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We’ve all heard the libertarian/conservative arguments for doing away with public schooling: improved quality, reduced cost, increased efficiency, taxation is theft, and so on, but I bet you’ve never heard this proposition argued from a leftist/liberal perspective. Now, by leftist I don’t simply mean plain authoritarianism. For the purpose of this argument, “leftist” or “liberal” will be used to refer only to a general skepticism of the free market. Think #BernieBot or #Occupy.
On to what you came here for, the basic syllogism for the leftist argument against public schooling is as follows:
Public schooling functions as a corporate subsidy.
Leftists believe corporate subsidies are immoral.
Leftists ought to oppose public schooling.
To expound on the first assertion that public schools are a massive corporate subsidy, a corporate subsidy defined simply and without controversy is the redistribution of capital from the taxpayer to a private business. In the case of public schooling the capital starts as tax dollars and is delivered in the form of skilled employees that businesses absolutely need. It is the schools that receive the money, but it is businesses who receive the finished product. This is clearly a transfer of wealth from the taxpayer to business- especially big business.
Companies require their employees have a complex and widely varied set of skills in order to carry out the highly advanced functions of a modern economy. The problem is that even basic skills like reading, writing, and arithmetic take an immense amount of time and resources to acquire. That means big money. Luckily (for them not us), the taxpayers are forced to pick up the tab, and therein lies the unfairness. The employers are getting the finished products of an education system without baring the costs of it.
End the subsidies. End the public schools.
Without the government, who would educate the masses? Well there’s even a lefty argument for that slack-jawed rebuttal. “Don’t you know that corporations selfishly care about their profits more than anything on earth?” a liberal might say. You don’t need to fight this piece of rhetoric this time; it fits snugly within your argument. It only takes a few moments’ thought to realize that without schools the corporations would run out of skilled workers to make their money for them. Without skilled workers, there are no profits, and without profits the corporations die. This is how we force corporations to pay for education, by refusing to do it through government. To the liberal, “Of course corporations only care about profit. Let’s use it against them!”
What a newly private system would look like in practice is up for debate, but what we can safely assume is that private educators won’t waste their money on unproductive methods as the government system currently does. This leaves one of two possible outcomes, that our children will get a better education for the same dollar amount spent -OR- that our children will get the same education for much, much less. So the proletariat gets better value education -AND- the bourgeoisie pay for it? Now that’s something even the Bernie Bots can get on board with
So the next time your perfectly crafted, carefully thought out libertarian argument runs up against the brick wall of a leftist mind, try to use the above lines of reasoning. Reach them by turning their own logic around. Try to lead with this leftist argument and then follow up with your libertarian arguments. When in Moscow, do as the Muscovites do.
And if you yourself are a leftist reading this, welcome to the Libertarian Party, comrade.
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