Against Public Education
Editorial by R.C. Hoiles, The Register, October 15, 1945
The amount of space The Register is devoting to the junior college bond issue might cause some to think we are overestimating the importance of the issue. There is nothing more important than the principles back of the issue.
The issue is much more than the money involved. The issue is whether or not we continue to march toward state socialism and abandon more and more the belief in individual responsibility and give only lip service to respecting individual initiative.
The issue can be summed down to this: Can people develop character by having a double standard of what is right?
The junior college bond issue is only one battle in the titanic struggle to get people to realize the necessity of trying to live by a single standard of rightness instead of simply giving lip service to this profession.
The bond issue simply makes it timely to focus peopleâ€™s attention on this issue.
But the supporters of public education ask, How in the world does supporting public education prove that a believer in tax-supported schools is adopting two standards of morals?
The proof of his belief in this double standard of rightness is that he is advocating having the state use force to get the money to support the schools, which, if an individual did the same thing would be regarded as immoral and criminal. He is, in effect, saying that multiplying what is a crime for an individual to do becomes a virtue if down by several people or the state. In short, that is proof that he believes might makes right; that the end justifies the means no matter how reprehensible the means would be regarded if employed by an individual.
The earliest reference we ever found to this principle that the state should do only what the individual had a right to do was in the great masterpiece â€œRights of Manâ€ by Thomas Paine. He said, â€œEvery civil right has for its foundation some natural right pre-existing in the individual.â€
About 50 years later, Frederic Bastiat emphasized the fact that a good government that best promoted the general welfare were [sic] limited to doing things that an individual, as an individual, had a right to do.
Lincoln later expressed the same principle when he said, â€œno man is good enough to govern another without his consent.â€
This is really the principle upon which this country was founded. It was the idea back of the Declaration of Independence. It meant a definite limited government. In centuries past, the government had been over and above the individual. But the American government, and the true Christian government, attempts to do only what the individual himself, as an individual, has a God-given right to do.
How can an individual transfer to the government or to someone else a right that he himself does not have? A man has a right, as an individual, to protect his life and his property. He even has a natural right to kill a man to defend himself if he canâ€™t protect himself otherwise. He can transfer this right to government.
We recognize this limited right of the government not to go beyond the rights of the individual when in war we try to take prisoners rather than try to kill the enemy. We of course reserve the right, as the individual reserves the right, to kill the enemy if we are convinced we canâ€™t protect ourselves without killing him before he kills us.
So the public school question is a denial of the very foundation on which this government was formed. It is setting up a new octopus that is neither man nor God. It is giving this octopus power that no man has of himself. This European idea of government will eventually destroy more and more of the individual's liberty and retard our progress if people do not come to realize that tax-supported schools deny the axiom that if an act is immoral for an individual to do, it is immoral for the state to do. There are no exceptions to this rule. It is therefore an axiom.
So now, when the school bond issue is being discussed, is a good time for the people to think these things over and to come to believe that the state has no right to do anything that is immoral or wicked for an individual himself to do. It is a good time for them to come to believe in a government of impersonal laws that no man mad and no man can unmake, rather than in a government of force to try to make men be charitable, a government by changeable, willful, ambitious men.
Of course we want everybody to have an opportunity for an education that includes principles governing human relations. But we want them educated to respect the rights of the individual, and to know that if an individual has no right to do a thing, neither does the state. This simply cannot be done by the state because tax-supported schools themselves are not respecting the rights of the individualâ€¦.
We want education, taught by example that is in harmony with Christian principles, with the Ten Commandments and the Declaration of Independence. It is the most important thing in our lives, entirely too important to turn over to men and women who themselves have been so miseducated that they seem to think they can do what Jesus refused to do â€“ be a divider of menâ€™s labor. We would have much better education, promoting freedom and individual rights and responsibilities, if it were done in a voluntary way under the competitive system.
That is the reason The Register is devoting so much time and energy on the principle back of the bond issue.
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