The Devil and Milton Friedman

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The Los Angeles Times provides a pretty respectful story about libertarian luminary Milton Friedman, focused on his efforts to fight the madness of public schools. But it gives the piece a curious headline on the web: "A Satanic Idea?"

Link and alert to the headline thanks to The Agitator.

My 1995 feature interview with Friedman.

A more recent interview conducted by Nick Gillespie on Friedman's legacy of fighting for school choice.

NEXT: The Libertarian Party Marches On

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  1. Friedman is a beautiful man. After reading the Foutainhead, I became disgusted with libertarian ideas, but reading Friedman showed me that you can believe in freedom and not be a lunatic cunt like Ayn Rand.

    I’ve never supported libertarian ideas because I thought they were morally right. I’ve liked them more because they are the most logical system of setting up a society. Uncle Milty (and his wang) played a great role in setting up the logical and mathematical underpinnings to prove this.

  2. The libertarian ideal of dismantling socialized education is a tough sell, but school choice could appeal to voters. Does ANYONE like the current system that distorts the real estate market, contributes to “sprawl”, locks the poorest kids into the worst schools, costs more, AND fails to educate?

    John Stossel did a great show on how broken US public education is: You Tube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfRUMmTs0ZA

  3. There are a myriad pragmatic reasons to favor school choice. I notice that many of the LAT commenters seemed ignorant of the long-lived and successful “experiment” with vouchers here in Milwaukee, which is only available to kids from low-income families. Similar programs in Ohio have not caused the end of the world, either. Lawsuits have torpedoed choice efforts in Florida, though. The opponents also seem to fear schools run for a profit. Almost all private schools are run on a not-for-profit basis, just as most universities and colleges are.

    But the school choice/voucher/privatization issue is a moral one. The government has no more business forming the minds of the citizenry by running the elementary and secondary education of children than it does operating churches, publishing companies or broadcasting outlets. That schools and/or education were left out of the First Amendment is a result of the fact that during the Revolutionary period so few children were educated by anyone other than their parents or their church.

    Kevin

  4. Every episode of the 1980 PBS special Free To Choose is available on Google Video. The pertinent episode here would be Vol. 6: What’s Wrong With Our Schools?

  5. Unlike (I think) most libertarians, I did not start with Rand, but with Free to Choose, which I randomly happened upon on PBS one night – a light went on. Then I watched all the episodes. Then I read the book. Then I went to a Cato seminar in NH and met Walter Williams, Ed Crane, David Boaz, Roy Childs, and others.

    THEN someone mentioned Rand, and we walked down to the Dartmouth bookstore and I bought the Fountainhead.

    Friedman is my hero, although I’m not as big a fan of vouchers as he is. I think it’s an improvement, but still involves the gov’t too much (as in taking my money for others).

  6. I read the phrase “madness of public schools” and thought, wow, that’s pretty extreme for Reason. Not a good way to shed the “libertarians are nuts” image.

    Then I scrolled down and see that Brian Doherty just returned from the Libertarian Party National Convention and now it all makes sense.

  7. kevrob said

    “. The government has no more business forming the minds of the citizenry by running the elementary and secondary education of children than it does operating churches, publishing companies or broadcasting outlets.”

    I would agree but with some caveats. That while the government has no business telling us what to think, there are some things it should forbid to be taught, or to indicate its displeasure.

    I mean, what if the result of school choice is the setting up of madrassas, financed by the Government of Saudi Arabia, with plenty of financial aid for poor kids to enrol? That’s what happened in Pakistan, where the collapse of public education led to a flourishin of those private academies where they teach children to go on jihad against corrupt Western societies? Should’t the Government have something to say as to what is actually taught? Make sure that “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” are not part of the curriculum, say?

    As for the Governmetn having nothing to say about religion, well, that is because there has not been a neo-Aztec revival, with Queztacoatl worshippers tearing out the hearta of living victims, skinning them, wearing their skins, and cooking the reminder for their feasts… Or because hindus living here do not attempt to burn widows alive….

  8. Herrick, if you’re going to say odious and ridiculous things like that about Rand, it’s obvious you don’t know anything about her or the philosophy. There are valid criticisms, and then there’s idiotic and unfounded spew like yours.

