The Conservative Contingent: Get Government Out Of Education, Mail Delivery

Andrew Lipian, Nick Miller, and Ben Schild

There are quite a few new “rights” that have been asserted recently in the *Review(: most notably, the “right” to an education and, more laughably, the “right” to have your letters carried by a bloated, insolvent, government-owned corporation. I will try to address both of these misguided assertions summarily.

Rights are properly defined as protections from other people and the state. There can be no “right” to health care, education or a pension. These so-called “rights” fall under the category of entitlements because they necessitate that someone else provide a service to you that you cannot provide for yourself.

I must first preface before I go further and say that when it comes to education, we’ve taken for granted the poisonous idea that we need other people to instruct us in order that we learn. It only really takes 100 hours of focused attention to learn how to read and do basic arithmetic, after which you can potentially learn anything on your own, given gradual progression. Institutionalized schooling provides us with an enormous waste of time in which we are taught to derive our self-esteem from one of five capital letters. Public schools are tasked, naturally, with encouraging critical thinking when nearly all issues about which there is controversy are off-limits to discussion.

When it comes to the views of contemporary liberals, I can without hesitation say that there is no substantive disagreement when it comes to the issue of education. There is always a basic unanimity of opinion that there should be free, government-run and publicly financed primary and secondary education. During the recent education policy panel discussion (“Education Nation,” moderated by President Krislov), this point was driven home clearly by two of the panel members. When prodded about the real solution to falling student achievement, Cleveland Plain Dealer Editor-in-Chief Debra Simmons answered to the extent that we don’t know the solution, but we do know that there isn’t the political will (presumably to fund public schools without limits).

For the past 30 years, funding to public schools has increased, class sizes have shrunk, and achievement has flatlined. Still, these are the solutions proposed by so many unimaginative reformers. You might cry out in anger at the notion of removing the government from education, but it is the very thing standing in the way of any new and innovative solution.

It is wrongheaded to think that there can be a one-size-fits-all solution to education or first-class letter carrying, or that there would be no other option in the absence of massive failing institutions. There are numerous cases of people being prosecuted for illegally delivering post in direct competition with the government. The USPS could easily be divvied up and sold to private institutions that could provide much better service without hemorrhaging billions of dollars. The challenge that people would lose their jobs if such an entity were dissolved only holds up if it turns out that letter carrying doesn’t involve some measure of skill. This may or may not be the case, but consider that it is costing billions of dollars of public treasure to maintain the employment of about a half a million people.

Once letter carrying is privatized, we can rest assured that all those ignorant Republicans living in rural areas won’t be deprived of some way to send cards and cookies to grandkids without the beneficence of their wizened liberal technocrat overlords.