Home > Uncategorized > University of Virginia Economist’s Theories Predate Powell Manifesto… May Be TRUE Roots of Privatization

University of Virginia Economist’s Theories Predate Powell Manifesto… May Be TRUE Roots of Privatization

Last Friday Diane Ravitch wrote a a post on the creeping privatization on public schools that elicited a comment from Kim Kaufman that, in turn, included a set of links including this one to a Truthdig article written by Nancy MacLean, whose recently published a book titled Democracy in Chains, a Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America. Ms. MacLean’s premise is that the privatization movement sweeping the nation today had it roots at the University of Virginia in the 1950s when then college President Colgate Whitehead Darden Jr. found the funding needed to underwrite a center that would be led by libertarian economist James McGill Buchanan, a Milton Friedman acolyte.

While Ms. MacLean makes a compelling case for Mr. Buchanan’s influence, I still think the so-called “Powell Manifesto” triggered what we are encountering today. It legitimized the privatization and voucher movements by engaging the business community and avoiding any stain that might be associated with opposing integration. Moreover, it appears to me that Mr. Buchanan, like Milton Friedman, was more animated by libertarian economic theory and his faith-in-the-free-market than racism. Ultimately, though, it doesn’t matter if these economists baed their advocacy for privatization of public agencies on the free market.  Their ideas were expropriated by racists in the 1950s and 60s and have reinforced racial and economic divisions ever since. For the GOP, it appears the race issue doesn’t faze them… for if it did they would find a way to make the market place correct for the continuing injustices.

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