Archive for August, 2006

Americans are we upright?

August 31, 2006

Stolen from the Patriot Post

“Americans need a little more patience and Iraqis a little less. That’s the judgment of Gen. John Abizaid… ‘Our problem is to give up some control. The Iraqi problem is to take control,’ says Abizaid, who as head of Central Command has overall responsibility for U.S. forces here. He says Americans shouldn’t think of the transition as a straight line—’as they stand up, we stand down’ —but as a process of gradual stabilization.” —David Ignatius

“Somehow, despite contrary facts that are palpably clear in the historic record, [American and European leaders] have managed to convince themselves and the world that the most terrible wars of the 20th century occurred because nations didn’t do enough talking to resolve their differences [when in] fact, they occurred because shortsighted, peace-minded leaders allow[ed] good intentions and wishful thinking to take the place of an accurate assessment of the identity and intentions of their adversaries.” —Alan Keyes

I read these things and have to wonder.  What, I ask, has happened to America, to it’s people? This nation has forsaken the very things upon which it was founded. What happened to Sua Sponte in your face action by Americans when they know quite well that something is just plain wrong.

Is it just “political correctness?” Is it some desire to be accepted by other nations and peoples? Is it plain old fashioned cowardliness disguised as being more civilized, like a set of the emperors new clothes? Is it some sort of new morality that all of us must kow tao too in order to feel as though we are civilized and better than those that would stand proud and defend our beliefs?

This American will place his faith in a Winchester well before I would any diplomat. That, based upon “misfire” rates, if nothing else.

Freedom vs. Unlimited Majority Rule

August 24, 2006

Freedom vs. Unlimited Majority Rule 

The concept of freedom rests on a government limited to the protection of individual rights, while the concept of democracy rests on a government run by unlimited majority rule; we need to stop confusing these two opposite ideas. 

By Peter Schwartz 

America’s foreign policy has led to a bizarre contradiction. President Bush claims to be pursuing freedom in the world, so that Americans will be safer. Yet this campaign’s results–a more zealous proponent of terrorism in the Palestinian Authority, and the prospect of theocracy in Iraq–are posing even greater threats to us. 

The cause of this failure is Mr. Bush’s hopeless view that tyranny is reversed by the holding of elections–a view stemming from the widespread confusion between freedom and democracy. 

Ask a typical American if there should be limits on what government may do, and he would answer: yes. He understands that each of us has rights which no law–regardless of how much public support it happens to attract–is entitled to breach. An advocate of democracy, however, would answer: no. 

The essence of democracy is unlimited majority rule. It is the notion that the government should not be constrained, as long as its behavior is sanctioned by majority vote. It is the notion that the function of government is to implement the “will of the people.” It is the notion we are espousing when we tell the Iraqis, the Palestinians and the Afghanis that the legitimacy of their new governments rests essentially on their being democratically approved.  

And it is the notion that was repudiated by the founding of the United States. 

America’s defining characteristic is freedom. Freedom exists when there are limitations on government, limitations imposed by the principle of individual rights. America was established as a republic, under which government is restricted to protecting our inalienable rights; this should not be called “democracy.” Thus, you are free to criticize your neighbors, your society, your government–no matter how many people wish to pass a law censoring you. But if “popular will” is the standard, then the individual has no rights–only temporary privileges, granted or withdrawn according to the mass sentiment of the moment. The Founders understood that the tyranny of the majority could be just as evil as the tyranny of an absolute monarch. 

Yes, we have the ability to vote, but that is not the yardstick by which freedom is measured. After all, even dictatorships hold official elections. It is only the context of liberty–in which individual rights may not be voted out of existence–that justifies, and gives meaning to, the ballot box. In a genuinely free country, voting pertains only to the particular means of safeguarding individual rights. There is no moral “right” to vote to destroy rights. 

Unfortunately, like Mr. Bush, most Americans use the antithetical concepts of “freedom” and “democracy” interchangeably. Sometimes our government upholds the primacy of individual rights and regards one’s life, liberty and property as inviolable. Many other times it negates rights by upholding the primacy of the majority’s wishes–from confiscating an individual’s property because the majority wants it for “public use,” to preventing a terminally ill individual from gaining assistance in ending his life because a majority finds suicide unpalatable. 

