The growing literature against "free" public schooling, including your excellent issue (REASON, March/April 1971), still seems to neglect that monolithic institution's role in perpetuating poverty.
First, the burden of state and local taxes to finance school falls most heavily on those with modest incomes, including uneducated and childless poor. Families with annual incomes under $2,000 pay 44% of their income in taxes. Those with incomes between $2,000 and $4,000 received 11% of their 1965 incomes from government "welfare," but they paid 27% in taxes.
Second, since poor families can't support an unemployed member for, say, 23 years, the majority of students in public colleges come from families of above-average wealth. A four year college education apparently raises lifetime earnings by about $150,000, which can be capitalized through student loans.
This tremendous windfall to the student, we are often told, should be a free gift from persons who lacked the income or intelligence to enable them to attend state colleges!
"Free" education transfers income from the uneducated to the educated, from private college users to public college beneficiaries, from those considerate enough to limit family size to those who don't, and from today's poor and disadvantaged to tomorrow's rich and privileged.
Education is too important and private a matter to be handled by anything so clumsy and unresponsive as the current blend of politicians and smug administrators. Let the state and cities return the stolen tax monies to the students and their families, and let individuals choose which institutions, classes, and teachers will receive their tuition fees.
This would infuse a now static, dreary, and irrelevant business with the imagination and awareness that only the fear of losing customers can bring. Administrative objections about the quality and variety of schooling that would develop, by catering directly to individual preferences, simply betray paternalistic contempt for parents and students.
Congratulations to R.A. Childs, Jr. for his scholarly and masterly intellectual expose (REASON, "Big Business and the Rise of American Statism," February and March 1971) of another of the myths which have been perpetuated by Ayn Rand and Objectivists in general—namely the myth of businessmen being "America's persecuted minority."
With enough articles like this, who knows—Objectivists may just come to a dim awareness of the incredible moral contradiction they entertain in espousing as virtuous, the concept of "limited government" and "capitalism."
Richard B. Perkins
St. Thomas, Ontario
R.A. Childs, Jr's article (REASON, "Big Business and the Rise of American Statism," February 1971) explodes the myth of "innocent" businessmen uninvolved in the growth of statism and is well taken. However, Mr. Childs is wrong in attributing what he calls a "conservative" viewpoint to Miss Rand and the Objectivists, as the following quotations show: from "America's Persecuted Minority Big Business" (one of Childs' source documents), "Elements of statism were present in her [America's] economy from the start…there existed another kind of businessmen, the products of a mixed economy, the men with political pull, who who made fortunes by means of political privileges." (Rand, Ayn CAPITALISM: THE UNKNOWN IDEAL, pp. 48-49); and, more conclusively, "The tragic irony of that whole issue [government vs. business] is the fact that the antitrust laws were created…by the so-called 'conservatives,' the alleged defenders of free enterprise." (same, p. 52). Miss Rand a conservative?
Furthermore, in her "Notes on the History of American Free Enterprise," Rand concludes: "So long as a government holds the power of economic control, it will necessarily create a special 'elite,' an 'aristocracy of pull'.…" (same, p. 108). Mr. Childs does a disservice if he means to cast doubt on the philosophical principles of free enterprise by an expose of personal actions of Carnegie, Morgan, etc.
Los Angeles, Calif.
I agree with the conclusions that Jim Wilson reached in his article "Fed Up With Rock" (REASON, June, 1971) as they apply to most of those who call themselves rock fans and to most groups, which (as is the case in most fields of endeavor, but perhaps more so in rock music) are fourth- and fifth-rate imitators of the relatively few true creators (after all, how many execrable symphonies moulder mercifully forgotten for every Beethoven masterpiece?)
However, Wilson fell into most of the pitfalls that ensnare most "outside" criticism of rock music. In the first place, he divided all music into two categories: "serious music" and the rest presumably lumped as "rock." How could he fail to see the difference between Tom Jones (who sings popular music), Brasil 66 (bossa nova), and Swingle Singers (who defy categorization but are, I suppose, more Muzak than anything else), and the bona fide (if inferior) rock groups mentioned? If he is unfamiliar with non-"serious" music, should he write on the subject?
He further displayed his ignorance in the failure to mention any of the musicians generally regarded as seminal to the field. For example, Bill Haley and the Comets and Little Richard, who virtually invented the genre in the early fifties. Above all, how could he have omitted the group that is without doubt the greatest group of all—the Beatles (by the way, to see the use, of classical techniques in rock, try the horn work in "Penny Lane" or the strings in "Eleanor Rigby")? Whether any of their work will survive as long as Beethoven's or Mozart's remains to be seen; however, any critique of the field of rock music that fails to take them into account can only be described as superficial.
Erwin S. Strauss
Santa Barbara, Calif.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Letters".