Author Archives: Jacob Fishbeck

The Fall of Conservative Journalism?

For a good chunk of my life, Breitbart News was the only place to get an alternative angle on many controversial topics, such as immigration, mass shootings, climate change, and the litany of Obama Administration scandals over the past seven years (e.g., Pigford, Fast and Furious, IRS).

Unfortunately, for months I have suspected that Breitbart’s editors have been supporting Donald Trump using their positions as media gatekeepers. In doing so they have become the very thing decried by the late Andrew Breitbart. Like the mainstream media does with leftist candidates, Breitbart News reports favorably on Trump not because they are corrupt, but simply because they like him. This is no less deplorable, though.

The resignations of Breitbart journalists Ben Shapiro and Michelle Fields are troubling to me because they seem to confirm my suspicion.

Fields filed a criminal complaint against Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, alleging he strong-armed her at a rally. Fields’ account of the incident is corroborated by an eyewitness, audio, and video from multiple angles (here and here–ironically, the video that “debunks” Fields story looks even more damning of Lewandowski). The fact that someone, most likely Lewandowski, committed a battery against Fields is all but obvious.

Despite the evidence, Breitbart News hesitated to defend their reporter. Although the site eventually posted an official position condemning the offense against Fields, the previous 10 days saw senior editors stifling internal discussion of the incident. John Pollak justified suppressing the story in order to deny Hillary Clinton any “straight up ‘War on Women’ material” that could supposedly hurt Trump.

In his interview with the Independent Journal, Ben Shapiro indicated that Breitbart News’ fawning over Trump was key in his resignation:

“Nothing could grieve me more than having to take this step. But I cannot stand with the company founded by my mentor, Andrew Breitbart, when it abandons a reported in order to protect a political candidate.”

What Shapiro should have said–and this is the real tragedy of the situation–is that Breitbart News has done more than simply throw Michelle Fields under the bus. She is only a symbol. Reason, evidence, and honest, good-faith reporting are the real casualties in Breitbart News’ zealous campaign to protect Trump.

Breitbart News is not the only outlet enamored with Trump. Many of other prominent conservative blogs and sites have that fever. If there were ever a selfish reason for me to hope that Trump fails to become president, it would be that his loss might allow a return of quality conservative journalism. But today I have little confidence in that happening.

Libertarians Choose “Marriage Equality” over Individualism

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling on same-sex marriage, Rebecca Traister at New York Magazine offers some important considerations on the ruling’s lesser-known implications, specifically with regard to single people. She paints a rosy picture of how legal same-sex marriage will relieve the stigma on those who choose not to marry in the first place:

“Gay marriage has presented a challenge to straight marriage in part because it resists the mandate that everyone be straight married. It also, ideally, takes the great things about partnership—love, companionship, commitment—and makes them the basis of the institution.

[…]

The freedom to marry someone of the same sex is the freedom to not have to marry someone of the opposite sex, which in an ideal universe should be tied to the freedom not to have to marry, period.”

The author raises some good points, but while I agree that the Supreme Court ruling underscores a new social order that more readily accepts abstention from marriage, the legal inequalities will persist into the foreseeable future. Further, libertarians, who are best positioned to spearhead this issue, are conspicuously absent from the debate.

The goal of marriage equality, as most understand it, is inherently a farce. Equality is a property enjoyed by individuals, not by socially-constructed associations between those individuals. Even if we achieve total marriage equality, extending the government-conferred benefits of marriage to those partaking in any conceivable union (polygamy, bigamy, human-animal marriages, etc.), single people will always be denied those benefits. Singles will remain, as Bella DePaulo laments, “second-class citizens.”

The social conservatives, despite their faults, are the only ones to voice a consistent answer—albeit an unsatisfactory one, for several reasons—to this inequity. They maintain that promoting marriage serves a public interest through its role in sanctioning and facilitating procreation. They would oppose extending government benefits to single people for the same reason, purportedly, that they oppose extending them to gays and lesbians.

The proponents of same-sex marriage, however, cannot consistently oppose equality for singles. If they truly believe that love, companionship, and commitment should form the basis of the institution, they should want to end government privileges for married individuals altogether. While modern liberals could claim that government privileges for marriage are consistent with democracy in that majorities can grant privileges for whomever, whenever, this too would be inconsistent with their calls for equality.