  9. After reading the Foutainhead, I became disgusted with libertarian ideas

    You’re painting Rand with the wrong brush, Mr. Balls. She despised libertarians. Your gripe seems to be with objectivism…you know, the real world.

  10. Adriana:

    The Milwaukee school choice program has standards. Several schools have been disqualified for corruption, incompetence, etc. We also have a perfectly good school run by the local Islamic Center in the program. Just this year the state rewrote the regulations to require accreditation by one or another of the organizations that certify private schools.

    Some years ago a school choice initiative was attempted via initiative in California. The status quo edublob ran commercials warning people that independent schools would teach witchcraft and Satanism. Don’t fall into that trap.

    Kevin

  11. Adriana,

    Don’t forget schools that teach a belief in an infinite afterlife. After all, if your time on earth is but one hundred years, everything you do here should be to further your chances to make it to the good side of infinity. That could inspire people to do the wrong thing.

    Or think what bad things could happen to a capitalist society were import placed on the idea that the love of money is the root of all evil.

    Shirley we’re screwed if the government doesn’t tell us what not to think.

  12. I had the honor of sitting down to ask some of the people behind the California school choice initiative why they think it failed. If I recall correctly, they said the biggest factor was parents afraid their children wouldn’t be able to get into the neighborhood school. The neighborhood school is, after all, a center of social activity, not just a place where you learn stuff. They also had reason to believe that the not-so-nice side of the parents’ rejection of the initiative was a concern about the wrong color of kids attending the local school.

  13. GM cars suck, I think I’ll negotiate a higher price for them with the car dealer. Sound stupid? This is what we do with public schools. Public schools suck, so we give them more money. Is there any other industry we do that with?

    Competition is necessary so that the bad gets driven out. Vote Vouchers Yes!

  14. Made ya look, made ya look!

  15. Does ANYONE like the current system that distorts the real estate market, contributes to “sprawl”, locks the poorest kids into the worst schools, costs more, AND fails to educate?

    The teacher’s unions?

  16. Mark Borok,

    As far as libertarian ideas go, criticizing the public school system as “mad” is relatively middle-of-the-road. I think that many other ideas embraced by significant numbers of libertarians — for example, privatizing the justice system and military, eliminating fiat currency, totally opening immigration, and legalizing all drugs — would be seen as much more “nuts” to the average US citizen.

    Thinking that the current public education system is broken is one area where a lot of non-libertarians agree with libertarians, although the two sides might always not always have the same ideas on what to do about it.

  17. I see that the people in Milwaukee have some common sense. Yes, the parents should be able to choose a school, but the Goverment should be able to determine what is an acceptable school or not. Satanism in schools is far-fetched, radical islamism is not. (In Spain the problem is called iskastolas, schools in Basque Country which are notorious for teaching rabid nationalism to thei students, and admiration for ETA terrorismo).

    And anon2, if it shocks you that schools teach belief in a future afterlife, then you should fight tooth and nail against privatizing schools, since a great deal of private schools are run by churches, who love the chance to proselitize (Histoircal aside, public education, and the fight against private education was originally an anti-catholic issue. You could not allow Papists to teach children to worship the Pope…). Private school means Sister Mary Magdalene hitting children’s knuckles with a ruler, and inspiring in them the horror of sex, while scaring them with stories of Hell…

  18. Adriana,

    Not only do I not need the government to tell me what not to think, I believe it’s counter-productive. I think it would be great if schools were allowed to teach satanism or “radical islamism” for the very same reason I think it would be great if schools were allowed to teach Catholicism, Lutherism, Scientology or atheism.

    You want special favors for some religions. I think that’s a horrible idea. You may be right though, special favors for popular religions may indeed be “common sense”, but so are a lot of other bad ideas.

    Privatize the schools and show no favor to particular religions, religion in general or to lack of religion. Give birth to ’em all; let the market sort it out.

  19. Adriana,

    Parents who want their children to be taught militant Islam will find a way to do it, whether it’s through the voucher-funded school or not. The govt’s role should be limited to setting objective standards in the traditional subjects (reading, writing, math, science) and leaving the rest to the discretion of the parents and school. If you don’t want your kids taught Wiccan rites, don’t send them to such a school.