Today, our foreign policy upholds this latter position. We declare that our overriding goal in the Mideast is that people vote–regardless of whether they care about freedom. But then, if a Shiite, pro-Iranian majority imposes its theology on Iraq–or if Palestinian suicide-bombers execute their popular mandate by blowing up schoolchildren–on what basis can we object, since democracy is being faithfully served? As a spokesman for Hamas, following its electoral victory, correctly noted: “I thank the United States that they have given us this weapon of democracy. . . . It’s not possible for the U.S. . . . to turn its back on an elected democracy.” The Palestinians abhor freedom–but have adopted democratic voting.  

The Iraqis may reject freedom, in which case military force alone–as dismally inadequate as our efforts in that realm have been so far–will have to ensure our safety against any threats from them.  But if we are going to try to replace tyranny with freedom there, we must at least demonstrate what freedom is. We should have been spreading the ideas and institutions of a free society, before allowing elections even to be considered. For example, we should have written the new constitution, as we did in post-WWII Japan. Instead, we deferred to the “will of the people”–people who do not understand individual rights–and endorsed a despotic constitution, which rejects intellectual freedom in favor of enforced obedience to the Koran, and which rejects economic freedom and private property in favor of “collective ownership.” The consequence: looming neo-tyranny in Iraq. 

We need to stop confusing democracy with freedom. Morally supporting freedom is always in our interests. But supporting unlimited majority rule is always destructive–to us, and to all who value the rights of the individual. 

Peter Schwartz is a Distinguished Fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute (http://www.aynrand.org/) in Irvine, California. The Institute promotes Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand–author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. 

[b]I received that in an email/newsletter. Seems like a windy way of repeating what Franklin said about “Two wolves and a lamb deciding on dinner.” Could this be a root part of the contemporary problem here in the United States? Have we unknowingly slipped from a  representative republic into the morass of unfettered democracy?[/b] 

My own feelings are that the politicians ( with but a notable handful of rebels) have taken the nation to it’s very knees.  

There has been, in my opinion, a veritable silent revolution going on for decades, if not longer. Rampant feminism (political not ethical) has twisted the entire concept of life and liberty. The authoritarians within our society have issued blanket pronunciations that require one and all to conform to their ideas of so-called freedom. Those chicken littles that so love the earth more than their own children have strangled innovation to the point of causing serious gaps in national security. The resultant collective guilt of the populace has resulted in a lack of national pride that turns us against our own with subdued viciousness. 

I believe that the sole purpose of any government is to ensure the rights of the individual and that all legitimate uses of government power derives from that  basic sense of purposiveness. Hence the necessity of law, military forces and so on. 

I believe in opportunity for all through ones own resourcefulness, not by government fiat. I believe that in free markets the source of wealth can be found. 

I believe that the Constitution of these United States is the expression of the Declaration of Independence and that the concepts within have never changed, or left. Only the twisted interpetations of certain lawyers and politicians with the express purpose of personal gain. That the rights granted within the Constitution are inalieanable rights, that is God given, and cannot be subrogated by any man, or group of men.

So much for so-called “Living Constitutions” and the Declaration of Independence!

Americans do not have to kiss butt to anyone, or anything.

Stereotyping

August 24, 2006

Stereotyping Defended

by Ninos Malek

[Posted on Thursday, August 24, 2006]
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Most people feel that stereotyping is wrong and unfair.

Why should one person be affected by the actions or qualities of the rest of his or her demographic? Of course, people are individuals with their own moral values (or lack of), intelligence, and talents. Stereotyping is, however, a method that people use, consciously or subconsciously, as an efficient way of economizing on information costs.

For example, if somebody offered you $1 million to solve a complex mathematical problem and, furthermore, you could choose anybody on a university campus to help you, I doubt you would choose the Paris Hilton–type sorority girl or the Abercrombie and Fitch–wearing fraternity boy. Now consider the young man wearing glasses and a pocket protector in his short-sleeve, button-down shirt: would you not think that he is a better bet?

If you were a soccer coach and had to draft a player for your team and the only information you had was that Player A is from Brazil and Player B is from the United States, who would you choose?

Finally, assume that you are walking down the street and you have only two choices — either walk on the left side of the street or the right side of the street. Before you choose, you notice that on the left side there are ten tattooed, muscular men with shaved heads walking and talking together, while on the right side you see ten “clean-cut” men wearing dress shirts and ties carrying Bibles. Now, what would you do?