The truly perplexing case here, however, is the plight of libertarian same-sex marriage proponents. Libertarians generally do not see (or care about) a public interest in the government promoting marriage, nor are they pure majoritarians. Rather, they often assert that government has no business sanctioning marriage at all; but this makes their vacuous celebration of the Supreme Court’s ruling perplexing, since the ruling does not bring about libertarians’ ideal—it in fact reinforces the current government-marriage paradigm.

If libertarians truly wanted to achieve equality for all individuals, regardless of marriage status, why are they so fixated on the courts? A quick search of the libertarian Cato Institute’s website shows that it has filed amicus briefs in numerous high-profile cases like Hollingsworth v. Perry, Kitchen v. Herbert, Bishop v. Smith, and United States v. Windsor. But where was Cato in January of 2014, when Oklahoma legislators pushed to repeal government licensing of marriage altogether? Where were they when Oklahoma legislators tried this again in March of 2015? Where were they in April of 2015 when Alabama legislators made similar efforts? And where are they now that legislators in both Utah and Michigan have drafted bills to remove the government from marriage in those states?

Libertarians have called for “privatizing marriage” before, but their focus and tenacity in that regard has dulled, and these days the idea warrants only an afterthought. Some liberty-oriented groups, as well as several individual libertarians, grasp this challenge, but anyone who highlights these mistaken priorities, even merely implying that the courts are a counterproductive course, risks accusations of bigotry or homophobia, even from other libertarians. Why is there such hostility here?

My guess is that libertarians have for so long been relegated to the sidelines of American politics—nobody really cares about libertarians’ positions on boring ol’ fiscal policy, foreign policy, regulation, etc.—that when a popular social movement arises that (somewhat) comports with libertarian philosophy, they cannot resist latching on to it. Libertarians are so hungry for acceptance from mainstream voters, activists, and ideologues that they will follow this fad to the end of its rabbit hole, even if it takes them through the court system, and further ossifies the butchered notions of Due Process and Equal Protection that have so supplanted the original meaning of the Constitution, a document many libertarians claim is important.

Actions speak louder than words. Libertarians who yearn for true individual equality before the law should not celebrate the Supreme Court’s decision—at best, the decision is morally neutral. If they support true equality, they cannot ignore the plight of single people while remaining logically consistent. The only way to achieve true equality, for straights, gays, lesbians, singles, and everyone else, is to remove the government from marriage entirely. Any effort that does not do that is at best a waste of time.

Some Brief Thoughts on the Minimum Wage

Here are some brief thoughts on the push for a $15 minimum wage, and particularly Robert Reich’s video in favor of that. After devoting diligent consideration to Reich’s seven points, I have come to the conclusion that he is full of it:

1. Yes, there has been inflation since the 1960s, which erodes the value of the minimum wage. Which side of this debate generally supports inflationary monetary policy?… Also, the productivity in the whole economy has increased, but not in the accommodations and food services sectors. In those sectors, the cost of labor has been outpacing productivity. See graph.

Unit Labor Cost

2. Low-wage jobs are not designed to support families; they are designed to give young, low-skill workers experience. And while a majority of minimum-wage earners are not teenagers, a large plurality of them are. Over half are younger than age 25. http://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2013/ted_20130325.htm

3. I’ve heard this a lot lately, and it is completely backwards. When we subsidize the poor through those programs, we make not working a better alternative use of their time than before. This pushes wages HIGHER, since employers now have to compete with that better alternative. This doesn’t mean that we should balloon the welfare state, but if you are intent on helping the poor through government, programs like the EITC are a better less economically damaging way to do that.

4. This claim depends on the inelasticity of demand for labor and is automatically suspect, but even if it were true, there would be no real net benefit since the goods and services that the minimum-wage earners purchase would also increase in price. http://www.cato.org/blog/reich-wrong-minimum-wage

5. Before-tax profits for the fast food industry are around three percent. Companies cannot absorb such a drastic increase in labor costs. They will have to raise prices, which will hurt low-wage workers disproportionately. And while it’s true that employers compete for customers, a minimum wage applies to all employers, so each can rest assured that their competitors will face the exact same pressures. http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2014/09/higher-fast-food-wages-higher-fast-food-prices

6. So, because Republicans will push for a lower-than-$10.10 minimum wage, Democrats should go for the higher $15.00 to compensate… which will ultimately give us 10.10? I though Reich supported a higher minimum wage than that. Shouldn’t he advocate for $19.90 so he can get what he really wants after the GOP forces a compromise?