  20. BTW, the first school we should privatize is Penn State. 🙂

    Kevin

  21. crimethink:

    The problem is not that children should be taught Wiccan rites, but that they should be taught to take literally “Thou shall not suffer a witch to live” and that they have to go kill Wiccans.

    Or that they should be taught that “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” describes reality and that Jews are consipiring to enslave and destroy them. What are you going to say “If you do not want your children to believe that the Protocols of the Elders of Zion is the gospel truth just don’t send them to that school”?

    “Or it is none of our business if the hinduist school teaches its students that it is OK to burn widows alive” And “If you do not want to burn widows, no one is forcing you to.”

    Just be thankful that there is no neo-Aztec Church, where they teach children that to get a good harvest you are supposed to tear the living heart of somebody…

    Unfortunately it **is** our business what our neighbors teach their children, because some of these teachings sanction violence against the rest of us.

  22. “[W]hen I told [A.J. Duffy, the cocky president of United Teachers Los Angeles] I was going to visit Friedman, he smirked. ?I don?t think public education can work on the profit paradigm,? he said. ?It?s ludicrous.?

    I guess it all depends on your definition of profit, and whose pocket it goes into.

  23. Adriana,
    We have something called a right to free speech and freedom of religion in America so actually it isn’t our business what our neighbors believe, no matter how wacky we think those beliefs are. The logic here is that if we leave speech and religion open to the political winds we might one day find our own beliefs and speech suppressed.

    Secondly, all the major religions have a fundamentalist side to them. The problem isn’t necessarily the religions but how the people interpret them. Most sane Hindus do not advocate the burning of widows. Most sane Christians do not literally advocate plucking your eye out “if it offends thee.” I know of no cases in America where the insane fundamentalist view of Hinduism has taken hold and widows have actually thrown themselves on the funeral pyre (then again, if they did this voluntarily, then it isn’t necessarily our business). Unfortunately, some of the fundamentalism of Christianity has occasionally flowed out to affect us. Yet, it does not follow that Christians should then be not allowed to promote their faith to others or to their children. We do not know how people will act on their faith, how they will interpret it, what they will do *ahead of time*. We can only act on the actions of others. Are those actions aggressive attacks on our own freedoms or persons? If yes, then we restrict the actions.
    It’s like drinking and driving. Yes, drinking and driving is a problem. But it doesn’t follow that because drinking and driving is a problem then *drinking* itself is a problem that needs legal enforcement. We do not know what different people will do after they have had a drink. Such reasoning actually protects us all from an overly aggressive police state that would be constantly in our faces, trying to determine our thought crimes before the actions we took based on those thoughts.

    Oh, and for the record, Satanism and Wiccan are not the same. Wiccan is mostly a made up pantheist religion that’s kind of a soft and fuzzy sort of new age type of belief. Nothing in it about burning people, having orgies with the dead, with babies, etc.

  24. I need to amend my last statement. I should have said that Wiccan is a *modern construction* where a few people cobbled together a number of older pantheist beliefs combining them with some new ageist types of beliefs. I guess all religions are made up in a sense though some evolved slowly and more organically over time with no known creators – Hinduism, Judaism, etc.

  25. ah, diogenes jim bob:

    Of course most people of any religion do not preach nor practice the most extreme fundamentalist portions of their religion.

    But that does not solve the problem of what to do when those few benighted souls set up a school to teach their children the “true version” of their faith.

    Most hindus would not burn widows alive. But what do you do with the ones who do? Most Christians do not participate in progroms against the Jewish neighbors, but what do you do with the ones who do? In the name of freedom of expression and religion would you allow a priest to rile up his congregation against the “Children of the Devil” and lead them forth to purge the evil from their midst?

    (Remember, historically, that was how a lot of progroms started, one hothead priest and his obedient flock).

    There is no need for the Goverment to say what religions are allowed and what not, but it has a duty to demand that certain elements of religion be suppressed.