If you chose the “nerdy” student with the pocket protector in the first scenario, the Brazilian player in the second scenario, and the right side of the street in the third scenario, are you being immoral or “prejudiced”? In fact, what does the word “prejudice” really mean? One of the definitions that is normally overlooked is “a preconceived preference or idea.” In other words, prejudice simply means pre-judging.

Of course you may not be correct in your judgment, and your later judgments will be affected by the success or failure of the accuracy of your forecasts. But the alternative is to use a completely random basis on which to make pre-judgments, which is very silly and probably impossible.

In his article “Non Politically Correct Thinking”, my former professor and economist Dr. Walter Williams argued

“… that going to the word’s Latin root, to pre-judge simply means: making decisions on the basis of incomplete information. Here’s an example. Suppose leaving your workplace you see a full-grown tiger standing outside the door. Most people would endeavor to leave the area in great dispatch. That prediction isn’t all that interesting but the question is why. Is your decision to run based on any detailed information about that particular tiger or is it based on tiger folklore and how you’ve seen other tigers behaving? It’s probably the latter. You simply pre-judge that tiger; you stereotype him. If you didn’t pre-judge and stereotype that tiger, you’d endeavor to obtain more information, like petting him on the head and doing other friendly things to determine whether he’s dangerous. Most people quickly calculate that the likely cost of an additional unit of information about the tiger exceeded any benefit and wouldn’t bother to seek additional information. In other words, all they need to know is he’s a tiger.”

Acquiring information is costly. Moreover, we assume that rational people economize. As beings who want to get the “biggest bang for their buck,” people will apply this rational behavior to information as well. Assuming that I am that person who, when he sees a tiger running at him, gets scared and tries to run to safety, am I being unfair or prejudiced? If I hear there is a murderer in my neighborhood, am I prejudiced if I start looking around the neighborhood for a suspicious looking male rather than a female?

This topic of course has implications when it comes to social policy. After 9/11, the Transportation Security Administration agents at airports, to show that they were impartial, would pull aside old ladies and little children to make sure that they were not carrying dangerous items that could lead to terrorism.

I can recall that one time when I was traveling, a TSA agent pulled aside a young blonde girl for additional screening rather than checking the adult men that were going on that flight. Did it make me feel safer to know that politics and not security was foremost on the mind of the screeners? Not particularly.

Providing security requires the use of scarce means. In a world of imperfect knowledge, economizing on information is a tool that should not have to be defended.

In another important area, government’s interventionist policies in the labor market can make the bad kind of discrimination we normally think about more prevalent. For example, European Union countries have very strict laws on firing people compared to the United States. Because of this, it is more costly for a firm to hire somebody.

Now, if I am an employer and I know that I am stuck with a worker once I hire him, don’t you think I will be more likely to economize on information (i.e., discriminate) before I hire him? Conversely, in a free-market, I will be more likely to take a risk on somebody and give him a chance (and not indulge my initial “prejudices”) because I know if he ends up being a poor selection, I can easily fire him. Those who advocate “fair labor laws” had better be careful what they ask for.

The poster: $10

Economics affects our everyday lives. Economics can be viewed as the study of individual human actors making choices. Of course, people should not be rude to others based on looks, race, or gender. I also know that there are a lot of ignorant, mean-spirited people who assume things about others that are completely baseless. But in the market economy, they also pay a price for being wrong.

Let us remember that we live in a world of scarcity, that economizing on information can be efficient, and that sometimes the reason stereotypes exist is because, well, they’re true.

By the way, I am half-Hispanic and half-Middle Eastern. I am not your “stereotypical” WASP — but I’m sure you didn’t think that while reading my article … right?


Ninos Malek is a graduate student in the Economics Department at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Send him mail. Comment on the blog.I think that this makes a pretty good case for some stereotyping/profiling.

Gun Rights

August 24, 2006

http://www.gunowners.org
Mar 2006

Who Is GOA?

Gun Owners of America (GOA) is a non-profit lobbying organization formed in 1975 to preserve and defend the Second Amendment rights of gun owners. GOA sees firearms ownership as a freedom issue.

GOA was founded in 1975 by Sen. H.L. (Bill) Richardson (now retired). Richardson continues to serve as the Chairman of Gun Owners of America, bringing his many years of political experience to the leadership of GOA. Richardson is also an avid hunter and outdoorsman.

The GOA Board of Directors brings over 100 years of combined knowledge and experience on guns, legislation and politics. GOA’s Board is not satisfied with the “status quo.” Americans have lost some of our precious gun rights and WE WANT THEM BACK! This is why GOA is considered the “no compromise” gun lobby.

