Head Start Doesn’t Work—Therefore It Must, and Will Be, Continued

    Do not think about, write about or deal with  human behavior without determining the effects of incentives.

    When the people supporting the importance of education for the economy point out that poor nations have much better results than rich nations no one, apparently, sees the paradox. If poor nations do so well educationally, and education is so important for the economy, why are these nations poor? Let’s see them dance around that one.

    The hysteria about education is based on two really incorrect assumptions. The first is that education is vitally important to success in life. This is just patently untrue. The second, given the first, is that government can do the educating.

    Wherein we see that, having failed with education from 5 to 18, proponents of government everywhere insist that all will be well if only they could start earlier.

GET THIS: ‘Head Start’ Program Benefits are Gone by First Grade
David L. Goetsch

: “… who would take food out of the mouths of innocent little children.”

It would be difficult to argue against the federal government’s Head Start program from the perspective of good intentions. Who wouldn’t want to help poor children get a good start in school and life?  Unfortunately, good intentions don’t always translate into positive results, and this is certainly the case with Head Start.  In fact, it is widely known and accepted in Congress on both sides of the aisle that Head Start is a monumentally expensive failure.  Why then does the program continue to receive federal funding at a time when every dime that can be cut from the federal budget is a victory?  The answer is simple: fear.  There is hardly a member of Congress—Republican or Democrat—who is willing to be tarred and feathered by Head Start supporters as someone who would take food out of the mouths of innocent little children.


    In the analysis INTEND–IS–DOES, what is intended is always noble, it’s easy to intend Nirvana–the IS, what is done, can always be dressed up to look like “something is being done”–the DOES, what the program accomplishes, especially when evaluated by independent agents, is demonstrated to be useless. That never seems to stop them doing the same thing that failed many times based on the noble intentions. Damn the results, full speed ahead.

            The truth is that a federal bureaucracy has grown up around the Head Start program and federal bureaucrats—though sometimes inefficient and wasteful at doing their jobs—are quite skilled at keeping their jobs.  Once a federal bureaucracy is put in place, eliminating it is nearly impossible.  Even bureaucrats who know that the programs they administer do little or no good will defend them to the death because in defending their programs they are defending their careers, livelihoods, and retirement pensions.  And so another federal entitlement program continues year after tax-wasting year while achieving nothing in the way of results.  In the private sector, business leaders must show an acceptable return on investment. In government one need only show good intentions.


   “Sometimes inefficient and wasteful?” Because of the incentives in government they MUST ALWAYS BE INEFFICIENT AND WASTEFUL, that is what this blog is about. You can look it up  on this blog, almost anywhere.

            The stated goal of Head Start is school readiness.  The program attempts to take in poor children and give them a better start in school than they might otherwise get.  Sounds good, right? It would be if it actually worked. It doesn’t.   Here is what Steve Chapman had to say about Head Start in an article for Townhall: “A 2010 study for the Department of Health and Human Services concluded that though there were modest benefits to participating kids, they soon evaporated. The benefits of access to Head Start at age four are largely absent by first grade for the program population as whole.  For 3-year olds, there are few sustained benefits.” In other words, Head Start does not work no matter how good the intentions of its supporters might be.  The American taxpayer is shelling out more than $8 billion per year for a program that fails to achieve its stated goal.  In the private sector, this kind of result would get a CEO and a lot of other people fired.  In the federal government nobody even raises an eyebrow.

            I will not defend Head Start.  It is a feel-good program that should be eliminated.  But I will say that Head Start is hardly alone in its inefficiency and ineffectiveness.  According to David Muhlhausen, author of Do federal Programs Work?, the overwhelming majority of federal programs fail to achieve even a semblance of their stated goals.  Federally funded social programs cost more than $440 billion annually and this number is just increasing as Democrats plot and scheme to get more and more people addicted to government entitlements.   The federal treasury was never intended to be used as a slush fund for buying voter loyalty, but this is precisely what it has become as liberals wrap their nefarious strategy for staying in office in a cloak of good intentions and claim to be the party that cares about people.


    No one cares about effectiveness when there is no economic incentive to succeed.

            Barack Obama initiated a slick marketing campaign that has nearly tripled the number of people receiving food stamps.  The same thing is happening in most federal entitlement programs.  At the current rate of growth in entitlement programs, the portion of the population that receives at least part of its sustenance from the federal government—the 47 percent alluded to by Mitt Romney during his unsuccessful bid for the presidency—will soon exceed 50 percent.  With Barack Obama’s misguided and misnamed Affordable Care Act ensuring that the typical American worker will soon be a part-time employee, we are rushing head long toward the day when those who work in this country will no longer be able to support those who don’t.  This, by the way, is the inevitable result of statist/socialist programs.


   Learn to spell Death Spiral. As the government expands, the real economy contracts and all the pretending in the world will not change that.

     The only way to stop them wasting money is to give them less.

To order my novel, “Days of Songs and Mirrors: A Jacobite in the ‘45”, click here.

Government Job or Respect–Which’ll It Be?
Cheerio and ttfn,
Grant Coulson
Cui Bono–Cherchez les Contingencies


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