[ExI] Public education myths

Dan dan_ust at yahoo.com
Tue Jul 14 15:08:56 UTC 2009

--- On Mon, 7/13/09, Mirco Romanato <painlord2k at libero.it> wrote:
> Dan ha scritto:
>> --- On Sun, 7/12/09, Mirco Romanato <painlord2k at libero.it>
>> wrote:
>> This also assumes that the streets, etc. are justly
>> held by the people
> I try to keep thing simply, for the sake of clarity.
> Giving back to the owners it relatively easy in the short
> time, but
> after decades is as easy as make eggs using omelettes.
> This, I suppose, it is the reason that make forgiveness so
> useful and
> prized. If people continued, after decades and centuries to
> mind of any
> and all wrongs they and their ancestors were subjected,
> there would not
> be peace and collaboration, only conflict and war.

I've had some thoughts, over the years, on how to apply this in a way that doesn't create utter chaos.  My ideas here are not necessarily original.  I'd say, in most cases, whoever occupies a property gets to keep it.  It's up to someone else to make a claim against the occupant.  There are special cases where where the current occupant would have no right to continue possession -- much less have a claim to the just title.  The obvious ones are where the current occupant took the property by coercion.  And, obviously, this applies to all government (i.e., public) property.  All of it is the result of coercion.

What to do with it is not something to settle from the armchair, but the government must be removed from it period.  This is no different than if a band of thieves heads into several villages, plundering and causing havoc, and then we catch them on the road several months later.  Let's say we know all they possess is not theirs justly.  We might not know who the rightful owners are of each item, but we do know that not of thieves are the rightful owners, so they should NOT be allowed to keep any of it.  (This applies to government employees and contractors too.  If the band of thieves had a cook who did no direct stealing, she or he would not have any right to any of the loot.  The cook couldn't say, e.g., "These are my pots" if, in truth, the pots were stolen even if the cook didn't do the actual stealing.)

This steal leaves a lot of problem cases.  And some of this would be difficult to settle.  Public roads, in some instances, will be one of them.  However, that doesn't mean the only remedy available is to continue some form of statism -- even of the democratic form that some here are entranced with.

I believe that in many of these cases it won't be so hard.  Obviously, in any recent eminent domain cases where a piece of land was stolen from someone -- i.e., eminent domain was used to force a sale -- the property should be returned to that person.  In other cases, it might be easy to trace some ownership, via taxes collected, to certain local parties -- as in the case where a town or village builds a road using local funds.  (As an alternative, the road might be sold and the funds used to pay back these taxpayers.)

But I don't have a blanket solution either, but that's no argument against private road ownership, but rather underscores the mess violation of property rights creates when practiced generation after generation.  In any case, I don't imagine that all property can be returned.  As I've said before, some will be just to difficult to trace back to any rightful owner.  Some should be put up for homesteading -- especially in cases where
 governments prevented homesteading or where they allowed groups with special privileges to homestead.  In still others, property will have been consumed.  (E.g., the taxes used to pay for wars have been used up.  There simply, in most cases, is no way to pay people back.  This doesn't mean politicians, government employees, and the like shouldn't be punished or made to pay restitution (to all their victims -- not just taxpayers), but it's doubtful if, say, a war cost $100 million to the taxpayers that they're going to get $100 million back plus interest.  It's more likely they'll get pennies on the dollar if anything.)

>> I'm not as familiar with other nations, but in the US
> I was referring to the rationale given to the UK people,
> and probably
> near all people in the world, to support public compulsory
> education.
> I agree that the rationale given could not be the real
> rationale.
> Or, probably, many people acted for different rationales
> and someone hijacked the process and their work.

