Grassroot Perspective – July 14, 2003-Excerpt from Crossfire; How Would Jesus Tax?; Was Horace Really the Mann?

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“Dick Rowland Image”

”Shoots (News, Views and Quotes)”


– Excerpt from Crossfire. Bill Moyers and Fred Smith, Jr. of The
Competitive Enterprise Institute discussing “Obesity, public health and the fat tax” on 6/13/03

MOYERS: You should be feeling very good. Your side has won. I mean, the President. you have the ear of the President and every level of the government. Your arguments are being heard. Corporate executives,
lawyers, lobbyists as we saw in the first piece are really throughout
the government, they’re running the show now. But you must be a very
happy man.

SMITH: My expectations are much, much higher than that, Bill. I feel a little like the preacher who got people to recognize there is sin. But
there’s still an awful lot of it in Washington, DC. We have taken…
we’ve got a long way to go yet on government regulations, government
expenditures are still dramatically out of scale. And the ability of the
Republican administration and Congress to explain, to give a vision of
what they’re trying to achieve still deserves a lot more work than it
has today.

– How Would Jesus Tax?

By Edward Hudgins

One Republican is finally making moral arguments to support his tax
policies. Unfortunately they’re the wrong arguments and wrong policies.
Alabama’s Governor Bob Riley has just shepherded through the state
legislature the largest tax hike in the state’s history, justifying a
greater tax burden on the prosperous on the religious grounds summed up
in the slogan, “What would Jesus do?”

Alabama’s tax code — like most other state codes — is complex and needs
changes. But approaching reform from the wrong moral premises guarantees
immoral results. For example, Adam Cohen in a “New York Times” editorial
supporting the tax hike notes that, “Christians are prohibited from
oppressing the poor.” So it’s “oppression” if an individual creates
wealth and fails to hand enough of it over to others? Of course, without
the creators, for example, of logging companies in Alabama, there would
be no timber industry jobs for Alabama citizens or for employees of
stores and other enterprises that serve them.

Collectivism — from the Left or the Right — maintains that individuals
who create wealth can only retain it with the permission of those who
did not create it. Individualism maintains that if you earn it, it’s
yours and you need answer to no one save yourself.

For those like Gov. Riley who believe in the Biblical decree that
Christians “take care of the least among us,” private charity at least
does not punish the productive. A tax collector with a government gun

Above article is quoted from The Objectivist Center

”Roots (Food for Thought)”

– Was Horace Really the Mann? The Many Schools of “Public” Education

By Matthew J. Brouillette

Across the nation, the debate over school choice is over. While the old
argument used to center around whether parents should be able to choose
their children ‘s school, today much of the debate revolves around “how
much” and “how” choice should be expanded. And last summer, the U.S.
Supreme Court dispelled one more of the many obsolete myths promulgated
by those opposed to parental choice in education.

The reality is that choice is here to stay and the days of the
restrictive “assignment system,” forcing children into a particular
school simply because of where they live are finally over. Empirical and
anecdotal evidence from over 2,300 charter schools, 60,000 low-income
children reaping the intellectual benefits from privately funded
scholarships to attend private and parochial schools, and another 12,000
students utilizing publicly funded vouchers, make the positive effects
of school choice impossible to deny.

Revisiting Public Education

Yet despite the overwhelming success and increasing public demand for
more school choice, many Americans remain skeptical. I’m not talking
about the ardent opponents of school choice-moral arguments and
empirical evidence will never convince them. I’m talking about the
average citizen who fears that choice will somehow hurt rather than
improve public education.

So, in order to better understand why school choice should be embraced
instead of feared, we should consider both the history and purpose of
public education.

First, however, let’s define the concept of public education. Today,
this concept has been completely turned on its head. What used to mean
“the education of the public through diverse means” has become
synonymous with the direct sponsorship, operation, and control of
schooling by the government.

But, it hasn’t always been this way. For the first 150 years of
America’s settlement and the first 50 to 75 years of our
nation’s existence, public education was achieved through independent,
church-related, philanthropic, and community-sponsored schools. These
schools were in essence what we call private schools today.

Yet despite this extremely decentralized system of schools, the early
American public was exceptionally literate and relatively well educated.
Nearly every child — including the poor — had access to some level of
schooling. (Of course, an important exception was those persons kept in
the government-sanctioned and government — protected system of chattel
slavery from the 1600s through the mid-1860s.)

Then — beginning in New England in the mid-1800s — a wave of change swept
across the country. States began to abandon the original American model
in favor of greater government involvement in schooling. It wasn’t a
hostile takeover, but a persistent push for creating a government
supported educational “safety net.”