    As for human sacrifice, it is a constant in belief systems – check Frazer’s “The Golden Bough” to make you wonder not why people do it, but why they stopped..

    Personally I would like to think that the nice muslim children that I meet on the street do not think that I am whore for not wearing a burka, and should be treated accordingly, but I know that to get that “live and let live result” takes some effort, expense, and some supervision as to what they are taught.

    (I remember on the subject this advice to political candidates. “It is OK to share in certain Irish customs like celebrating St Paddy’ day by wearing green. It is not OK to share other Irish customs such as blowing up English trains”)

  26. “There is no need for the Goverment to say what religions are allowed and what not, but it has a duty to demand that certain elements of religion be suppressed.”

    But have you thought about the practical implications of what this would mean? Not only in terms of whether we would be getting a more violent or less violent society this way but also whether the cost would too high? And then also the legal ramifications and precedents this would set? Every religion is based on a book or a set of books that can be interpreted from several different angles. Anyone reading through the Bible, the Koran, the Vedas, etc. could potentially come to the conclusion to act violently based on his interpretation of what was actually being said. To follow through on the implications of your comment, ‘suppress certain elements of religion’ the government would have to then use its censorial powers to confiscate all books in all homes, schools, and churches, then attempt to root out any references to violence (and good luck with that as there is so much metaphor and proverbial information that can go either way). Then the government would also need to station officers in all the schools to insure that no teachers were advocating any sort of violence or teaching any elements of then suppressed materials. And then of course, since we’ve set the precedent that we want the government to monitor and censor any teachings that could potentially lead to violence of any sort, the government would then also have to go through all the works of literature and suppress these as well, as we don’t know how people would react from reading Animal Farm, the Declaration of Independence, 1984, A Clockwork Orange, Les Miserables, Huckleberry Finn, the Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged, Lord of the Rings, the Catcher In the Rye (I’m thinking of a famous assassin in this last one, any guesses anyone?) etc. Sure, most sane people are not going to go on a rampage after reading such books, but what are you going to do about the few who do? If I follow your reasoning, it makes sense for the government to suppress such material as we have to protect ourselve from the few benighted ones who would act violently from such material. Then again, the irony is that people who read through the Declaration of Independence and then advocated violence were advocating it to overthrow a government they felt was too powerful, a government that was not unlike the government you are advocating (though actually, I think the British were perhaps much milder than what you are advocating).

    So we have to look at our real world options. Sure, if we have open schooling, just as if we have an open society in general, there’s always a risk of dangerous or offensive elements becoming available. Yet, when the government, and its police power, becomes too powerfully intrusive into our lives, that also leads to danger and violence – from the police themselves or from elements reacting to the abuse of the police and the government. And in general, the dangers of the latter, a too powerful government, are much greater than the former, an open society. With the former, we allow the government to aggressively prosecute any sort of aggression. We let potential terrorists, Christian or Muslim know, that their terrorism will be pursued and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. And if the police did not have such distractions in going after consensual activities such as drug usage (which greatly slows down and inhibits their ability to handle the violent) they’d be able to do a much better job – in other words, a consistent defense of the open society would also increase our safety.

    You also have to ask yourself if the kind of government you are advocating would leave to a society worth living in. Would you really want the government poking its nose into every book available, seeking out potentially violent material, and then censoring that out? Would you really want a government that would station political thought officers in every classroom to insure the teachings did not run astray of what the officials deemed dangerous? And remember this is politics. Just because you have in your mind the idea of only going after the religious teachings of Christians, Muslims, and Hindus you deem to be violent, what makes you think that once this motion is set in motion, that your faction is going to get their way? It’s just as likely you would lose this battle – take a look at what the government textbooks teach about American history, about capitalism, about culture, about environmentalism, about the melting pot. Does this jive with your own views? If so, congratulations. If not, what makes you think you would have any greater ability to get the political winds to blow your way, once you set about a motion to “get the government to suppress dangerous teachings”? It’s just as likely that your opponents would win the day. The political winds will one day determine that any views that promote market solutions to the environment must be banned – and we have determined that the market itself is violent (don’t tell me you’ve never heard anyone complain about the ‘violence of the market’).