7. If raising the minimum wage to $15.00 is right, wouldn’t raising it to $30.00 be even more right? If Reich thinks that’s a good idea, he more obviously reveals himself as an economic dunce. If, however, he responds that doing so would be economically infeasible, which it is, then he is saying that economics trumps morality. But if economics trumps morality, why is he even bringing this up as one of his seven points?

The Politics of Need

Out of all the comforts and joys we reap in life, none are more crucial to the attainment of our wellbeing than the satisfaction of our basic physical human needs. Human health is so important that without maintaining it, all other desired states—whether social, economic, spiritual, and mental—become unreachable. It is impossible to ponder the nebulous teachings of science and philosophy, for example, when the growls of your empty stomach incessantly drown out the voice of your own mind.

Our preoccupation with satisfying basic human needs, albeit a noble one, has spurred the implementation of markedly ignoble redistributionist public policies. We used to hold capitalism in high regard as a system for alleviating human need, but the massive economic growth it caused, ironically, seems only to have ballooned our intellectual bankruptcy. Alas, the extra time and comfort with which capitalism endowed us has yielded few intellectual rewards besides the various rationales for undermining it (e.g., Marxism, progressivism, social democracy, etc.). As Walter Williams once noted,

“Free enterprise is threatened today in our country not because of its failure—it’s threatened because of its success. That is, capitalism has been so successful in eliminating the traditional problems of mankind, such as disease, pestilence, hunger, and gross poverty, that all other human problems appear to us, to be at once, inexcusable and unbearable. The desire by many Americans to eliminate these so called ‘unbearable and inexcusable’ problems has led us away from the basic ideals and principles upon which our prosperous nation was built.”

The desire to eliminate “unbearable and inexcusable” problems underlies almost every American redistributionist policy, from free/reduced school lunches for children to Medicare and Medicaid. It is exceedingly difficult to fight against this rationale, as the advocates of these policies invariably label any contenders as uncompassionate brutes vying to deny their fellow man of food and medicine. A libertarian would generally respond that supporting or opposing the government provision of a good or service is unrelated to whether or not that good or service is provided at all. But then the question becomes not whether a particular good or service is needed, but whether one thinks human need justifies the use of force to obtain it. Before we can answer that question, however, we must first explore the concept of need itself.

The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) gives an illustrative exposé of how Americans view “need.” Enacted in 1986, EMTALA forces hospital workers to provide emergency screening for anyone who requests it—regardless of that person’s ability to pay—and then either treat that person or transfer him to a proper treatment facility. The rationale for this law is the familiar argument from human necessity, that it is the responsibility of a compassionate people to provide for the basic needs of other humans, despite any and all costs incurred in meeting that obligation.

Setting aside momentarily any arguments from morality or efficiency, we can already see one obvious problem with the politics of need: Before you can claim that humans require a thing to live, you must first define what that thing is. For the purposes of political expediency, it has in this case been defined as emergency care provided by anyone working within a hospital, but there have been many kinds of health care other than purely the services of professionals within hospitals. Comprehensive freshwater and sewer systems, healthy diets, good hygiene, abstaining from alcohol and tobacco, regular exercise, animal therapy, and even feng shui can all be considered forms of health care—and those are just examples of physical health care! There are also many forms of mental health care, such as study, meditation, and reading, which the law doesn’t deal with. If health care is such an amorphous concept that it could encompass just about every aspect of life, then is there anything that we as a society cannot demand from individuals with such “health”-related resources and expertise? There can be no logical limit to the sense of entitlement on which the law is based.

Claiming that health care is required to live also requires defining what it means to live. This is not some mere esoteric quibble. The treatments for some incurable diseases do nothing more than marginally improve the quality of life for the afflicted, blurring the boundary between life-saving health care and quality-of-life health care. Equally obscure is the boundary separating quality-of-life health care and other quality-of-life items that we would not normally consider tools of health care, such as therapy furniture or pets. If the former can be demanded on the basis of improving quality of life, cannot the latter also be demanded on the same basis?

