Debate: “It is the duty of government to educate its citizens.”

Below is the opening argument I made during an Oxford-style debate on public education, hosted by the New York Political Forum in New York City on February 22nd, 2017. My partner Roberto Guzman and I argued the dissenting view, with me focusing on the philosophic arguments and Rob focusing on the economic and statistical arguments. We managed to increase the number of audience members who also held the dissenting view from 2% before the start of the debate to 20% after its conclusion. (Reading time 5 minutes.)

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Education and Western Civilization (published in New York Post)

[Note: This letter refers to a report that the UK is rewriting its history books to omit references to the holocaust, for the sake of not offending Muslim students.]

England’s decision to teach lies rather than facts, for the sake of not offending anti-Western Muslim racists, may mark a turning point in history.

Western civilization is the civilization where reason replaces faith. It is through the application of reason to human problems that knowledge, science, industry, freedom, prosperity and health come to replace ignorance, superstition, manual labor, enslavement, poverty, sickness and death.

The existence of these values depend on Western civilization; similarly, the existence of Western civilization depends on its intellectual substance being transmitted to the young through the process of education. Far from being guaranteed, Western civilization and its values can and will be destroyed to the extent that this process is brought to a halt. The end of the road of such a process would be a return to the dark ages.

Private Business vs. Public Monopoly (published in Newsday)

Imagine if Microsoft created substandard products and was able to force all working Americans to pay for them, whether they used them or not, and to force its unsubsidized competitors to only offer products that were essentially similar. Would that be anti-competitive?

Of course, this is not a description of Microsoft—a company that has achieved dominance by offering superior products in a free market—but of our public school system. How ironic, then, and yet how proper, that Joel Klein, the vicious and economically ignorant man who tried to destroy America’s greatest company, should now be appointed head dictator of a true monopoly [“The New Chancellor: Meet the New Boss,” News, July 30].

Public Education vs. Free Speech

The taxpayer- sponsored sex conference at SUNY-New Paltz is instructive for the light it sheds on the issues of public education and free speech.

The first amendment protects the rights of private citizens to express ideas without fear of being stopped by government-initiated coercion. Public education, on the other hand, uses the threat of government-initiated coercion (i.e., taxation) to confiscate money from private citizens in order to promote ideas that they may not agree with, indeed, ideas that they may well consider to be false and vicious. Thus, contrary to the claims of New Paltz president Roger Bowen, the dissemination of ideas in publicly funded schools is not only not protected by the First Amendment but is an indirect violation of the first amendment rights of the taxpayers.

For example, because of this situation, a person such as myself, who actively works to promote the political ideas of John Locke, Thomas Jefferson and Ayn Rand, is forced to also spend a portion of each day working to promote the political ideas of Karl Marx and his intellectual heirs. This is one reason among many why education, as well as all other fields dealing with the dissemination of ideas, should be and must be made private.