Even Hardcore Libertarians Should Support School Choice

I am a Libertarian and an educator, and I support school choice.

Vouchers would better allow parents, particularly poor parents, to send their children to high-performing schools. Families would also have a better shot at finding schools that share their culture and values, be they religious, secular, or other. A voucher program would force schools to compete. Instead of receiving more funding and more attention for struggling, schools would lose students and the tuition payments attached to them when they fail to produce positive results. Likewise, schools would be rewarded with more enrollment for doing well, and would be forced to either improve or close when their results are substandard.

More charter schools would be great too. Free from the one-size-fits-all regulations foisted upon public schools, charters would have a greater opportunity to experiment and innovate educationally in our rapidly advancing world. Charters would be able to cater to individual students’ special needs, interests, and learning styles, and could also adapt their curricula to benefit families with lifestyles that deviate from the norm.

My mind runs wild when I imagine the chance to alter and update today’s educational systems in America and throughout the world.

Why do we only hire trained teachers to teach? Why not scrap education degree requirements and hire individuals who have actually worked in a diverse range of fields instead? Why not hire military veterans, foreigners, and senior citizens who can interactively share their incredible perspectives and experiences instead of only reading second-hand accounts and textbooks? Why must schools employ so many out-of-touch older teachers who have spent decades upon decades stuck in classrooms? Why not hire college students part-time to teach basic material and tell their juniors how much life changes when they take their next steps in life?

Why have teachers teach the same lessons to four different classes per school year? Why not economize the process by using films and lectures in an auditorium? Why give each unique child the same education in the first place?

Why force children to stay in classrooms all day long? Why not let them roam freely to explore their environment without supervision? Why not march them out into the world to meet and greet local townspeople, ask them how they spend their days, and realize that we shouldn’t take the simple things in life for granted?

I could go on and on. But my pedagogical daydreams are not the crux of this piece.

The point I’d like to make is that despite widespread support among small government advocates, and despite the fact that intuition suggests it is a free market reform, a case can be made to suggest that school choice is not a Libertarian solution at all.

Libertarians believe in laissez-faire Capitalism. That means hands off. In a free market, goods and services are owned, bought, and sold by private individuals and groups. Exchanges occur at will, not coercively via the hollow end of a gun. Libertarians reject the nanny state and instead proclaim let the buyer beware!

The most extreme iterations of Libertarianism suggest there should be no government at all as it is coercive in nature. More moderate Libertarians are comfortable with the state handling limited amounts of legislation, law enforcement, the defense of the nation, and a handful of other responsibilities.

But as far as education goes, there is quite a consensus across the Libertarian spectrum that education should ideally be privatized with no government involvement whatsoever (and especially not at the federal level). In other words, schools should operate like businesses where customers (in this case parents) shop for the best products and best deals until they are ready to voluntarily make a purchase (in this case paying tuition) or refrain from doing so altogether.

Public schools and Libertarianism simply do not mix. For something like a public school to exist in a Libertarian society, and I imagine many of these kinds of effectively public facilities would, funding would come from a community or city of willing participants, all of whom would have the option of withholding subsidy if they decided to. By definition, these facilities would not be public at all as the general public would not have the right to access them. Access would be granted only to those who own a stake in a given school as well as anyone else whom these stakeholders permit.

School choice does not remove the key component that separates the free market from central planning: funding via coercion.

In a school choice system, taxes would still be collected to pay for education. The major difference is that schools that receive public funding, which are largely public at the moment, may be privately owned as well. Privately owned charter schools and conventional private schools that accept vouchers would both be privately owned institutions on the receiving end of state-confiscated money.

I hate to say it, but the economic system in which the state operates private businesses is called, well, Fascism. And this could bring hardcore Libertarians to a difficult crossroads.

But it shouldn’t.

The truly privatized option is too far outside mainstream political consideration to be worth falling on our swords for. Therefore, we can either a support a mildly Fascistic school choice system, or we can support a patently Socialist public school system.

Politically, Libertarians are often more principled than pragmatic. When choosing between a warmongering Keynesian Republican and a warmongering Keynesian Democrat as a representative, many of us choose a third option, even though he or she lacks a realistic chance of winning, or abstain from voting altogether. In this instance, the realistic options are so bad and so inevitable that taking a principled stand is probably the right thing to do, however hopeless it may be.

