Wednesday, October 06, 2004


NOTE: This column by libertarian philosopher Tibor Machan originally appeared at "Tibor's Place on the Web" under the heading, "R. C.'s Nemesis-Again", but was subsequently taken down. I am reproducing it in full below:

The papers where most of my columns are published are owned by a company whose founder, R. C. Hoiles, had a particular dislike for what he called "government schools." These are, of course, all the public schools our children are coerced to attend-unless their parents or guardians are willing to accept the double jeopardy of paying for some private alternative that must also meet government requirements- and that all property owners must fund. And by "must" I mean if they do not , the law comes down on them good and hard.

Many, many people, of course, are so used to these government schools that to suggest that they are a bad idea is nearly sacrilege. Just like Europeans were used to public TV and radio until recently. Most of us attended these schools- more like indoctrination centers, actually- or our kids attend them just now. And they are "free," and it is where we can park the kids for most of the day, so we can go on earn a living or do other things while they linger there. How could anyone in his or her right mind question the value of such an institution?

Well, R. C. did, as do I. And, yes, I attended government high school and university myself, both in Europe and here. But does that really refute a skeptical stance toward this well entrenched part of our society? Even our radical, revolutionary Founders had urged something like universal public education- Thomas Jefferson, of all people, thought citizenship couldn't flourish without them. So, how could one object?

Well, in the spirit of consistency, I wish to argue that the Founders should not have advocated government schooling, not if they seriously meant what they approvingly wrote in the Declaration of Independence, namely, that we all have unalienable rights to our lives, liberties and pursuit of happiness. "Unalienable" means that whatever is so may never, under any circumstances, be lost or taken from us. To alienate is to make a stranger, to be divorced from. No one, by the words of the Declaration, can ever be divorced from his or her fundamental rights. And the Declaration was correct about that, given that no one has the authority to rule another person, no king, no politician, no one.

Now whenever government coerces parents to enroll their kids in school, public or private, this violates their unalienable right to liberty. As parents, it is they, not those in government, who have the responsibility to raise kids properly. It could be argued that totally depriving them from education is child neglect, but just when they should attend, just what curriculum they should follow, and all the other details are certainly not government business.

Having government impose education on kids is no different from having it impose a religion on them! There should, accordingly, be a total separation of state and education, as there is between state and church or press. (Oh, are you suggesting religion or the press is less important than schooling? Well, but that has rather drastic consequences, does it not?)

Then there is the matter of government extorting money from property owners so as to pay for this institution they unjustifiably have annexed from us all. If we are free, have an unalienable right to our liberty, surely this also means we may not be coerced into spending our resources against our will. Yet in this and innumerable other cases the government of this allegedly free country coerces citizens to spend resources not as they deem correct but as these government officials do.

Yes, some of this has majority support- or at least the support of some majority of voters at some point in US history, usually that of a minority of eligible voters and citizens. But even if 99% of the population approved of the coercion, it would be wrong. A free society accepts neither dictatorship of one person nor that of zillions of people. Dictatorship is out, period, even for what may well be for some cases a worthwhile purpose.

So, in fact, R. C. Hoiles was right. The American Founders, though a revolutionary bunch, had carried off but an incomplete revolution. Just as they didn't manage at first to abolish slavery, they also didn't manage to abolish another feudal institution, namely, taxation. Nor did they fully grasp that the government of a bona fide free society stays out of the business of how parents must raise their kids, barring making sure they are not abused. It is time that their revolution be made complete!


The cad!

"Philip Green, the retail billionaire, is planning to build the country's first fashion and retail academy in an attempt to "produce the next generation of entrepreneurs". The owner of Bhs, Top Shop and Miss Selfridge has donated 5 million to what would be the first specialist college to train 16- to 19-year-olds for a career in fashion retail. The college will train 200 school-leavers a year in marketing, finance and fashion buying and Mr Green - who recently tried to buy Marks & Spencer - hopes it will open for business in September 2005.

Mr Green, who left school at 16, said he had been driven to invest in the scheme by his difficulties in recruiting good staff for his own business. "We need to do something to produce the next generation of entrepreneurs," he said. Mr Green said it was often difficult to tell the difference between graduates and those who had left school with only A-levels. "If you ask a lot of these people why they went to university they don't really know. It's either because they think it's what you are supposed to do or because it gives them another three years before they have to go out to work. "If you get underneath it all some of it really defies logic. We take on A-level people and graduates who are three years older but are only earning 500 pounds more. That's quite scary given that it probably costs them 30,000 pounds or 40,000 pounds to get there.""

More here


For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL schools should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the poor and minimal regulation.

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