    So, there’s very good reason to not let our beliefs and ideas be held up to the government for scrutiny. A much more dangerous idea than the idea of an open society.

  27. I should add that the government would also need to station officers in all churches, mosques, and temples. Maybe I’m out of touch but this is not what most libertarians are advocating these days is it?

  28. diogenes:

    You seem to be in paranoid mood today. You talk as if I was speaking of hypothetical violent assaults of others motivated by religion, instead of focusing on those supported by historical instances, some quite recent. (some not so recent, true, when it comes to human sacrifices).

    At what point does freedom of religion becomes freedom to advocate mass slaughter of those who do not profess it? Is it too much to ask that there should be a check on certain behaviors, and incitements to certain behaviors, instead of being given a pass because “it is their religion”?

    In the name of freedom, would you disarm yourself in face of those who wish to do violence to you?

    We are talking of the specific case of madrassas, where good anti-Western terrorists come from. What is your position?

    Who was it that said that the Constitution is not a suicide pact? Well, neither is the love of freedom. I respect the freedom of those who seek to live peacefully. Those who are intent on murder forfeit that freedom.

  29. Adriana,
    You not only mentioned Islamic schools but pogroms from Christians against Jews, the protocols of the Elders of Zion, etc. But that’s really beside the point. It’s not paranoia, it’s about how the law works once it’s been passed, how it’s interpreted, the precedents that get set. What I’m trying to get at is that interpretations of the law do not stop at *your preferences* for how the law should be applied. A law is passed and then that sets a precedent. This is why so often, as the old saw goes, hard cases (let alone easy cases), make bad law. Secondly, once a law is passed political forces, other than your own, get involved and campaign to have the law interpreted in their favor.

    Now, you could try to pass off a law that would ban only the schools you object to, and only those schools. But since we have freedom of religion in this country, legal groups are going to want to know, what your criteria is. If you say, “Oh, it’s Islamic schools because they advocate violence against people who violate the tenets of their religion.” The first thing legal groups, such as the ACLU, will say will be, “Hmmm, a little problem with that. Many people and religions, if you look through their literature, could be said to do the same. And we aren’t going to be too excited about the passing of such a law as it will unwittingly rope in all kinds of groups, not only religious ones, that you never intended to get roped in under this law.” These groups are going to try to prevent you from doing an end run around the bill of rights, and for good reason. Those rights protect you as well.

    From a libertarian perspective there should definitely be a check on certain behaviors: any sort of physical assault or fraud should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. So, no, I’m not giving terrorist groups a free pass. And since I believe I have the right to defend myself then of course no, I would not disarm myself or advocate disarming the police.

    I think you do not see the danger in prosecuting not just actions but speech and thought that could *possibly* lead to those actions. Unwittingly, prosecuting speech and beliefs, can potentially rope in all of us as suspects so I prefer a robust interpretation of the Bill of Rights to the weak and arbitrary one you are advocating.

  30. Well, you prefer to overlook immediate danger out of concern for danger down the road. Yes, laws can be misapplied. All laws can. Is that a reason not to pass laws?

    At the moment there is an instance of private schools leading to danger to all of us. It is not hypothetical, it is not in the future. If we do not adjust our desires and expectations to adjust to this fact, we may be hurt, not in the long run, but very likely in the near future. Against that you pain a bleak picture on a farther future, which may or may not come to pass, and which will requiere the vigilance of all of us. But NOT NOW.

    I am making another aside about another thread, about the tendency of Catholics to try to embody Catholic doctrine into legistlation that covers both Catholics and non-Catholics, and how cranky that makes them feel. Catholics are encouraged, even urged to do so by their leaders, and part of the things that are taught in Catholic school is about their duty to spread the Gospel to the Heathens, (and Heretics, of course). Wouldn’t you like that someone could teach them not to attempt to legislate for non-Catholics? You can be sure that it not what Sister Mary Margaret, the one with the painful ruler teaches the kiddies. No, she teaches them it is their duty to help pass laws according to what the Holy Father says.

    Of course, you can say, they are free to teach them that, but then don’t complain when they try to do as Sister Mary Margaret told them to, to outlaw abortion and stem-cell research,and say how come they do not know not to infrige on the rights of non-Catolics? How could they know if they have not been taught?