But in other situations, we tend to go the pragmatic route. When choosing between legalized gay marriage or keeping marriage between a man and a women, many of us rebuked this false dichotomy and asserted the government should have no role in marriage to begin with. However, as Libertarians believe in equal protections under the law, we were overwhelmingly supportive of and satisfied with the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize gay marriage throughout the United States. Our favorite option, zero government involvement in marriage, was virtually implausible, so the lesser-of-two-evils route was the way to go.

At the moment, school choice is more similar to the gay marriage dilemma than the Clinton vs. Trump debacle. Our favorite option, zero federal involvement in schools, is not going to happen any time soon, so our best bet is to support politicians and initiatives that go in the school choice direction.

Unlike getting the government out of marriage, school choice has a solid amount of support. The teachers unions and the politicians they control are a formidable obstacle. But enough of the public is persuaded by school choice to give us a real shot at taking another step towards the Liberty we desire.

Libertarians should not be cynical on the issue of school choice. We should be fired up.

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Even Hardcore Libertarians Should Support School Choice

The NFL’s Sexism Must.End.Now.

A recent op-ed in The New York Times has me fuming.

The day after Beth Mowins violently obliterated the glass ceiling of sports broadcasting by becoming the first female to call a game of “Monday Night Football,” Chicago-based sports journalist Julie DiCaro shined a light on the sexism Mowins is already being subjected to.

Her piece begins:

“Shrill.”

“Grating.”

“Like listening to my ex nag me.”

“Sounds like my mom yelling at me.”

Women in sports broadcasting are used to men criticizing their voices. In my three years in sports radio, I’ve had more men complain about my voice than everything else about me combined — and trust me, there are a lot of other things they don’t like about me.

“It has nothing to do with you being a woman,” they tell me, “I just can’t stand the sound of your voice.”

For someone who gets paid primarily to say sports words on the radio, listeners hating the sound of her voice is somewhat troubling.

Obviously, any attempt to blame female broadcasters’ voices, as opposed to their vaginas, for disapproval of their job performance is a blatant lie. Sexism is clearly running amok. Men don’t want women involved in sports analysis. And that’s gross.

DiCaro continues:

The response to female broadcasters’ voices is not new. Sports are commonly perceived to be an arena for men — by men, of men — and anything that disrupts that makes some men uneasy.

What is it about men that makes them feel so entitled to sports? Is it the fact that all the players are men? Could it be that they have spent their entire lives playing sports with other men exclusively? Perhaps it’s the unique bonding experience men partake in when participating in full-contact sports like football. It’s a true mystery that no one can ever figure out.

Later in the piece, DiCaro notes:

Some men insist they turn to sports to get a break from women. This is something I hear more than you would probably believe.

THAT’S IT! I am FURIOUS!

Men needing a break from women? This is INSANE, and completely inconceivable! It’s pure, irrational sexism and hate!

I, for one, refuse to stand for such misogyny! It’s 2017! Doesn’t anyone realize this? The time for action is NOW!

I think it’s about time for men to quit hogging the NFL and pestering all the women who just want to enjoy the game without the annoyances intrinsically brought about by the opposite sex.

Men have filled every position in football ever since its inception! All the players are men (Vinny Testaverde, Chad Pennington, and Mark Sanchez are just a few examples)! All the officials are men! All the coaches are men! All the broadcasters are men! It’s the most transparent cesspool of toxic masculinity that takes place in our society! It’s almost as if men intentionally created the perfect environment to enjoy themselves at the end of a long work week that excludes women ON PURPOSE!

Action must be taken, and it cannot be taken frivolously! Here’s what we must do: Women should take over every job the NFL has to offer. That’s right, EVERY JOB! Women players, women coaches, women pylons, everything! Kick out all the men, and give women every position in the NFL. It’s their turn, STUPID MEN!

Once women occupy every position in the NFL, the stupid men should go away and START THEIR OWN LEAGUE! Let women have something to themselves FOR ONCE! Is that too much to ask?

Women shouldn’t have to feel pressured by men to have to watch what they say or risk facing ridicule and scrutiny. What if a woman said something as a joke, but men took it too seriously and out of context and got her fired for it? Can you imagine? The presence of men alone is enough to disturb women who are just trying to enjoy the game that they love.

Men, your time is up. Surrender the NFL to women immediately, and go watch football by yourselves. Let women do their thing!

The NFL’s Sexism Must.End.Now.

Bernie Would Slaughter

I really do not like Bernie Sanders. And I mean really.

As ferociously as I promote civil, well-reasoned, dispassionate political discourse, I admit that I have a hard time keeping my cool when the Vermont Senator is a part of the subject matter at hand.

