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Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Problem(s) With Compulsory Education

Source - (CC)

Contributor Ben Bryan has been leading the charge for school choice (I think we should start calling it "Freedom of Education" just like we call the freedom to pick your own religion "Freedom of Religion" has a nice ring to it.) in his last couple posts here and here, so I thought I'd weigh in on the discussion with another fantastic article for you to read.

Before linking to it, let me say that the debate over freedom of education frustrates me so much- because there isn't one. People aren't willing to debate it. Typically when I bring it up in conversation, the assertion that government should not provide compulsory education is immediately rejected before I even have a chance to make an argument. Most people's automatic reaction is to dismiss it as silly or too radical.

We've got a lot of fighting to do in order to change people's minds. Here's some more ammo:

From: The Political Economy of Force-Feeding

----> By: Anthony de Jasay

In Mauritania, many parents caring for their girls' future wellbeing send them at a tender age to board with women specialising in fattening them up by amiable but relentless force-feeding. Like most African men, Mauritanians prefer them well-rounded, and a girl who frankly bulges has a good chance of finding a rich husband, while a slim girl may have to content herself with being found by a poor one. Money may not make the girl happy, but the parents are nevertheless following a kind of economic rationale in having her force-fed. One does not know whether the rich husband will be nicer or on the contrary nastier than a poor one would be. With even chances of either outcome, rational choice must opt for the rich husband, for happy or unhappy, the girl will at least be more comfortable in the rich household.

There is a remote analogy between parents force-feeding their daughters with food and states force-feeding the children of their subjects with compulsory education. In both cases, compulsion is motivated by benevolent paternalism, though one might think that there is more excuse for parents acting paternalistically than the state doing so in loco parentis. However, the analogy stops here anyway. In particular, the results are not analogous at all.

Read the rest of the article here.


  1. Great blog!

    You should check this one out too:

  2. Thanks. Next time just shoot me an e-mail though... I'm more than glad to add good libertarian blogs and websites to my links page. But if you have any good comments on the posts, you are welcome and heartily invited to offer them!