In 1841, Horace Mann, the leader of the government school movement in
Massachusetts, made a bold promise. He said: “Let the common school be
expanded to its capabilities, let it be worked with the efficiency of
which it is susceptible, and nine-tenths of the crimes in the penal code
would become obsolete; the long catalogue of human ills will be

As we continue to wait for government to usher in Horace Mann’s Utopia,
an honest look at the current school system should conclude that we have
established a government institution that clashes with the political,
economic, social, and cultural traditions of the United States to an
extent unparalleled by any other in American history.

This fact once prompted the late Albert Shanker, former president of the
American Federation of Teachers, to say: “It’s time to admit that public
education operates like a planned economy, a bureaucratic system in
which every body’s role is spelled out in advance and there are few
incentives for innovation and productivity. It’s no surprise that our
school system doesn’t improve: it more resembles the communist economy
than our own market economy.”

Despite these stark contradictions, most Americans cling to the
misconception that government must be involved in educating our
children. Many more would argue further that without government
involvement in schooling, democracy itself would be threatened.

However, what few people realize is how sixteenth- and
seventeenth-century Americans-without the help of government
schooling-came to tame an unsettled continent and eventually establish
the freest nation in history.

One School Does Not Fit All

The Founding Fathers were clearly educated men, and they certainly
believed that to remain free, America must always have an educated
citizenry. But the educated citizenry they envisioned, and what largely
came to pass during their lifetimes, did not depend upon nor require
that governments provide or operate schools.

Yet today, nearly 90 percent of American children attend government-run
schools. In the majority of states, parents who desire a religious or
nongovernment education for their children are financially penalized.
They must pay taxes for schools they don’t use and pay again for tuition
at schools that are actually educating their children.

It is clear that the goal of an educated public has given way to the
establishment and protection of a monolithic system of government
schools. This is not to say that some or many public schools are not
doing a fine job of teaching children to read, write, and figure.

But the facts are that children are falling through the cracks in even
the best public schools. Despite our best intentions, no school can be
all things to all people. It’s simply impossible.

Just as one-size-fits-all shoes do not properly fit all children’s feet,
neither do one-size-fits-all schools properly fit all children’s
learning needs. This is why we must return to the original concept of
public education-the education of the public through diverse means.

Every child must have the option to choose a school that will best meet
his or her needs-whether it is a traditional government school, or a
charter, private, religious, or even a home school. The promise of
public education will only be fulfilled when parents are once again
empowered with the right, freedom, and flexibility to choose the school
that best meets their children’s academic, emotional, spiritual, and
physical needs.

Once again, this is not just my opinion; my conclusion is based on
experience and the historical record.

A Historical Recipe For Success

Researcher and author Andrew Coulson did us a great service a few years
ago when he published Market Education: An Unknown History. What Coulson
did for those of us who had a rather myopic view of government-sponsored
education is to demonstrate that “schooling” is not a new invention. In
fact, through his exhaustive research, he uncovered a vast wealth of
experience with schooling that goes back as far as 2,500 years.

Coulson says that we cannot just pick and choose one or a few historical
school systems that seemed to work and claim that they would necessarily
work for us today. Instead, he suggests that we look for trends in the
kinds of systems that worked well or poorly across many different
cultural settings.

By doing this, it is possible to compare educational outcomes between
similar and contemporary societies that adopted different education
systems. As a result, we can also correlate what happened to educational
outcomes when a given society abandoned one system in favor of another.

What’s the best education system in world history? Remarkably, Coulson
discovered that free markets in education — in which parents choose their
children’s schools and schools freely compete to attract and serve those
children — consistently out-perform all other approaches to school

Time and again throughout history, individuals and groups created school
in response to public demand without the need for government

Coulson also found that effective education obviously doesn’t just
happen; nor can it be achieved through political means. He found that
school systems that have consistently performed well under widely
varying social conditions have consisted of five essential elements.

Coulson warns, however, that, “Far from being a policy smorgasbord from
which individual elements can be casually selected or rejected based on
personal taste or political expediency, education markets behave much
more like fragile ecosystems. If any essential element is eliminated,
the entire system begins to decline.”

The five elements Coulson uncovered are: 1) Parental choice; 2) Direct
parental financial responsibility; 3) Freedom for educators; 4)
Competition among schools; and 5) The profit motive for schools.

These five factors, taken together, create the incentives that are
missing in the current system.

Are they controversial? Absolutely. No doubt that the appeal of an
education marketplace would be broadened if we could eliminate or find
substitutes for two elements in particular: direct Parental financial
responsibility and the profit motive.

