"Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labor in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common." - Albert Einstein

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Do the Wealthy Have a Different Perspective on Education?

I came across a recent article on Perspective on Politics. The article is the following:

Democracy and the Policy Preferences of Wealthy Americans

Benjamin I. Pagea1, Larry M. Bartelsa2 and Jason Seawrighta3

a1 Northwestern University. E-mail: b-page@northwestern.edu   a2 Vanderbilt University. E-mail: larry.bartels@vanderbilt.edu  a3 Northwestern University. E-mail: j-seawright@northwestern.edu
Abstract
It is important to know what wealthy Americans seek from politics and how (if at all) their policy preferences differ from those of other citizens. There can be little doubt that the wealthy exert more political influence than the less affluent do. If they tend to get their way in some areas of public policy, and if they have policy preferences that differ significantly from those of most Americans, the results could be troubling for democratic policy making. Recent evidence indicates that “affluent” Americans in the top fifth of the income distribution are socially more liberal but economically more conservative than others. But until now there has been little systematic evidence about the truly wealthy, such as the top 1 percent. We report the results of a pilot study of the political views and activities of the top 1 percent or so of US wealth-holders. We find that they are extremely active politically and that they are much more conservative than the American public as a whole with respect to important policies concerning taxation, economic regulation, and especially social welfare programs. Variation within this wealthy group suggests that the top one-tenth of 1 percent of wealth-holders (people with $40 million or more in net worth) may tend to hold still more conservative views that are even more distinct from those of the general public. We suggest that these distinctive policy preferences may help account for why certain public policies in the United States appear to deviate from what the majority of US citizens wants the government to do. If this is so, it raises serious issues for democratic theory.
The article does highlight major differences in perspectives and the following are specific to education:

Downloaded from Democracy and the Policy Preferences of Wealthy Americans
To those who are familiar with right versus left, or conservative versus progressive, it appears that the wealthy in America are very conservative. The degree of conservatism is particularly exceptional since some of the inclinations of the general public are already conservative compared to other countries. The difference between the wealthy and the general public on the specific issue of whether "the federal government should spend whatever is necessary to ensure that all children have really good public schools they can go to" is especially striking. 87 percent of the general public is in favor while 65 percent of the wealthy are not.

Looking at the Philippines one may raise a similar question of how different the perspectives are between the rich and the general public. Filipinos who have immigrated to the United States generally gravitate towards the conservative side. And it is very likely that the rich in the Philippines would embrace similar views as those of wealthy Americans. This would be especially troublesome in a country where the marginalized does not really have that much influence on government policies. In part, this may explain why it would be particularly difficult for the Philippines to emulate countries that have been successful in basic education like Finland, Singapore and Korea. The required six percent of Gross Domestic Product to reach the minimum resources needed to support public basic education is an unreachable dream when the primary movers of government policy do not subscribe to the ideal that the "government must spend whatever is necessary to ensure that all children have really good public schools they can go to".





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