The inconsistencies in these concepts are not only frustrating, but also ultimately exploitative and immoral. Forcing private individuals or hospitals to provide for someone’s health care without compensation destroys any and every notion of individual property rights we have. I imagine that the proponents of EMTALA would balk at this assertion; they would emphatically reject, for example, the forced redistribution of jewelry or leaf-blowers—“individuals still have the right not to provide those to the poor” they would say—but then they are just being inconsistent. As health and nutrition gradually improve in this country (despite our government social safety net; not because of it), and as our “unbearable and inexcusable” problems fade into the distance, we will see the emergence of new problems to take their place. The “[X] is a necessity” rationale can theoretically, with enough logical finagling and patience, be applied to any good and service, such as education, housing, clothing, or even automobiles, and we can expect to see the politics of need envelop these as well, until there is ultimately no good or service to which anyone can justifiably deny provision to another. We used to call those without any rights to their property “slaves.” Now we call them “well-off.”

EMTALA needs to be repealed because of its immorality and its inconsistency. Moreover, we should abandon any sense of entitlement based on notions of necessity, and re-employ the concepts of property rights that gave us the societal wealth we have, and that will propel us into the next age of prosperity.

On the Riots in Ferguson

Back in July of 2013, when the jury delivered its verdict on the trial of George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin, many pundits wailed in dismay and bewilderment: “What are we to teach our kids about this outcome?” “How can I sincerely tell my son or daughter that the criminal justice system will protect them as faithfully as their white counterparts?” “How can black children be safe when white murderers cannot be punished?” Now, in the Missouri town of Ferguson, a grand jury has decided not to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the wrongful death of Michael Brown, and in the midst of the resultant protests, demonstrations, and riots, we hear similar refrains from activists and media alike.

I am not, nor have I ever been a parent; but I hope to be one someday, and I find myself asking the same questions, though for a different reason. Most critics of the criminal proceedings—or lack thereof—view these tragedies as harmfully reshaping social norms. They fear the resurgence of a world in which racial prejudices invade our social and legal institutions, tipping the scales of justice in favor of those who, all else being equal, would be punished or penalized.

While we should not ignore those concerns (I would caution, however, that the arbitrary and excessive use of police force is not strictly a racial issue), Ferguson’s reaction to the grand jury’s decision leaves me wondering if a different, yet equally insidious social standard is not being fashioned in the aftermath. What am I to tell my son when he sees the riots in the streets? When he sees the burning and looting, the abject disregard for persons and property, the hair-trigger uproar upon receiving the official decision, how should I explain it?

I would start by telling him that the social norms of our nation are, in fact, regressing to a more archaic state. But it is not in the manner that mainstream critics predict. I would respond to my son’s inquiry with some questions of my own.

If criminal justice proceedings that employ facts and evidence are met with such blatant, open hostilities as we see today, how can we claim to value those methods of adjudication? And if we do not value facts and evidence, what criteria will we choose instead to accurately judge these situations? By definition, the only alternative to judgment based on facts and evidence is judgment based on prejudice. How can we claim to be judging someone by the content of their character if this is the norm?

When all people, not just police officers, face the proposition that any use of deadly force for self-defense will invariably be met with a public outcry and racial controversy, regardless of the final verdict on the justifiability for that action, how will that engender feelings of safety and good will in racially diverse communities? How will neighbors come to regard each other when such occurrences foster the political-identity attitude that breeds racial and class antipathy?

How will the health and integrity of our public discourse fare when we automatically label as racists and oppressors those people who adhere to the principle of justified deadly force in self-defense, and express their support for those who exercise it? This abolishment of any possibility for active listening would seem only to neuter the freedom of speech.

As these new, changed norms spread and ossify, how long would we have before they start to permeate our legal institutions? How would the behavior of criminal justice officials change under the continual specter of riots and destruction? That change, for which the many loud activists clamor, may indeed produce outcomes that they find more agreeable, but would that be a testament to the triumph of some universal notion of justice, or would that be the result of acquiescing to those who most credibly threaten mass violence?

Even setting aside how I would teach my son, I wonder how his interpersonal relations should change as a result of us condoning riots. How can I advocate strict adherence to a principle of non-aggression when social or legal outcomes can be so easily and legitimately influenced by wanton violence? Is it wise to instruct my son only to use force in self-defense when I know that others will not hesitate to incite and partake in violence to achieve their political goals? And if he follows their example, by what criteria should he do so? What moral cause is great enough to warrant such action? In an act of disservice to the rest of us, the people now in the streets neglected to establish such a standard before commencing with their holy march, seemingly relegating the question of what constitutes a just cause to peoples’ fickle and subjective whims.

