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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/4770/a-lesson-from-the-supreme-court/

A Lesson from the Supreme Court

March 6, 2006 by

The Supreme Court decision on March 6th in the case of Rumsfeld v. Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights (FAIR) should be a lesson to libertarian supporters of government-funded school vouchers. The Court ruled that colleges and universities that accept federal funding cannot bar military recruiters from their campuses. I believe the old saying is: “He who pays the piper calls the tune.” Government-funded vouchers will certainly increase federal control over the private schools that accept them. Why do some libertarians think that vouchers are an exception?

{ 17 comments }

jeffrey March 6, 2006 at 9:40 pm

Yes, government control, but also, and just as importantly, public control in the sense of pressure coming from taxpayers who shell out and (probably rightly) feel some stake in how the money is spent. Taxpayers don’t want to fund sectarian religious ventures or anything else that strikes them as peculiar. It would be so easy for any private school accepting vouchers to be demonized in the press for teaching anything non-mainstream, and the prospect alone will cause them all to “self regulate.” In fact, it is a wonder that “charter schools” have gotten away with what they do, and they are on a short leash from the regulators.

Keith March 7, 2006 at 6:15 am

The implication is that the Federal government isn’t already influencing schools. I think arguing against vouchers because it will open the school house doors to the Feds is like arguing that worker safety laws will open the workplace to the Feds. Its already happened. To coin a phrase “that war is over and we lost”. Its time to move on to the next war.

Dennis Sperduto March 7, 2006 at 7:57 am

“To coin a phrase ‘that war is over and we lost’. Its time to move on to the next war.”

This may be entirely true. But in moving on, our energies should be re-directed and re-invigorated to laying the ideological foundation that will lead once again to the separation of school and state in the country.

homeimprovementninja March 7, 2006 at 11:02 am

I see problems with government vouchers, but I think it’s better than the current alternative (mandatory monopolistic state-run education). I know that there are things to be said for taking a principled stand, but I don’t think we should make the perfect the enemy of the good.

The socialist welfare/warfare state came into being not by a giant revolution, but by creeping incrementalism. Perhaps we can take this country back to it’s Jeffersonian classical liberalism tradition step by step, instead of using a giant leap.

Brad Dexter March 7, 2006 at 11:54 am

The rupture occur once the money is taken. The labor (and the value judgements) that went into the trade is taken and redirected. So no matter how it is allocated, there will be a faction who decry how the “public money” is spent.

That’s why it should be left to a market, so that conflicting positions can work themselves out naturally instead of forcefully.

Vouchers are simply the product of “compromise” by Conservatives who have given up the true fight of ending State theft and hope to direct some of the pork to their preferred NGO-esque entities.

Stephen W. Carson March 7, 2006 at 12:19 pm

“The socialist welfare/warfare state came into being not by a giant revolution, but by creeping incrementalism. Perhaps we can take this country back to it’s Jeffersonian classical liberalism tradition step by step, instead of using a giant leap.”

Absolutely, but the incremental steps involve seceding from the state, not getting the state involved in more areas. In education there is a simple step that you can take… Take your children out of government schools. As more people do this, more children are free of state propaganda and the state schools have less reason for existing.

Brad Dexter March 7, 2006 at 12:41 pm

***Absolutely, but the incremental steps involve seceding from the state, not getting the state involved in more areas. In education there is a simple step that you can take… Take your children out of government schools. As more people do this, more children are free of state propaganda and the state schools have less reason for existing.***

Easier said than done when the State (at all levels) is taking 1/3 to 1/2 of your income NOW, including already charging you for the education system that you’d be abandoning. It would be near impossible for even the middle of the middle-class on down to have private education and still save for the inevitable painful redistribution of wealth that is going to take place to remedy the entrenched socialism. Many simply aren’t going to be able to cashflow twice the payments for one education.

Curt Howland March 7, 2006 at 1:32 pm

Brad, liberty isn’t easy.

Complete k-12 curriculum, $200, minus math books at $50 each year (depending on student speed, of course), http://www.robinsoncurriculum.com/

The “high price of education” is disproven every day by relatively poor home-schooling families. It doesn’t take money to teach reading, writing and

Curt Howland March 7, 2006 at 1:38 pm

Brad, liberty isn’t easy.

Complete k-12 curriculum, $200, minus math books at $50 each year (depending on student speed, of course), http://www.robinsoncurriculum.com/

The “high price of education” is disproven every day by relatively poor home-schooling families. It doesn’t take much money to teach reading, writing and mathematics, it takes time and a little organization (as in being organized). There are hundreds if not thousands of home-school groups in the US alone, even if many of them are annoyingly xtian.

Odds are you’re going to have a computer dial-up link available (at least), and once online there is no subject for which no information for the curious student is not available.

For $300, have a course in Economics from Mises.org.

Now, if you want to argue “that you have no money left over after the state takes it, so you might as well use the services you already paid for”, that’s your choice. I suggest you realize that the damage the government does is far worse once they have your child in their hands than the mere loss of money in your pocket accounts for.

R.P. McCosker March 7, 2006 at 1:47 pm

homeimprovementninja writes that “I don’t think we should make the perfect the enemy of the good.”

True enough, only that isn’t the issue here. Vouchers make things worse, not better. They destroy the independence of private schools, and of those who use private schools. Indeed, that was the very point of this thread, which you don’t even allude to: Aided colleges (near all) must accept military recruitment, or they’re de facto out of business. That was already true regarding “Affirmative Action” and “Equal Opportunity Employment”.

