In his latest column, libertarian law professor Richard Epstein sets his sights on Elizabeth Warren, a law professor who is running for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts as a Democrat against Scott Brown, the Republican incumbent. Professor Epstein takes apart Professor Warren's statement that "There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. You built a factory out there—good for you! But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn't have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did."
Writes Professor Epstein:
"You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate." Good grief! Her statement compresses so many errors into so few words that it is hard to know where to begin. Unbeknownst to Warren, most businesses engage extensively in the education of their employees, whether through on-the-job instruction or the financing of education through third parties. The one thing that can be said about these programs is that, in general, they are far more efficient than the endless public jobs programs, financed by taxpayers, which teach people skills they don't need for jobs that they can't acquire or retain. In addition, individuals and their families finance much of their own education, especially those who go onto higher education.
For public education, the countless employers in the labor market have paid at least their fair share in property taxes and income taxes to support the education of others, including the badly-run public loan subsidy programs with high rates of default. Warren then brands as freeloaders those productive individuals who, by orders of magnitude, pay more than their "fair" share of taxes, as if the anonymous public has mysteriously footed the entire bill.