One must also be careful.  Sometimes the rationale offered today is not the one that was offered when a policy was originally put into effect.  An example from our time is how the Bush Administration justified its invasion of Iraq.  The rationale changed over time.  The case with schooling is similar, though the period of time is longer and no one defending public schooling today was likely around defending it back in, say, the big period of growth in this area -- maybe the 1890s and then the 1930s in America.  (The UK had similar periods of growth in this area.  I forget the details and am not as familiar with this case.)  In the US case, the rationales offered in the late 19th century were mainly anti-immigrant and stoked the fears of a mainly Protestant population of English, Scottish, and German descent of the big migrations of Irish Catholics and later Italians Catholics.  The fear was of cultural and religious change -- not some desire to
 the masses and give them opportunities, but to make them fit in and not upset the apple cart.

In the 1930s, the rationale -- at this time, more to make public schooling mandatory rather than to make it widespread -- was more to prevent children from competing against unionized labor so as to keep union wages up at the expense of all other workers.

Today, while there are a few people who might use the cultural rationale in the US, they're more likely to be of a more benign sort.  And I haven't heard anyone using the anti-competition argument.  (It's doubtful, too, if public schooling were to disappear today that children would suddenly pop up all over the place with jobs.  That might happen in a generation or two -- and would likely be a good change.  I don't mean children working in dangerous or back-breaking work, but rather doing something to produce wealth as well as learn a career.)

Not to labor the point, the same pattern repeats with drug laws in the US.  Most drugs laws that came into being in the early 20th century were actually racist in rationale: specific racial groups were said to sell drugs to Whites and this was harming Whites both by giving them a vice and by association with non-Whites.  E.g., anti-opium campaigns were targeted against Chinese immigrants.  (And, today, it's mostly Blacks who suffer from various drug laws: they tend to be over-represented in prison for possession, use, or sales of currently illegal drugs.)  I don't think anyone today would use the same rationale to keep opium or other "narcotics" illegal.

Maybe the problem here is lack of historical understanding.  A lot of people today who support statism tend to think it's a good thing.  And they tend to have a mythical history of how specific laws or policies arose.  It seems they have the view that the law-makers are saintly beings and the voters who put them there knew exactly what they were doing -- and both knew the best policy and operated from the best motives.

And, of course, somehow, these same people, were they to lower themselves to doing things voluntarily -- i.e., trying to persuade each other to do this or that -- they would almost always happen on the wrong policy and only operate from the worst motives and without enough forethought.  In other words, when someone is in political office or in the voting both, she's an angel, but outside of it she's a demon.  Somehow, it seems, statists believe that government transforms people.

Now, this is not to say voluntary systems change people into saints or angels either.  As I've pointed out before, I don't trust a businessman either, but I'm not forced to deal with him.  I can always, in most cases very easily, choose not to deal with him.
>>> Maybe, desocialize the children from their
>>> families and neighbours
>>> and socialize them with a bunch of same age
>>> individuals is good, maybe it is not.
>> Some believe it tends to disrupt "natural" social
>> orders.  Note the
>> model too: put lots of little children into a room
>> with one authority
>> who tells them what to do.  This is social
>> regimentation that seems
>> best suited not for learning but for fostering
>> obedience.
> True. But only if the teacher have authority and is
> respected and feared.
> Just now, in many schools of the western society, the
> teacher is without
> authority and it is not respected by the pupils or their
> parents, nor supported by his/her superior.
> In this way, the pupils will not learn to obey to an higher
> authority;
> they will learn that authority figures must not be
> respected and only
> the bullies need to be respected and feared. They will
> learn that hard
> work is not rewarded, that the authority (the teacher) is
> intimidated by the bullies or their parents.

That sounds like conservative rhetoric.  As one who actually went through the public school system, yeah, there are bullies, but my personal experience is of obedient students taught to obey and agree with whatever the teacher says.  There are always some who rebel, but the main message seems to get through quite well:  Do as we say and you'll be rewarded, go against us and your life will be miserable.
> In a way this is understandable. People is no more required
> to work in
> their live, they are entitled to welfare in their live. And
> authority
> people must provide for them. So, there is no need to force
> them to
> learn, even in a paternalistic setting. It is not useful
> they learn, as
> if they learn, they will not be dependant on welfare and
> the political class that dole it out.

