Not from the Onion

Here is a great letter written to several professor by Don Boudreaux:

It’s science.  (HT Caleb Brown)


1 February 2010

Professors Julian D. Marshall, Ryan D. Wilson, Katie L. Meyer, Santhosh K. Rajangam, Noreen C. McDonald, Elizabeth J. Wilson
Department of Civil Engineering
University of Minnesota
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55455

Dear Professors:

I just read your paper entitled “Vehicle Emissions during Children’s School Commuting: Impacts of Education Policy,” published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

In this paper you argue that increased school choice – by promoting more vehicular traffic – might have a detrimental impact on the environment.  As such, you suggest that policies to enhance school choice not be adopted unless and until they pass environmental muster.

Your insight is a real eye-opener, with implications far beyond the narrow issue of K-12 school choice!

For example, why limit your study to proposals for K-12 educational choice?  Too many young men and women who leave home to attend college surely commute too far – some actually going across the country! – thus poisoning everyone’s lungs in their selfish quest to attend the colleges of their choice.  Your research will likely discover that it’s best to prohibit Americans from attending colleges far from home.

And why stop with education?  Perhaps your next study can be on the environmental impact of supermarket choice.  After all, with people free to drive wherever they wish to buy groceries, it’s almost certainly the case that too many of us drive hither and yon unnecessarily, wasting our time and fouling the air.  I’ll bet that your research will show that restricting each American to shopping only at that supermarket nearest his or her home will reduce vehicular emissions and, hence, help the environment.

Indeed, the possibilities suggested by your research are infinite.  No telling how much filth is spit into our environment everyday by people needlessly driving to churches, restaurants, shopping malls, physicians’ offices, night clubs – even friends’ homes – when they could easily go to churches, restaurants, etc. – and even to the homes of friends – who are located closer to their where they live.

I look forward to reading your follow-up research.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030


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