For some of these questions I can only speculate as to the answers; some of them are simply impossible for any intellectually honest libertarian to answer, as they invite only arbitrariness. Luckily for me, I am not yet in the position of having to confront these questions with an impressionable child, so I will focus on preventing such matters from becoming prevalent while I have the time. Granted, the issues of excessive force by police and civil asset forfeiture are being brought to the forefront right now, and we should refrain from pretending they do not exist; but of more immediate and fundamental concern should be a restoration of confidence in the use of facts, reason, and evidence to judge disputes. A justice system that operates by any other mode is really not a justice system at all—it perpetuates not a rule of law, but rule of man. That is not a world into which I would want to bring a child.

Capitalism, Environmentalism, and Waste

One of the most common criticisms of capitalism is that it promotes not only mere apathy, but hostility toward the environment. Specifically, it drive a materialistic consumerism which requires an accelerating depletion of Earth’s natural resources. We burn fossil fuels, deplete our soil, and clear-cut vast swaths of forest, all causing glacial melt, rising oceans, and desert expansion. Ultimately, it goes, Earth will be transformed into a desolate wasteland.

These dramatic images beget dramatic reactions, such as the rise of the environmentalist movement. Originally a personal lifestyle focused on preserving natural resources, environmentalism has morphed into a powerful political movement concerned with shaping the behavior of others. However, the often drastic lifestyle changes required by environmentalism seldom resonate with its skeptics, which has led to numerous controversies and conflicts. We therefore cannot prudently abstain from questioning environmentalism’s central cause: Is it noble to preserve natural resources at the expense of enjoying certain lifestyles, and is the state necessary or even helpful to achieve this goal?

One of the most common responses is that we have in our interest the perpetuation of our own species, and that certain methods of utilizing natural resources are better or worse for doing so. To state that differently, environmentalism’s purpose is to prevent the wasting of resources so that their use may be prolonged.

This assertion requires that we first agree on a definition of waste. Unfortunately, too many use their personal preferences to determine whether or not waste has occurred. Let us consider a hypothetical example: I have some unwanted leftovers in the fridge, and I am trying to decide what to do with them. They are no longer exceedingly appetizing, and upon reflection, I probably should have bought less food to start. Nevertheless, I have no intention of eating them, and I decide to throw them away.

If you were to ask the average bystander, he would probably say that I was wasteful in this scenario. “There were a hundred other uses you could have chosen for the leftovers,” he might say, “You could have given them away, composted them, or even burned them as fuel. The mere fact that you did not simply eat them increases your future demand for food, spurring producers to further deplete our natural resources.” This sentiment is orthodoxy in environmentalist circles, but it indicates a narrow, lopsided perspective.

It is true that I have given up the leftovers, but the average bystander mistakenly assumes that the leftover food is the only resource involved in the equation. However, instead of unappetizing leftovers, I now have refrigerator space—also a resource—in which I can place newer, more appetizing food. I value the space in the fridge more than the leftovers, and from my point of view, keeping the leftovers would have been a waste of that space. Does it make me a wasteful person that, upon choosing between those two resources, some people disagree with my particular preference? If so, it would mean that waste is itself a purely subjective concept, and utterly useless for developing sustainable lifestyles.

Fortunately, a different concept of waste can still be useful—one which prioritizes not human preferences, but the methods we have for achieving those preferences. Values are subjective, but the methods we have for achieving our values can be objectively compared as more or less efficient. For example, crude oil can be easily extracted on Earth, but it is also possible that oil may be extracted from other planets. Per the amount of crude oil we need to extract, it is obvious that the expense of time, exploration and research, capital equipment, and labor to extract it from another planet is an enormous waste, given that one could extract oil much more cheaply on Earth.

Unfortunately, it is often difficult to know which methods of resource utilization are most efficient, so we must first have an economic system that best facilitates their discovery and development.

Capitalism, with its built-in profit motive, fulfills that very purpose. In a free market, firms earn profits when the revenue they receive for selling a good or service outweighs the inputs—land, labor, and capital—required to provide that good or service. There are only two ways for a firm to maximize its profits: It can either raise prices or cut costs. Because competition usually bars firms from the former option, it becomes within their financial interest to opt for the latter, which means using fewer inputs. This is how capitalism provides a financial incentive for using the fewest raw materials while still satisfying customers.

When the profit motive is dampened or removed, as is the case in subsidized or nationalized industries, the incentive for a firm to cut costs is also removed. If the success of a firm is no longer dependent on profit and consumer demand, a firm may continue to produce a good which is not needed, unnecessarily depleting natural resources.