That sounds again like conservative rhetoric.  The ruling class mainly wants people to work, pay taxes, and keep the system going.  They do have a welfare class and in most nations today it's hard to pick out who are net tax payers and who are net tax recipients.  In fact, the poor who receive welfare, while net tax receivers, are a tiny minority here.  The much larger class are middle income people who both pay and receive much -- and hence, since they receive goodies, tend to think government is good.  (This is similar to David Friedman's illustration of the government agent who takes and gives.  In his illustration, something like 100 people with $100 each are sitting in a circle and the government agent takes a dollar from each one, then plunks down fifty dollars for one guy.  The process is repeated.  Soon, everyone in the circle forgets that the government is taking a dollar from each one and keeping fifty cents of it.  In the end, the government
 agent has half their money and each person only $50.  Instead, each person is focused on getting the $50 -- forgetting that he or she is actually losing $50 in the process.)

Yes, a small government sponsored underclass is mostly desired.  In the US and in Europe, note how anti-poverty programs do not eliminate poverty.  (There's been a few studies over the years, e.g., that show that were the trillions spent on government anti-poverty programs in the US given to the poor, they'd all be middle class.  Where'd the money go?  This isn't to say it's all failed.  Some people do climb out of poverty, but how is this any different than how anyone climbs out of poverty when there's no government program to help?)

> Obviously, this will destroy the wealth of the nation in
> the not so long
> period. But for the people in the Ivory towers and in the
> leading
> position this is not important, as they believe that they
> will not be damaged.

I disagree.  Statism is parasitic and does have crises, but what usually happens is either the ruling class changes its policies for a time to lower its parasitism -- and once the pie is bigger, changes the policies again to parasitize more -- or is replaced by another ruling class that does.  It's a rare case where the ruling class destroys society completely...  Rare but not impossible as one can see looking at Germany in the early 1920s and Zimbabwe today.

>>> It appear that the US and Europe, in many fields,
>>> are losing their 
>>> advantages in respect to East Asia. Maybe they are
>>> or were doing
>>> something wrong.
>> I think it might be a bit more complicated than the
>> form of schooling in each country.
> For sure.
> Schooling and education don't happen in a vacuum.

Yes, so I would make too many broad statements here about public education and one nation's fortunes.  Too many other factors play a role.
>> I also think that having educational choices made at
>> the national
>> level is a way to guarantee failure.  Yes,
>> eventually, over decades,
>> different nations might figure out this or that
>> educational policy is
>> bad, but this is similar to having, say, diet or
>> technology choices
>> made this way.  Imagine had nation's -- meaning,
>> really, the ruling
>> classes of nations -- decide on the proper diet and
>> not allowing
>> people inside them to deviate.  How quickly would
>> the world settle on the best diet?
> I don't know.
> I only know the life expectations would fall rapidly.
> And people would immediately find way to break the laws
> and, possibly, break the lawmakers.

I'm not so sure.  Imagine the diet is mediocre but not completely unhealthy.  Think of the USRDA over years.  You won't die immediately if you follow it.  Your life will simply not be at the maximum possible health following it.  Now why we would ever want to have people coerced to follow the USRDA and just hope that the Canadians, the Dutch, the Japanese, etc. follow a different RDA and that, after a few decades, we can see which nation's RDA is best?

(Of course, were it forced, my recommendation would be immediate overthrow of any government so enforcing it.  But, then again, this is my recommendation wherever one finds government: get rid of it.)

>> A far better system is to allow individual people to
>> make their
>> dietary choices.  Yes, some will make
>> stupendously stupid choices,
>> but most won't because they have a direct incentive to
>> get it right.
>> Also, by having individual freedom, people can
>> self-correct -- rather
>> than wait until the leaders change their minds or some
>> sort of national consensus is reached.
> Agree.




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