    By the way, on the subject of indoctrinating kiddies, I don’t know if anyone has heard of Countss Markiewitz, the Irish heroine. She used to take poor Irish boys into her version of the Boy Scouts, go camping and all kinds of drill, including fireamrs, plus lectures on the evils of British Imperialism. She taught them that Boy Scouts were agents of Imperialism, so when they met one they should beat him up…

  31. Adriana,
    “Yes, laws can be misapplied. Is that a reason not to pass laws.”

    Well, yes, in many cases it is. It’s a reason to keep the law as streamlined and simple as possible and limited to negative rights.

    Your example of the Catholics trying to pass laws based on their beliefs actually is related to the point I’m trying to make. We want a robust enforcement of the Bill of Rights so that no religion, or its teachings, is either bannned *or sanctioned* by the government. We don’t want the law to sanction a particular religion as that would be extra-constitutional and an infringement on all of our rights just as we don’t want the law to suppress a particular religion for the same reason. We go after the actions of people, not their thoughts. Otherwise all of our thoughts will be suspect and easily roped in as potentially dangerous. Additionally, you’re not clear on what you’re proposing (the banning of Catholic and Muslim schools, officers stationed in those schools to make sure none of the stuff you disagree with is taught, banning of religious books, what?) how it would be enforced, and how other worldviews (religious works in general and other sorts of literature), not Islamic or Catholic, including your own worldview would not come under scutiny under the direction of the law; how would you manage to keep the legal beagles from interpreting the law in the only way you like?

    All law can be interpreted in directions we don’t always forsee. And ‘down the road’ might even come up sooner than you think. This is why we want a very streamlined set of laws, so that abuses of the law will be limited and our freedoms protected. Richard Epstein even wrote a book called “Six Simple Rules” that advocates winnowing out so many of our laws so as to limit the abuses of the kind of tribal politics you are unwittingly advocating.

    A good historical example of this is the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Opponents of the act were labeled as racist. And it’s quite possible some of them were. Advocates were probably very well meaning. But some of the opposition voiced their concern, also very well meaning, that how the law would be interpreted, and the scope of its reach, would not be limited by the vision of the proponents. The proponents said, “Oh no, that won’t happen. We won’t get quotas, we won’t move from the Constitutional protection of individual rights to group and racial rights, and then on to rights to other groups. Nope, you’re paranoid.” Guess what, that’s exactly what happened.

    This is not to say, that there are things that can be promoted in private spheres that can be a danger to us, if *acted* upon. That’s certainly true. But it’s even more true that a really heavy governmental hand in our schools and churches (even more so than it is now, which is what you seem to be advocating) would be an even more frightening scenario. If what you want is the government totally in charge of curriculum in not just the government schools but in the private ones as well, then you’d have even more incompetence, corruption, moral hazzard, and fewer options for people to learn ideas outside what the Mandarins in charge declare is acceptable for us to learn. Already the government schools teach us that capitalism is a dirty word, that free markets abuse people, that our Framers were just a bunch of slave holders – their contributions limited. The Constitution, and the thinking behind it, are poorly taught so that when people become adult voting citizens, not knowing what’s actually in the Constitution, they seek end runs around it to just grap at what they can get – not knowing that such behavior can come back to hit them in the face, when their own group loses popularity. American life has been already greatly diminished and made less free and more dangerous by government schooling. And you want the government to play an even more powerful role?

    Minority groups get the worst of this – and when they finish school their best options sometimes seem like gang life, as they’ve been taught few useful skills in the schools.

    If we followed Friedman’s vision we’d have much more choice, our children would be better taught, and the position of minority groups would improve in society. In terms of costs and benefits, the benefits of the Friedman option far outweigh the costs. And let me take the time to say that Friedman is really one of the class acts in the libertarian movement. I haven’t always agreed with his positions but I think that if his vision were adopted American life would be exponentially freer and safer than it is today. Additionally, I only wish more of us, myself included, could emulate his gentlemanly decorum. Too often libertarians are tarred as uber-individualists, selfish, immature, maliciously sarcastic, etc. But the family man Friedman has always been a class act. It’s important to remember as people are not often convinced by reason or by reason alone. People are more often convinced by examples of good role models, by arguments that appeal to their hearts as much as their minds, as well.