From state legislatures and city councils to the United States Congress and the White House, GOA represents the views of gun owners whenever their rights are threatened.

GOA has never wavered from its mission to defend the Second Amendment — liberty’s freedom teeth, as George Washington called it.

Over the last 30 years, GOA has built a nationwide network of attorneys to help fight court battles in almost every state in the nation to protect gun owner rights. GOA staff and attorneys have also worked with members of Congress, state legislators and local citizens to protect gun ranges and local gun clubs from closure by overzealous government anti-gun bureaucrats.

As an example, GOA fought for and won, the right of gun owners to sue and recover damages from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) for harassment and unlawful seizure of firearms.

Associated with GOA are: Gun Owners of America Political Victory Fund, Gun Owners of California and Gun Owners Foundation.

Gun Owners of America Political Victory Fund is the political action arm of GOA. It raises funds to support the election of pro-gun candidates at all levels of government. GOA has a record of helping pro-gun candidates defeat anti-gunners in hundreds of races across the country over the past 30 years, and will continue to do so as long as our supporters provide the necessary financial resources.

Gun Owners of California operates solely within California, where it was also founded by Senator Richardson to address the pivotal gun issues arising in that state.

Gun Owners Foundation is a non-profit, tax-deductible education foundation. It is the research arm of GOA. Among the activities sponsored by GOF are seminars which inform the public, the media and government officials about key issues affecting the Second Amendment. GOF also publishes books and articles concerning gun issues as they affect people throughout the world.

Strength comes with numbers, and the more concerned Americans join Gun Owners of America, the more we can do to protect the Second Amendment and our freedom. We need you! Shouldn’t you become a member of Gun Owners of America? Join here.



Copyright, Contact and Credits

Stem Cells

August 24, 2006

Ayn Rand Institute Press Release
http://www.aynrand.org/
Stem Cell Breakthrough Won’t Satisfy Religious Conservatives
August 24, 2006
 
Irvine, CA–”The researchers at Advanced Cell Technology should be congratulated for their scientific breakthrough,” said Dr. Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute. “But their new method of creating stem cell lines will not stop religious opposition to scientific progress.”

In developing a method of extracting embryonic stem cells without destroying the embryo, the team was, in part, trying to address the concerns of those opposed to the destruction of embryos. As the team leader said: “There is no rational reason left to oppose this research.”

“But there has never been a rational reason to oppose embryonic stem cell research,” said Dr. Brook. “The opposition comes mainly from religious conservatives and is–by their own declaration–based on faith, not on reason. It is based on the irrational belief that a mere clump of cells is a full-fledged human being.”

“There is no rational reason to morally oppose this research, and its potential to produce treatments for such diseases as diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s is ample reason to morally support it.

“It is a mistake to try to appease religious conservatives on this issue. What they are opposed to, fundamentally, is science as such.”

My comments follow, the above came through bold-ed;

I happen to disagree. As a former member of Libertarians for Life I happen to believe that life begins at conception, and that destroying said life is akin to murder. Yes, I am well aware that most of our medical knowledge having to do with hypothermia comes from Nazi experimentation. Ethically, I am a Kantian, not Utilitarian. The ends do not justify the means.

Further, the author severely discounts, or ignores that those very same stem cells can be harvested from umbilical cord blood without killing any life form that could become a human being. Other stem cells taken from adults have actually led to more breakthroughs than embryonic cell studies have in any case.

I truly expect better argumentation from a top of the line Libertarian think tank, not to even mention an Objectivist one.