In France and Belgium, vouchers have de facto forced the elimination of religious content from the Catholic schools.

Vouchers aren’t a case of splitting the difference with the status quo. They’re surrender of our remaining freedom to the State.

Curt Howland March 7, 2006 at 1:52 pm

Ninja, there is something you need to understand about our opponents in the battle for Liberty: They are utterly ruthless. They have been keeping their goals of total state control firmly in mind the entire time, and pestering, nagging, browbeating everyone else into little compromises just to shut them up. They take each little “step”, and then always push for more because they have their goals.

“Our” goal of living peacefully always loses, because they will never leave us in peace no matter what we try to appease them with.

Hoping for incrementalism is in vain. “We” must push constantly for full Liberty at every turn. Let them offer compromise. Let them try to buy us off with little steps. That is how so many CCW states came into existence in such a short time.

But like with CCW licenses, vouchers are not a goal. Unless the real goal of completely removing the State from education is kept always at the forefront, the only thing that vouchers will do is lose us our resolve. People will become complacent, thinking they have gained something, and will stop pushing. Then, when faced with browbeating and nagging about “ensuring tax money is spent well”, those who desire state control with then gain control of the private schools they never had control of before.

Vouchers are a perfect argument for abolishing home-schooling, for example. After all, if you have a “choice” already, there is no rational reason for asserting yet another choice. Unless, of course, like in California, the system then concludes someone who wants to home-school to be doing so only for evil, corrupt reasons that justify state intervention lest the molestation and abuse continue.

Yancey Ward March 7, 2006 at 2:24 pm

Vouchers, as presently constructed, are going to destroy private education that accepts them. I think there is no way around this.

If you believe in vouchers, I would put my efforts into having all levels of government to allow full tax credit for the education expenses of children. To my mind, this is the only avenue of real success short of the total abolishment of public education- a worthy goal, but seemingly out of grasp at the moment.

Curt Howland March 7, 2006 at 3:31 pm

Yancy, even a full tax credit wouldn’t do beans for me, for instance. The entire cost of my child’s education to date is something on the order of $75 on lots of kids books to read to her, including shipping and a $25 reading book called “Right Track Reading” http://www.righttrackreading.com/ that has provided the structure to have my 3-year old reading sentences in about a week.

I don’t expect that a trip to the state zoo, 400 miles away, is going to count toward the tax credit either. How about just not take the money for “state” schooling in the first place? Since the people without children don’t get the tax credit either, it’s just another welfare program with a fancy name.

Keith March 8, 2006 at 7:08 am

Qoute from Curt Howland: “Yancy, even a full tax credit wouldn’t do beans for me, for instance. The entire cost of my child’s education to date is something on the order of $75 on lots of kids books to read to her, including shipping and a $25 reading book called “Right Track Reading” http://www.righttrackreading.com/ that has provided the structure to have my 3-year old reading sentences in about a week.”

I think the point of the tax credit idea would be that you wouldn’t be taxed to pay for public schools to begin with, but you would be expected to pay for all of the educational expenses of your children: tuition, books, trips to the zoo, everything. Then you could deduct those educational expenses on your income tax. I would guess that in a couple of years your child’s education will cost more than $100, so your tax credit (and direct educational costs) would be substantial under this idea.

I would also guess that a broad majority of Americans would find it totally outrageous that they would be expected to directly pay for the education of their children.

Janie March 8, 2006 at 8:59 am

“I would also guess that a broad majority of Americans would find it totally outrageous that they would be expected to directly pay for the education of their children.”

You’re probably right. It is rather pathetic that millions of adults are so dependent on education welfate, that they would forgo the emotional, psychological and intellectual well being of their children in order to hold onto the welfare.

As one writer pointed out, the costs of homeschooling is not very high, unless you choose to buy expensive, razzle dazzle curriculum. Even as the child growns older, the costs are not onerous.

There is a “free university” (it’s not free since we do pay for it), called the public library. And, again, a wise writer pointed out – the internet. Anything you ever wanted to know, right at your fingertips.

Since biological parents expect the state to act as parents of their children by paying for and directing those children’s education, then biological parents should not object to their relegated role as simply breeders for the state. The state is always and quite comfortable in its role as parens patrie.

Taking personal responsibility for ones own children is not rocket science, perhaps only to those who really do not want the responsibility.

Ron March 9, 2006 at 5:48 am

Whenever this argument comes up I always try to remind myself of the following. Parents already have education choices. YOU decide what school district to live. YOU can take advantage, as noted already, to use a charter, private, or even home school. YOU must be responsible to monitor and be proactive in your own child’s education even if it means, gasp, providing additional educational activities outside the school curriculum. Ultimately, all people have the right to vote for their local school board or run for the board. You may also attend meetings, ask questions, and demand action. If we as a society are so lazy as to not do so, then we deserve no better.

Keith March 9, 2006 at 7:21 am

Quote from Ron: “Whenever this argument comes up I always try to remind myself of the following. Parents already have education choices. YOU decide what school district to live. YOU can take advantage, as noted already, to use a charter, private, or even home school. YOU must be responsible to monitor and be proactive in your own child’s education even if it means, gasp, providing additional educational activities outside the school curriculum. Ultimately, all people have the right to vote for their local school board or run for the board. You may also attend meetings, ask questions, and demand action. If we as a society are so lazy as to not do so, then we deserve no better.”

So we should embrace statism. Embrace socialism. Become part of the collective.

I have no interest is this sort of society. I have a different “better” in mind. If I’m going to put forth an effort it will be to destroy this corruption, not support it.

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