Unfortunately, there are no such substitutes. Coulson found that having
parents pay directly for their own children’s education has historically
proven to be an indispensable component of effective education markets.

It makes perfect sense though: what people pay for, they pay attention
to, and what they get for free they become complacent about. Education
is hardly exempt from this economic axiom. Nevertheless, it does pose a

One Educational Marketplace for All

So how can American citizens and policy makers ensure that all
children —regardless of family income — have access to good
schools, particularly if good schools are dependent on parents “footing”
some or all of the bill?

This is actually a fairly low hurdle to get over. We offer needs-based
financial assistance to low-income citizens for many products and
services. Obviously this could be done so that all parents could become
full participants in the educational marketplace. Those who could afford
to pay for their own children’s education would do so, while those
needing varying degrees of financial help would receive it.

Thus preserving the benefits of direct tuition payment by parents for
the vast majority of the population, since only a fraction of parents
would need to have the entire cost of their children’s education paid
for by others.

However, the best way to provide such assistance has also been a subject
of considerable debate among scholars in recent years.

Some favor an education voucher similar to that used in Milwaukee,
Cleveland, and Florida, while others seek to promote the spread of
private scholarship organizations through the use of tax credits, as
Arizona has done since 1997 and Pennsylvania began in 2002.

One area that both sides do agree on is that existing programs currently
serve far too few children.

The other difficult hurdle is the need for the profit motive in
education. This notion usually invites a hailstorm of criticism from the
education community. “Children are not widgets,” they will shout.

But once again, history proves the profit incentive is what drives
entrepreneurs to produce better products and superior services. It is
this very same profit motive that has provided Americans with the
highest quality of life the world has ever known.

It is also the absence of the profit motive that has been the chief
reason that America’s top teachers are underpaid and the best teaching
methods have been extremely limited in their replication and

Although many people accept the need for parents to take direct
financial responsibility for their children ‘s education and the need
for at least some schools to be spurred to excellence by the profit
motive, many more people remain skeptical of market-based education
because of the perceived negative social effects.

Of course while we want schools to teach children to read, write, and
figure, we also want schools to foster strong and harmonious
communities. A more civil society most certainly won’t be achieved if we
merely focus on academic outcomes. Therefore, we must consider the
overall societal impact of an education marketplace.

Fortunately, backward arguments against an education marketplace in the
first place are nothing more than red herrings. History reveals that
time and again, it has been free education markets that have allowed
diverse groups to harmoniously pursue both their shared educational
goals and their unique and varied traditions.

It has not been diversity that has set neighbor against neighbor, but
coercion. If parents had been allowed to choose their own schools rather
than being forced to relocate in order to send their children elsewhere,
much of the segregation of neighborhoods over the past several decades
by socioeconomic level would have never taken place.

So while public school apologists claim that public education is the
glue that keeps communities together, it is in fact the solvent that is
pulling them a part. Just consider the endless series of battles for
control of public schooling. Just one example is a local school district
near my home that has been battling over the inclusion of the creation
theory in science class. Who really wins in these debates? Yet these are
the inevitable and unfortunate side effects of creating an establishment
of education.

Our Founding Fathers wisely forbade Congress from establishing a single
system of religion for all citizens. So, too, we must realize that any
establishment of a single “official” system of education for all
children invariably leads to conflict within diverse communities. It has
repeatedly done so throughout history. Free-market education, by
contrast, has consistently allowed heterogeneous peoples to more
harmoniously pursue their educational needs and goals.

Future decisions about public education-that is, the education of
public-reach far beyond simple education policy. Ultimately they lie at
the heart of all our freedoms-what it truly means to be an American.

Thomas Jefferson said: “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in
state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” In
other words, we cannot long continue our ignorance and at the same time
hope maintain and restore our liberties.

Clearly, bringing more freedom the means by which our children and our
children’s are educated means less government interference. Our Founding
Fathers knew this well and it is this fundamental lesson from our
nation’s past that taxpayers, educators and policymakers at all levels
of govern men must heed if we ever wish to truly ensure that “no child
is left behind” in the future.


Matthew J. Brouillette, a former school teacher, is president of The
Commonwealth Foundation, a non-partisan, non-profit, public policy
research and educational institute located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
For more information, visit

Above article is quoted from Center of the American Experiment, American
Experiment Quarterly Spring 2003

”Evergreen (Today’s Quote)”

“Education is the state-controlled manufacture of echoes.” — George
Norman Douglas, 1868-1952. British writer/diplomat

”’Edited by Richard O. Rowland, president of Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. He can be reached at (808) 487-4959 or by email at:”’ ”’For more information, see its Web site at:”’