I’m totally digging the contretemps in Wisconsin. My take is that a lot of formerly-innocent Americans are seeing the naked grasping of Rotarian Socialism in a new way. Even without 2008, I think most people got it that business and government lived hand-in-pocket with each other. But the holy aura of the union hid a lot of ugliness — which is not to say that many people were looking all that closely, anyway. But a few of the schoolteachers of Wisconsin and a passel of imported ideologues have managed to illustrate undeniably a very potent idea:
They see themselves as your owners and you as their slave.
That’s worth knowing, just by itself, just as a general guide to understanding a lot of what it going on right now in America — and all over the world. Is it plausible to more people tonight than it was last night that the ruling class of the United States might launch an air assault — as Libya is said to have done today — to put down a rebellion?
Here’s what’s worse: You are their slave. So am I. So is everyone. The Tea Party — writ large — is a slave rebellion. Not even a total rebellion, just an attempt to renegotiate the contract of slavery. But the response of the ruling class is just short of out-right violence. Their strategy seems to insist that to concede anything is to concede everything.
In this I think they credit the Tea Party — again, in the large — as being better thought-out than it is. Even so, the strategy is simultaneously bold and suicidal and, possibly, self-fulfilling: I hope American workers make the conscious connection to the ideas they have expressed with their bodies by avoiding union membership where that is a lawful slave-privilege.
But the self-interest of all the contestants — the teachers, the students and parents, the schools, the legislators, the governor, the tax-payers — would be better served by an even more radical idea: Divestiture.
Why is education a state monopoly?
Why are teacher at the mercy of one monopoly boss, who can jerk them around with laws, with the police to back him up, if necessary.
Why are students and their parents at the mercy of one monopoly school system? For that matter, how is it any of your business what my kid does with his time?
Why are schools jammed into a one-size-fits-all jelly jar, and why are all alternatives to hive-mind slave-indoctrination either assimilated or outlawed?
Why are the legislature and the governor and the police and a zillion functionaries wasting their time on what should be a free-market business? At it absolute best their meddling is wasteful — and if you think anything is at its best, you just might be a victim of state education.
Finally, why are the tax-payers forced to pay for this farce? My car? I buy the gas and insurance. Your kid? You buy the Malt ‘o’ Meal and the education. This is how free people live among each other in peace. As soon as I presume to steal your money to buy my gas — or my health insurance — and you presume to steal my money to (mis-)educate your kid, we are at war with each other. We can effect that war peacefully, at the ballot box, or forcefully, as in Wisconsin. But so long as I am trying to make you my slave — and you me yours — we not only cannot live in peace, we are actively preying upon each other.
And that’s the best reason of all to get the state — all government, eventually, but at least the state-level government for now — out of education: To be that much less a slave of the ruling class — and of each other. Teachers and schools free of the dead hand of the state. Parents and students free to shop for quality and to reward it appropriately. The state government that much smaller, that much less threatening. And the tax-payer set free to do as he chooses with his own money. We are right on the cusp of the iPad academy, in any case, but all roads lead to the benefits of liberty.
Oh, the chaos! Oh, the turmoil! Oh, the inconvenience! I truly don’t care. If you want to insist that there must, must, must be a government, your argument gets a lot less persuasive the farther you get from the very basic idea of keeping the peace. It was stupid for anyone to give the government anything more to do, given how poor it turns out to be at its one allegedly “essential” function. Whatever disruption there is in cutting out this cancer, it will be temporary, and it will be immediately forgotten in the instant improvement in quality that will result from discarding this monopoly.
But, but, but– What if there’s not enough money to provide an education for everyone who wants one? I have no reason to compromise — since none of this will happen in real life, anyway — but you might-could sway me by offering to cut my taxes by the amount of money being wasted on children who don’t want an education. But it is absurd to say that a free market will not serve all demand. Rich people and poor people wear different shoes, but in a free economy no one goes barefoot except by choice. There are shoes enough for everyone, and it seems highly plausible to me that very talented poor children will do a lot better in a free market than they do now as the slaves of the state education plantation.
The state monopoly on education is just another face of Rotarian Socialism — regulation in pursuit of rent-seeking sinecures. The schoolteachers of Wisconsin are telling us exactly what should be done: Free the slaves of the education monopoly. Good things will happen to good teachers, but, of far greater importance: Great things will begin to happen for the first time for many, many very bright American children.