Friday, June 4, 2010

Free soup and education

From Murray Rothbard’s book For a New Liberty, chapter 7, “Education”:
Protection of a child against starvation or malnutrition is presumably just as important as protection against ignorance. It is difficult to envisage, however, that any government, in its anxiety to see that children have minimum standards of food and clothing, would pass laws for compulsory and universal eating, or that it should entertain measures which lead to increased taxes or rates in order to provide children’s food, “free” at local authority kitchens or shops.

It is still more difficult to imagine that most people would unquestioningly accept this system, especially where it had developed to the stage that for “administrative reasons” parents were allocated to those shops which happened to be nearest their homes . . . . Yet strange as such hypothetical measures may appear when applied to the provision of food and clothing they are nevertheless typical of . . . state education . . . .


Mor said...

ummm...public school education is not compulsory? You can send your kid wherever you choose - or home school him? Does this guy think that it should be legal for parents to neglect the education of their children? It is not legal for parents not to feed their children...

A Suede Ḥossid said...

Perhaps at the time when the author was writing, it was compulsory to give children some kind of education. In the article, the author says that home-schooling was illegal and that private schools were heavily regulated by the government.

(As a side point, we’re not talking about legal or illegal here, but moral or immoral.)

I agree that it is immoral not to feed your children, but although it may also be immoral not to educate your children, perhaps it is not the government’s business to force parents to do so. In any event, the author says that many children are not suited for modern-day schools and would be much better off working or educating themselves differently.

It may sound harsh, but 90% of the kids I went to school with got nothing out of Shakespeare, Math or Biology. They retained none of the information, and they found none of it applicable. Definitely allowing them to be educated in some other kind of programs or just setting them to work would be more beneficial to them and to the society. (And I didn’t even go to that bad of a public school.)

I know you will say that the appropriate solution is better teachers. I think the way to get there, however, is not through government-run schools but the same way as getting to better cars: let the market take care of this particular industry and improve its services and products. And eventually they will become more accessible to the general public.

But just like in the last post, you missed the main point. The government creates a system of public schools (btw, there were people in the history, like some people in Oregon in the middle of 20th century, who argued that since education is a public good, and kids are future citizens, we can’t just allow private schools to educate the kids in whatever the schools want; they tried to outlaw the private schools, but Supreme Court found it unconstitutional). The system is no different from a system of soup kitchens, where parents who could not afford soup (or food with proper ingredients) to their children would be forced by the government to bring their children to the particular soup kitchen.

You really should read the whole article. You’ll disagree with some points, but you may agree with many others.