Harold Meyerson points out what many would consider obvious:
>Just outside our nation’s capital, in affluent Montgomery and Fairfax counties, they still build public schools when the number of school-age children rises above the number that the existing schools can accommodate. Beyond question, there are parents in Fairfax and Montgomery who could easily afford to send their kids to private schools but who send them nonetheless to the excellent public schools in their neighborhoods . They thus increase government spending and withhold revenue from the private-school industry, but I’ve never heard anyone complain about that. A free public education is a right, or, if you prefer, an entitlement in America, because the nation long ago decided that an educated population is a national good.
Of course many wouldn’t consider it obvious, say, for instance, George Will:
>Unless facts are allowed to intrude, in which case it will be pointed out that what the Democrats are doing is taking a program aimed at poor children and turning it into a huge ever-expanding middle class entitlement program for, if Governor Spitzer in New York has his way, people, children up to say 25 years old from households with incomes of $82,000. Now, the guy sitting next to you at the bar at the plaza with a mustache sipping a vodka martini may be on that program for poor children.
Outside of knee jerk conservatism (“I don’t trust nothing new”), what principle could one invoke for offering school equally and to all (in principle–no bad school complaints please) but not health, the more basic and necessary condition for vigorous democratic and economic participation? But rather than thinking of reasons not to offer that particular (to my mind) obvious and rational “entitlement” (which is a silly word), can anyone think of another “entitlement” Meyerson’s principle could be understood to justify?