While environmentalists may concede these arguments, they may still point out that Earth’s natural resources are finite, and that their depletion is inevitable, even if our efficient use of them causes it to occur more slowly. Therefore, renewable resources must be developed.

But even this is only partially true: While resources are finite, it is unlikely that any will ever be truly depleted. As a resource becomes scarcer, the cost of extracting it increases to the point where further extraction becomes prohibitively expensive and/or to the point where the cost of extracting an alternative resource becomes competitive. Also, by this very same principle, space exploration/colonization is inevitable, presenting us with a potentially limitless supply of resources.

Could socialism do any better in striking a balance between decadence and sustainability? In socialist economies, the preferences of individuals, and the methods by which they go about satisfying those preferences (the means of production), are all controlled by the state. Political incentives, rather than economic incentives, drive the different methods of resource utilization. There is neither an automatic mechanism to promote efficiency in the use of raw materials, nor one to spur the exploration of alternative resources in the event that extracting one grows costly. Even if political and economic incentives become coincidentally aligned—a rare occurrence—history has shown the state to be slow and clumsy in performing the same allocative functions as a market.

While environmentalists’ intentions may be good, their methods are not. Choosing between lifestyles of abundance and deprivation is a false choice. The best way to preserve resources is not to impose subjective behavioral changes upon individuals, but to promote freedom so that individuals will be incentivized to avoid waste in pursuing their happiness.

Public Education, and the Fight Against Indoctrination

Why do the supporters of public schools so abhor the idea of free choice and competition in the education industry? One of the more often-heard reasons is that allowing parents to send their children to alternative schools or to homeschool presents the unbearable risk of indoctrination. Indoctrinated children grow up to be dysfunctional members of society, so it is incumbent upon the rest of society to intervene and provide children with a standard, unbiased, and robust education, which the state is uniquely able to facilitate.

This concern by public school proponents about the risk of indoctrination seems oddly contrived, however, considering the ideology that informs public education policy prescriptions in the first place. The whole premise of public schooling is the instillation of knowledge not according to professional consensus, the scientific method, or the power of creative destruction, but according to ordained dogma of a political majority. This fact may sometimes be obscured by the implicit trust we have for our “professional” education bureaucracy, but remember that the bureaucrats are always appointed by the politicians.

That elections determine what we teach in school is an inherent volatility of public education which the system’s proponents are shockingly quick to tolerate. Does it not bother them, for example, that while evolution is currently the predominant theory of human origins taught in public science classrooms, it is possible—even likely, in certain localities—that a shift in the political winds could grant the power of crafting education policy to those who believe in the propriety of creationism as an alternative scientific theory? Having a free market in education would alleviate this volatility by allowing those who disagree to extricate their children from schools with such curricula and pursue alternative methods of schooling. Yet those who favor public schooling—a few on the right, but mostly on the left—abhor the idea of letting parents choose for themselves what kind of education their kids receive.

Why would people concerned with the education of their children expose themselves to such unnecessary risk? Why would they endlessly and restlessly struggle for control over education policy?

The explanation is simple: Public school proponents are not only concerned with the education of their own children—they are also concerned with the education of everyone else’s. As much as parents would love the freedom to teach their own children according to their own values and beliefs, having that freedom necessarily means granting it to others; but that means some parents could teach their children views which others find disagreeable. The only way for parents to have their cake and eat it too is the creation of compulsory public education, so that a majority of parents—busybodies—may teach their kids as they please while denying that same right to those without political power.

Paradoxically, their reliance on state power in the education sector displays both arrogance and diffidence simultaneously. So confident are they in the infallibility of their own ideas that they feel compelled to impress them upon all children in the pursuance of comprehensive and effective societal education, yet so insecure are they about the same ideas that they refuse to let their teaching methods and curricula stand alone in a free market without the aid of government force.

This paradox may be resolved, perhaps, by assuming that the individual consumers of education are too stupid to recognize infallible ideas, and that force is the only way to achieve proper education. If this is the case, however, then the ideas being forced upon people need not be valid or true, and consumers (voters) would have no way of holding education officials accountable for not providing true and valid curricula in the schools anyway.

Regardless of the particular rationale used to defend public schooling, we should ask ourselves—based on actions rather than words—who truly seems more worried about indoctrination? Those who believe in a competition of curricula and ideas, or those who seek to impose upon everyone else what they sincerely believe must always and forever be the correct worldview?