universal access to quality health care. Does that mean that, if we get it, the rich will suddenly stop having more options? Of course not. They'll have the option to jet to France to get medical care or to see some New Age shaman or just go to different doctors that those receiving socialized health care can't. I don't understand how this lack of "choice" is any different from the poor's inability to pick up sticks and go to public schools in Palo Alto. Yes, things are better for the rich. Yes, that entails more choice. It sucks. I can think of some ways we can change that, and I'd like to implement them, but they involve dramatically changing our system of resource distribution. If Yglesias is asking for that, then I like him more already.*
*Note to my endless cadre of emailers: more than I already do. I have written many more words of praise for Yglesias in my life than I have words of criticism. Look it up.
Update: See E.D. Kain for a sympathetic but different perspective.
Update II: Yglesias in comments:
Short of radically changing the distribution of income (though that could be be) is radically changing housing policy. In prosperous suburbs all across the United States it's generally illegal to build the kind of apartment buildings full of small dwelling units that poor people would be able to afford.I'm on board!