Hating WalMart

August 24, 2006

“Imagine a private group that pays billions in taxes, creates millions of jobs and sells things at ultra-low prices. Too good to be true? It’s called Wal-Mart—and Democrats, for some reason, want to kill it off… This is all part of a recent trend among Democratic politicians using Wal-Mart as a foil to ingratiate themselves with middle-class voters. This may be good politics. We don’t know. But those who participate in such Wal-Mart-bashing reveal themselves to be economic illiterates of the most dangerous sort… A study by economic consultant Global Insight found that, from 1985 to 2004, Wal-Mart slashed food-at-home prices by 9.1%, goods prices by 4.2% and overall consumer prices by 3.1%. If those cuts don’t sound huge, consider that, all told, they saved mostly poor and middle-class consumers $263 billion—or $895 per person and $2,329 per household. By now, of course, it’s become obvious that Democrats aren’t so much anti-Wal-Mart as they are pro-organized labor… Yet despite unions’ widely disseminated claims, the wages that Wal-Mart pays its employees are competitive. In 2004, Global Insight found that the average wage nationwide for jobs equivalent to Wal-Mart’s was $8.46 an hour. Wal-Mart paid $9.17. Put bluntly, the war against Wal-Mart Stores is a war against the poor, and it’s shocking to watch a major political party carry it out… A Zogby Poll…found that 85% of frequent Wal-Mart shoppers pulled the lever for President Bush in 2004, and that 88% of people who never shop there voted for John Kerry. Maybe the split in this country isn’t so much red state versus blue, but Wal-Mart vs. non-Wal-Mart. And since 20% of Americans are Wal-Mart shoppers, Democrats might think twice before alienating them any more than they have so far.” —Investor’s Business Daily

Wal-Mart haters are patently anti Free Markets. Free markets result in liberty and freedom. Communism/Socialism results in social oppression including putting a clamp on free markets. Someday perhaps the masses will understand this fact. Since looking at history is not apparently up to the task, I will not be holding my breath for it to happen.

Gun Sales Rise as Crime and Accident Rates Fall

August 24, 2006

Yellow Ribbons, tattered flags…

August 22, 2006

Legion post in Craig takes heroic name

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CRAIG – Each morning her husband spent in Iraq, Sherri Lawton walked out to the fence on the family ranch in Hayden and placed a miniature American flag on a fence post – one flag for every day Mark Lawton was gone.The day she learned about the ambush that killed him, she went out and took down the tiny flag – at first, she had thought there was no reason to continue. Then she realized she couldn’t stop.

For hundreds of days, the widow continued to put out flags and yellow ribbons for the soldiers who remained overseas and only stopped after the men and women of the 244th Engineer Battalion – all but one of them – finally came home.

Monday morning – nearly three years after her husband was killed – she went down the county road near the fields where her husband used to run track and ride horses, near the place where he worked at the coal mine, past the Loaf ‘N Jug, toward the new American Legion post.

For more than a mile, the county road was lined with American flags. This time, the flags were all for Mark Lawton.

This time, the unit was there to meet her.

“Mark Anthony Evans-Lawton American Legion Post 62,” she read as she arrived at the freshly painted building. Then she walked into the arms of one of the last men to see her husband alive.

“It’s good to see you,” she said as she pressed her face into the uniform of Sgt. Kenneth Favorite of Grand Junction. “I’m glad you came.”

“I wouldn’t have missed it,” he said.

Scenes they can’t forget

Hundreds of residents from throughout northern Colorado joined dozens of soldiers from around the country as they assembled to remember the first Army reservist from Colorado killed during the war in Iraq, in the place that now bears his name.

Inside the wood-paneled building in the small town where he graduated from high school, Lawton’s comrades looked at the pictures of him in Iraq and thought back to the scenes they can’t forget.

They remembered the push-ups they endured beneath his barking commands – the punishments that, more often than not, they now realize made them better soldiers. Under the pictures of the man in the cowboy hat they still call “an absolute hard-ass,” they told stories of how they saw the 41-year-old former Marine late at night, writing letters to his wife.

They talked about his choice to go to Iraq – he could have gotten out of the assignment, but as a veteran of the first Gulf War, he felt he had something to teach.

“As more soldiers die in Iraq, I think sometimes individuals can get lost in the numbers,” said Sgt. First Class Dianna Leinberger. “And he’s still an individual – with a wife and two kids. And a community. He’s not just a number.”

‘Still in our hearts’

Most of the members of the 244th took the day off from their civilian jobs throughout Colorado – where they work as carpenters, police officers, oil field workers, students and corporate middle managers – and drove for hours with their families to support the family they promised not to leave behind.

Some still carry shrapnel from the wounds of the attack that took Lawton’s life. A few are already back in Iraq.

“It’s a great honor to show that he’s still in our hearts – and that his loss is still a loss,” said Leinberger, Lawton’s platoon commander, who flew in from Alaska to lead the color guard at the ceremony.

As part of the dedication, soldiers from Fort Carson brought heavy equipment used by the engineers in Iraq, the Colorado Air National Guard provided a helicopter flyover, and more than 60 motorcyclists from the American Legion Riders stopped by on their way from Indianapolis to Salt Lake City – as part of a ride to raise money for the Legacy Fund, a scholarship for children of fallen soldiers.

