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Bully Pulpit

The term "bully pulpit" stems from President Theodore Roosevelt's reference to the White House as a "bully pulpit," meaning a terrific platform from which to persuasively advocate an agenda. Roosevelt often used the word "bully" as an adjective meaning superb/wonderful. The Bully Pulpit features news, reasoned discourse, opinion and some humor.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A Simple Idea

By Steve Brenneis
Ars Mens Mentis

I've said it before. Public education is a broken idea. It can't be fixed. We need to engage the business/economic concept of a sunk cost and abandon it. Continuing to throw good money after bad is foolish.

Other than as an identification for Internet curmudgeons, the above is not a useful statement on its own. So what's the alternative? What should we do?

...Government-operated schools are not and never have been about education. They are about indoctrination and social engineering. Most students who actually manage to glean something of an education from public school have largely done so under their own power, especially in the last thirty years. It's time to admit that the idea, like all collectivist ideas, has the best intentions, but that it was doomed to failure to begin with. Time to move on.

2 Comments:

Anonymous David R. Crawford said...

Obviously, the answer to that question that most satisfies my libertarian leanings is: nothing. We do nothing. The fundamental broken-ness of the public education idea is that it is founded on the assumption that we must do something. That is incorrect. With respect to education, I should do something and you could do something, but there is no requirement for we to do anything. Politicians are fond of demagoguery and table-thumping on how we absolutely must do this and that in the name of education, but the question they will never answer simply, "Why?" When did it become my obligation to assist in the education of your children? Even more to the point, when did it become your obligation to assist in the education of mine?

Universal education is a fundamental requirement for democracy. I agree that education for the purpose of training people for better jobs is not necessisarily the job of the state. Educating people to make intelligent decisions regarding the power that we as a people grant the government is. It is the responsibility of all, because in this sense, an educated populace is beneficial to all.

So, how do we get to nothing? The answer lies in understanding what nothing means. What it means is that we as a government and as a society should do nothing. It means that education, as with just about everything else, is best served by market solutions. Entrepreneurs will provide education services if there is a market for them. The size, availability, and nature of the services should be determined by demand alone. Simply put, education should be a business and it should be utterly unregulated. There is not a single logical or rational argument, outside of sheer totalitarianism that can be made to support the need for government to provide or even to regulate education.

Market solutions have a history of failure in this instance. There is no money in educating the poor, there is no money in educating slower learning students. Education for the rich only should not be a scenario that we would strive for in this country.

I'm not even going to address the nature of such a system once it is achieved. To do so leads inevitably to some form of government regulation. Suffice to say that the quality of education services will most definitely be tied to price. And that is as it should be. Liberals and public education groupies will whine that this means poor people will get a substandard education or none at all. The answer to that is obvious. If education is important to a consumer and being poor is an impediment, then the remedy is to stop being poor.

Please tell me, is this by the work of GW's magic wand? Hard work, pulling yourself up by your bootstraps is easy if someone funds you or you are white or you have no disabilities etc...

Liberals seem to believe that being poor is like having a cold, that it is an unavoidable condition with no remedy, or worse yet, that it can only be remedied by making the rest of us poor. The other answer is the same one that has been with us for millenia: charity. Charity has a place in the market. Once again, liberals seem to believe that charity can only occur when it is forced on us at the point of government's guns.

Being poor is a choice? Yeah, that's the ticket. I choose to be poor, forced to live in slums, no freedoms that come with wealth - yeah - I'll choose that every time. To say there are no barriers to success is simply turning a blind eye to reality.

Ok - enough with the "Liberals" nonsense. If you can't make a good arguement, then point a finger and call it a name. If you have an arguement, don't try to validate it by using inflamitory or predudicial language - just say what you have to say.

Charity is not the business of government - government programs should be the business of the people. The two should not be confused.


The first step toward the provision of a sane education market in America is for the national (I won't even dignify it by calling it federal) government to get out of the education business altogether. Delete the Department of Education and make its secretary go find a real job. Most critically, every penny currently spent by the national government on education must be returned to the taxpayers. It must not be spent on new tanks and aircraft carriers or new social engineering programs or bigger and better bureaucracies for the myriad other things government shouldn't be doing. This money must also be returned in the manner it was collected. Yes, that means rich people will get more. Once again, this is as it should be because rich people paid more to begin with. You want education? Then let's educate. You want class warfare? Go play in traffic with the Republicrats.

Or we could take all this money and pay down the debt that has been incurred by the reckless actions of this administration - but that would be thinking about the next generation - and why would we want to consider them?

Government-operated schools are not and never have been about education. They are about indoctrination and social engineering. Most students who actually manage to glean something of an education from public school have largely done so under their own power, especially in the last thirty years. It's time to admit that the idea, like all collectivist ideas, has the best intentions, but that it was doomed to failure to begin with. Time to move on.

Public schools only become tools of indoctrination and social engineering when the public is too ignorant to monitor and participate in the government as they are entitiled to and empowered to under the constitiution. This takes us back to point #1.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008 2:01:00 PM  
Blogger Steve Brenneis said...

Response here

Wednesday, May 21, 2008 9:21:00 PM  

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