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Privatize it: Schools

Recently Tucker Carlson, who used to have a show on MSNBC before they purged their staff of non believers, did a documentary on public schools for Fox News.  (Here are some notes on that link: 1. The site it’s on has an interesting name, I don’t know anything about them, they were simply the first site to show up when I searched for the video.  2. The whole thing is worth watching but if you’re strapped for time watch from 15:00 to 21:00 to get the gist of what I’m about to discuss.  Also, there is a short blurb written by Tucker below the video that gives the general idea.  3.  The sound and video are a little off….oh well)

Let me say up front that I’m not trying to argue with the decision made by the school board here.  You see the libertarian ethic has nothing to do with whether or not children read books about gay penguins.  It has everything to do with who decides whether they read these books.  This is what the left means when they talk about “democracy.”  5 people on a board make a decision and impose it on the entire public.  If you have an opinion about what your children should learn in school the only thing you can do about it is go down to their meeting and try to convince three out of the five to agree with you and impose your view on everyone instead of someone else’s. 

Aside: Yesterday, I was at the park smoking a cigar and some guy who had been sitting about fifty feet away (and up wind I might add) came over and told me to move because he could smell it and he didn’t like it and “he was there first.”  You see he goes there for the “fresh air” (we were about a hundred yards from a freeway).  But I go there because people like him made it illegal to smoke in a bar or a restaurant or anywhere outside on the campus where I work.  Anyway I digress.  I moved (which I now regret, I should have told him to screw off).  But later another guy went to where I was and started smoking a cigarette.  Not surprisingly most of the people you see in the park are smoking, progressives don’t get that this is a forseeable consequence of making it illegal everywhere else because they don’t understand economics.  Anyway, the same guy came and told that guy to go away so me and him got talking and it turned out he was from Poland and he said it was also illegal everywhere in Poland.  It actually seemed worse there than here.  And I said “that’s weird I thought everyone over there smoked.”  And he said “they do!”  So I said “so did they vote on that or what?” To which he replied “no, the city council did it.”……democracy.  By the way, remember this non-smoking campaign?  Oh they didn’t teach you that in school?  What a surprise….

OK, so back to schools.  I happen to think that progressives have been using the public schools to indoctrinate children for decades and I think that’s incredibly destructive to society.  Recently we’ve seen some pushback against this in Texas.  But if you’re to the left of me, you probably see things differently.  You probably think that the founders really were atheists, Christopher Columbus was a horrible person, believing in God is a ridiculous delusion, Woodrow Wilson and FDR were great presidents, etc. (I could go on for days but you get the point) and that crazy right-wing conservatives are taking over the school curriculum and corrupting your kids.

We can argue about this forever.  The thing we need to realize is that this is the natural result of collectivism.  Everyone is never going to agree about what children should learn in school.  When you make the school system public, you make this decision a collective one.  In other words, everyone gets the same thing.  This requires some system for making a collective decision when people don’t agree.  These systems are basically all called “democratic” by those on the left. 

The yardstick used by the left to evaluate a decision is the degree to which it conforms to the desires of the majority.  This is what they mean by “democratic.”  Imposing a system on someone is perfectly morally acceptable as long as it’s imposed by the majority.  Therefore, every moral debate is over what the majority wants.  In other words it is not about whether or not the government should have the ability to impose a given policy on anyone.

Public schools are the perfect example of this.  They have gotten us to accept the premise that the government has to run schools and this creates an environment where we have to argue about what they should teach.  But isn’t there another way? 

Obviously there is.  You could not have the government involved in schools at all.  If this were the case, everyone would be able to choose a school they were comfortable with.  Schools would have to compete with each other and this would mean the best schools would survive and the worst would not.  If you wanted a school that taught evolution and not creation you could choose one.  If you wanted creation and not evolution you could choose one.  If you wanted both to be presented in whatever you consider an “unbiased” way, you could choose one.  There would be no need for us to argue about it!  There would be no need for “democracy.”

The biggest problem people seem to have with this scenario is that people will make poor decisions about what their children should learn and we might all become “flat-Earthers.”  But which system is more likely to evolve in the direction of truth, one where a central authority makes decisions about curriculum based on some combination of majority sentiment and personal political motivation, or one where every individual chooses their own path?

In order to believe that the former is desirable, you have to believe two things which I think are highly doubtful.  First, you must believe that the politicians on some board who are motivated by politics will make better decisions than parents who are motivated by the interests of their own children.  Second you have to believe that people will continue making poor decisions even though they lead to bad outcomes.  It is precisely because they know that the opposite is true that they need a socialized education system (and healthcare system, etc.).

Imagine two salesmen come to town.  One is selling a blue pill that they claim will make you prosperous and happy your whole life and the other is selling a red pill that they claim will make you happy and prosperous your whole life.  They both claim that the other man’s pill will actually make you ignorant and unproductive and lead you into a life of slavery and depravity.  Now imagine that one of these men proposes that the whole town take a vote and decide which pill to take and then force every member to take that pill forever.   The other proposes that everyone be free to try whichever pill they want and switch whenever they please.  Which one is selling truth?

By the way, if we didn’t have public schools we wouldn’t have all these problems with teacher’s pensions and tenure and so forth.

Update: Here’s an interesting quote from Rules for Radicals which should be kept in mind when listening to leftists speak of democracy. 

Lenin was a pragmatist; when he returned to what was then Petrograd from exile, he said that the Bolsheviks stood for getting power through the ballot but would reconsider after they got the guns!

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