“You’re a good post,” said Ralph Bozella, Colorado commander of the American Legion, during the dedication. “Now you’re going to have to be a better post. Because you’re going to have to live up to that name.”

At a picnic lunch outside, Robb Smith, who was Lawton’s first sergeant in Iraq, looked at Lawton’s two boys – Tanner, 4, and Dustin, 7 – and then looked at his own little girl.

“You kind of adopt those kids, too,” he said. “In your mind and in your heart. Every father has to deal with that. It is really tough.”

While the troops were stationed overseas, Sherri Lawton continued to write them and send care packages. Before she and her family left Colorado to move to Missouri last year, she had one more package to send.

When the envelopes arrived at the soldiers’ homes, they contained a tattered yellow ribbon, and a small, faded American flag that once flew over a fence post.

“It’s all weathered, it’s a bit worn,” Robb Smith said. “But it means more than anything else.”

How to help

To contribute to the fund for scholarships of fallen service members, send donations to American Legion National Headquarters, attn: Legacy Fund. 700 N. Pennsylvania Indianapolis, Id. 46204

or 303-954-2561.

I often hunt in the Craig area. It is a tough land. It grows tough men. Men tough enough to publicly shed tears for fallen brothers.

Emergencies

August 22, 2006

Stolen from the Patriot Post Volume 6 #34

“Every collectivist revolution rides in on a Trojan horse of ‘emergency’. It was the tactic of Lenin, Hitler, and Mussolini. In the collectivist sweep over a dozen minor countries of Europe, it was the cry of men striving to get on horseback. And ‘emergency’ became the justification of the subsequent steps. This technique of creating emergency is the greatest achievement that demagoguery attains.” —Herbert Hoover

Think about it. How many “emergencies” are behind the laws that have been passed, and are being passed in these United States?

I will coin a term here that I will use as applied to this sort of thing; “Emergency thinking.”

Emergency thinking drives the Gun Control debate, never mind that it is driven by victims of hopolophobia. Never mind that firearms have saved many more lives than all the gun control laws on the books in every country on earth. It was firearms that destroyed the Nazi regime and made the world safe from Hitler and Mussolini’s Fascist’s.

Emergency thinking all to often drives the “need” for higher taxes. An emergency demands more money for education, roads, public transportation, jails to house miscreants or prisons to house those that desperately need to be separated from society.

Emergencies drive the need to protect others from themselves. Higher taxes on tobacco products. Higher taxes on alcohol. Higher taxes to hunt and fish disguised as license fees.

Emergencies drive the need to increase the pay of government officials so that the best of the best will “serve the public,” and not retire to the private sector and earn a living in social competition like the rest of us.

Emergency thinking has become the norm. Few have the courage and determination to require of themselves the ability to care for themselves. They rely on government to take care of them from cradle to grave. How many actually do time serving our nation as a percentage of the population? How many become members of the Military, or the Fire Service, Emergency Medical Services, or Law Enforcement either as a career or by volunteering? How many fail even to vote?

Great Idea Gone Bad

August 20, 2006

Enterprising Education: Doing Away with the Public School System

by Walter Block and Andrew Young

[Posted on Saturday, August 19, 2006]
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Besides national defense, no government-provided service enjoys as much exemption from scrutiny as the provision and subsidization of primary public education. Even presumed champions of the free market, such as Milton Friedman, support the government subsidization of education through high school:

We have always been proud, and with good reason, of the widespread availability of schooling to all and the role that public schooling has played in fostering the assimilation of newcomers into our society, preventing fragmentation and divisiveness, and enabling people from different cultural and religious backgrounds to live together in harmony. (Friedman and Friedman, 1979, pp. 140–141)

The very suggestion that government should be removed entirely from the realm of education is either taken as irrational and malicious or viewed as foolhardy and quixotic. This seems very peculiar when considering that the critics of the present state of public education appear on both sides of the political spectrum. Still, the overwhelming sentiment, ubiquitous in both the general citizenry and academia, is that while public education may need to be reformed, it still should be guaranteed “free” to all by government.

Education, like any other service, cannot be provided more efficiently than via the market.

Contrary to most modern arguments claiming to favor the “privatization” of schools, we do not view the government contracting of private companies, the issuance of government vouchers for payment of education, or the direct subsidization of private institutions as free-market solutions.[1]

Indeed, the only free-market solution is the abolition of all governmental ties to primary education.