  32. diogenes:

    I wish I could dig out the Edmund Burke quotation of those who cannot imagine any alternative between total anarchy and the most brutal despotism (and for him total anarchy was a **bad** idea). Somehow it is all or nothing.

    Which makes for inaction. Because if you think to avoild one alternative, you will refrain from trying to right any wrongs you see. Because, if you fear anarchy, you fear that agitating to right that wrong will start you on the path to complete civil disorder. If you fear despotism, you fear that any attempt to right that wrong will lead to legislation and to increasing the power of Governemtn. So the safest thing is do nothing.

    You mentioned the Civil Rights laws. Yes, they have had bad consequences down the road. Should there have been no civil rights laws passed? Should blacks be treated as second class citizens in order so that we may all enjoy greater freedom in the future? Or take the Civil War. It is true, it led to many unwanted consequences. Should slavery then have been perpetuated so that we may ourselves (the slaves excepted) enjoy more freedom? Our involvement in World War II led to quite a number of unpleasant consequences. Should we have let Hitler and Stalin dominate Europe, with quite unplesant consequences for us?

    **Anything** that we do, or choose not do may have unplesant consequences in the future. The law of unintended consequences does not just work for those actions we disapprove of. Quite a number of actions that we approve of will have unintended consequences too.

    We have to learn to a certain extent to let the future take care of itself.

    As for school choice, I think that when Friedman wrote about it, the phenomenon of madrassas was unknown. I do not doubt, that being the intelligent man that he is, he would have amended his theory to allow for a way to suppress such “schools” while allowing the others to flourish.

  33. I’m not going to repeat all my arguments. Better to just try to read through them again. Perhaps it’s my mistake in not articulating it better. But just a few points of clarification. I didn’t mention civil rights laws. I mentioned the specific Civil Rights Act of 1964. For civil rights to be improved what was needed was to overturn the discriminatory Jim Crow laws. Then the courts needed to enforce equality before the law. So, in any case, that’s a straw man of yours – along with some of your other comments. I was speaking about how the law works – the Civil War and World War 2 are completely irrelevant to that argument.

    Yes, anything we do will have consequences, that’s my point as well. Additionaly, in the real world, we have to deal with real world options. Your proposal, of much more government control of the schools and churches, is a far worse alternative than allowing a greater amount of private schools to proliferate (and that’s not anarchy what I’m proposing, as the police, jails, and courts would still be there to punish the violent – again, nice attempt at a straw man). I made all my arguments already for why I think the dangers are *greater* (and as I said before, I am not saying there won’t be dangers with less government involvement in schools, just that the dangers are greater with *more*) under what you are suggesting so I won’t repeat them here.

  34. Well, my point is that at some point some “schools” have to be not allowed. The threshold of proof, the obnoxiousness of their teachings, the likelihood that violence will result, as well as the mechanism used has to be established.

    But you have to have the Government at some point, because at some point force will have to be applied (police). And that means the Government.

    The area of action reserved for teh Governemnt can be as small as you like. But there has to be one. There has to be the authority to close a school when the circunstances warrant it. There has to be a way for a judge to issue a warrant, and for the police to enforce it. There has to be a mechanism to revoque a charted, given the necessary proof that certain laws are being broken, and that students are taught to disrespect the law of the land.

    As to the mechanism itself, it is open to negotiation.

  35. diogenes:

    You said it yourself: police, jail and the courts.

    What else do you think that Governmetn is????? REmember you cannot have police, jail, and the courts unless there are laws that are being infringed. If the existing laws are enough to make effective the police, jail and courts, then no new laws are given. IF there are loopholes by which madrassas escape the purview of police, jail, and the courts, hten those loophopes should be closed.

    That’s my concern. That in privatizing we may inadvertently create such loopholes.

    But you prefer to demonize me than to consider the possibility.. Do you really use your reason, or prefer just to worship it, like in the Frech Revolution?

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