Education is a Service

Primary education — i.e., that which begins in grammar school and continues up through high school — is a service like any other and can be allocated through the market and the price system. Parents, in general, would like to provide education for their children. Teachers, administrators, and owners of school buildings will provide this service to these children as long as they are compensated for their labors. When a parent approaches an institute of learning, he values the service offered. The school, drawn into the industry by the desire for profit,[2] incurs costs in providing its service. It will only accept a price greater than or equal to these costs. Likewise, the parent will only offer to pay a price less than or equal to his valuation of the education rendered. If a price is determined that is satisfactory to both parties, an exchange will occur and the child will be provided with the service. In this straightforward way, familiar to every economist and intuitive to nearly everyone else, the market can provide primary education just as it provides hair styling, automotive repair, and the innumerable other services that people bargain to provide and receive.

Despite virtually omnipresent dogma, there is no simple explanation as to why government provision of primary education must be substituted for private alternatives.[3]

Education is a service, and innumerable services are being provided by the market at any given moment. For society to hold to, and tax from individuals the resources for, government provision of primary education, there must be a justification. If it can be satisfactorily articulated, then, and only then, would government provision of primary education be legitimate.

What are the arguments in favor of government-provided primary education?

They are as follows:

  1. It is a necessary aspect of democracy and, paradoxically, the citizenry must be taxed for that system to secure their own freedom.
  2. The market would not provide an equal opportunity for and quality of primary education to everyone.
  3. Education is an example of an external economy; market provision would therefore be under optimal.

Let us consider each.

Necessary to “Freedom”?

The view that primary education should be available to all through a public system has been made inseparable from the concept of a republican society over the years. Pierce (1964, pp. 3–4) provides a historical demonstration:

Herein originated a new concern for education expressed by Thomas Jefferson in his belief that people could not govern themselves successfully unless they were educated…. This concept has gone through several stages of evolution — from Jefferson’s idea that if people were to vote intelligently they must be educated as a means of survival in a world of competing ideologies.[4]

“Despite virtually omnipresent dogma, there is no simple explanation as to why government provision of primary education must be substituted for private alternatives.”

This view of education as catalyst for successful democratic government has metamorphosed through the passing of time into a view of education as a veritable necessary condition of freedom. For this expansion to occur, the meaning of freedom had to be modified. As Graham (1963, pp. 45–46) states, people might mistakenly, “interpret freedom in terms of their right to criticize and to choose their masters — the men for whom they work, the politicians who direct their public affairs, the newspapers, books, speeches, and television programs that influence their thinking.” But a more correct definition, “for a democratic society would recognize the need for authority in any social group and equate freedom with the right to participate in power” (Graham, 1963, pp. 45–46). To participate in the power (i.e., the representative nature of American government) citizens must have information, ergo to educate is a legitimate function of the state.[5]

This view of freedom is questionable though. Consider the view of liberty espoused by John Locke, one of, if not the, major philosophical influences of the American Revolution.

The Freedom then of Man and Liberty of acting according to his own Will, is grounded on his having Reason, which is able to instruct him in the Law he is to govern himself by, and make him Know how far he is left to the freedom of his own will (Locke, 1978, p. 3).

Freedom is based primarily upon man’s reason according to Locke. Because he possesses reason, man has the faculties and duty to rule himself. This Lockean concept of freedom was spread through early America in Cato’s Letters(Rothbard, 1978, p. 4). This concept of freedom was also that of John Stuart Mill, who wrote later on in the 19th century: “…the same reasons which show that opinions should be free, prove also that [an individual] should be allowed, without molestation, to carry his opinions into practice at his own cost” (Mill, 1956, p. 23).[6]

Furthermore, while a cultivated citizenry might be more capable of exercising its influence in a republican government, there is something perverse in the state itself educating the citizenry on how to operate the state.

As Lieberman (1989, p. 11) notes:

Simply stated, public choice theory asserts that the behavior of politicians and bureaucrats can be explained by the same principals that govern behavior in private economic affairs. In the latter, persons generally act so as to enhance their self interest…. [Public officials] act either to get reelected or to enhance their pay, perquisites, and status. If the purpose of providing public schooling is to create an informed citizenry capable of choosing those individuals who run the nation, then surely the power to determine what is taught and how should not be rested in the hands of the governing individuals.

As Boaz (1991, p. 19) observes: “Even in basic academic subjects there is a danger in having only one approach taught in all of the schools.” The state-monopolistic nature of a public school system fosters undesirable conformity of curricula. Williams (1978) correctly describes a public educational system as one which, “requires a collective decision on many attributes of [education],” and that education is offered to all, “whether or not [a parent] agrees with all the attributes or not.”[7] The individuals entrenched in positions of power in the state are those with control over what children are taught concerning history, government, economics, and so forth.

The result is a citizenry educated by operators of the state on how to choose the operators of the state!

Of course, those government agents who plan and direct the curricula are most likely well-intentioned people,[8]but, as Ludwig von Mises (1952, p. 47) correctly notes: “No planner is ever shrewd enough to consider the possibility that the plan which the government will put into practice could differ from his own plan.” In other words, no matter how much such a person sincerely plans in the interests of others, ultimately the plans are still his own.

Furthermore, it should be realized that, for all the talk about the noble ideals of Thomas Jefferson, the foundation of America’s government by the people, and the preservation of citizens’ “freedom,” the realization of public primary education in the United States was ushered in with quite ignoble motives. “[O]ne of the major motivations of the legion of mid nineteenth-century American “educational reformers” who established the modern public school system was precisely to use it to cripple the cultural and linguistic life of the waves of immigrants into America, and to mould them, as educational reformer Samuel Lewis stated, into “one people” (Rothbard, 1978, p. 125). Particular targets of the American educational reformation were the Germans and the Irish. Monroe (1940, p. 224) articulates, with disarming benignity, the attitude towards these waves of immigrants and the cultures which they brought to America:

More than a million and a half Irish and a similar number of Germans were added to the population. Great numbers of English and Welsh had also come, but the two former nationalities were sufficiently concentrated in location to cause their different racial temperaments and social customs to become new factors in our political, social, and economic life…. [These] elements as a whole made the educational problem more distinct, and by accentuating the tests to which our political and social structure must be subjected directed the attention of the native population to the significance of education.

Notice how the English and Welsh, with cultures more compatible with predominant American beliefs, are mentioned only in passing, while the more exotic Irish and Germans are elements to which “our political and social structure must be subjected,” creating an “educational problem.”

Further, the individual liberties that America granted to its citizens and “led men to object to all form of governmental restraint caused such excesses that the success of self government was seriously questioned. Much of the responsibility for this condition approaching anarchy was popularly attributed to the untrained and unbridled foreign element…” (Monroe, 1940, pp. 223 — 224). Immigrant culture was seen as a cancer on the United States society, incompatible with American liberty. Paradoxically, the solution which would allow immigrants to enjoy liberty was to deny them freedom of education and instead force them to pay for publi

“…but in order to justify state provision it must be shown that state provision indeed provides a more egalitarian and higher quality education to all.”

c schools whether or not they wanted to attend.

A study of problems with the existing school system by the Secretary of the Connecticut School Board in 1846 noted numerous defects: “The tenth defect was the existence of numerous private schools” (Monroe, 1940, p. 244). The existence of private schools was seen as especially troublesome with regards to the Irish Catholics. As Rothbard (1978, p. 125) writes: “It was the desire of the Anglo-Saxon majority to … smash the parochial school system of the Catholics.” Taxing indiscriminately for education, thus forcing those individuals who would opt for private education to pay twice (once in taxes, and again in tuition to the private school), was one method for discouraging private education. Even more blunt was the attempt in Oregon during 1920s to outlaw private schools (Rothbard, 1978, p. 126). A law was passed making private primary education illegal and compelling all children to attend public schools. Fortunately, in Pierce v. Society of Sisters (1925), the Supreme Court found the law to be unconstitutional.

[Continue reading this article online]

The original concepts behind public education, as espoused by Thomas Jefferson were indeed admirable. I happen to believe that public education is a very important part of what has made this nation great.

Indeed my girlfriend teaches Geography and mathmatics in public college.

That being said, it appears that someone along the way tossed out the baby with the bath water. Schools have become hotbeds for social commentary as a priority rather than a place to learn life skills and develop constructive criticism methodology.

Case in point; Scientific method used to have ten facets, now it has seven. They had to do that in order to justify the “soft sciences” such as sociology.

I also know of several families that have been dragged through hell because of things that schools reported to the police or Social Services and had their children children taken from them. Hugs turned into inappropriate touching, a swat on the bum viewed as what we used to call a “royal ass whipping.”

I think that the public school system is broken well beyond repair. Get rid of it.


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