Bernie Sanders politics are almost entirely antithetical to what I believe in. Even when we overlap, it tends to be for wildly different reasons. In February, Sanders proposed legislation to allow Americans to purchase pharmaceuticals from abroad (it would eventually fail in the Senate). At the moment, many of these purchases are abridged or prohibited due to trade barriers that are in place thanks to lobbying from Big Pharma. The result of this protectionism is artificially high drug prices at home in the US. I imagine that Sanders wants to tear down these walls as a way to punish Big Pharma and because, in this instance, he feels there are benefits to permitting consumer choice. I, on the other hand, believe that government has no business telling Americans what they can and cannot buy nor who they can buy from, so Bernie Sanders’s seal of approval should be irrelevant. I also believe that free trade is a boon to economic growth and keeps prices low in general. Sanders thinks government should determine when to allow the free exchange of goods and services across national borders because big government knows best.

Beyond politics, I believe Bernie is a hypocrite, a horrendous role model, and a demagogic snake.

Sanders claims to stand for the working class and the poor, yet he owns three houses and has never had a real job. Instead of getting his hands dirty as a public school teacher, putting his life on the line as a fireman, or otherwise directly contributing to making the world a better place, Sanders has spent nearly four decades collecting a generous, tax-payer-funded paycheck in various positions of government. He earned over a million dollars last year.

I want to believe that to the general public of the United States of America, Bernie Sanders is as much of a joke as he is to me. I want to believe that America could never fall for the manipulations and obfuscations of a weasley Communist. I want to believe that Americans understand their rights and are aware of the devastation Sandersian policies have caused throughout the 20th Century and are on display now in Venezuela.

But I don’t.

I don’t believe any of those things intuitively, and I don’t believe them based on the available data.

The Mainstream Media, suffering from massive quantities of cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias, have compensated for their false assumptions and failed polling data by manufacturing fictions about Nazi uprisings and Russian meddling to explain Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton.

But the way I see it, the story is quite simple:

After 16 years of George W. Bush and Barack Obama, the American people, especially lower-income Republicans and Progressives, were angry.

Republicans were angered by Bush’s complete failure to be a Conservative as well as his sending their children off to fight pointless, endless wars. They were angry at Obama for his Global-Citizen (as opposed to patriotic American) speeches, his palling around with people who ridicule them, and his policies and warmongering in general.

Progressives were angry at Bush for everything, and they were angry that Obama did not bring about the Utopia of “Hope and Change” they had expected.

As a result of this anger, Trump’s populism won the GOP nomination, and Sanders’ populism came close to taking down the seemingly unbeatable Clinton machine.

In the general election, Trump and Clinton both lost sizeable shares of their parties. Aside from those, like Dennis Prager, who believe that Leftism is such a great danger to America that any Republican would suffice, or, in other words, aside from those who subscribe to the acceptance of the lesser-of-two-evils, Constitutional Conservatives, movement Conservatives, and Liberty-leaning Republicans refused to vote for Trump in droves. Some, like P.J. O’Rourke, chose Clinton as the devil you know, some went for third-party candidates like Gary Johnson and Evan McMullin, and some probably didn’t vote at all.

Clinton lost Progressives who couldn’t stomach her interventionism or support for multinational trade agreements, minorities who only voted for Obama because of his race, and some of the disappointed youth voters that Sanders had energized.

Likely most consequently, Clinton lost a chunk of white working class voters who supported Obama four and eight years earlier. These voters are fearful of traditionally Conservative economic policies that sometimes cost them their livelihoods, but also fear mass immigration for the same reason. Moreover, these Americans are not persuaded by multiculturalism or hyper-progressive social initiatives like allowing children to choose which school restroom to use based on what gender they feel they are.

While it’s unlikely that Trump picked up many members of the first three demographics I mentioned, he got the working-class whites. By making immigration and trade reform his most prominent issues, by promising to leave Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid intact, and by saying he’d swap American interventionism for “America First,” Trump had put together a winning formula. He even managed to get one out of every ten Bernie Bros according to the available polling data and, to be fair, common sense.

If Bernie Sanders wins the Democratic Primary in 2020, even if he’s 150 years old, he’ll beat Trump in an absolute landslide.

Bernie Sanders would bring together the automatic Democrats, the principled Progressives, the Obama minorities, the frustrated youth, and the white working class. Every left-leaning demographic that Hillary Clinton lost and every unprincipled demographic that Trump and Bernie agitated into the political sphere in 2016 would be Feeling the Bern.

Trump’s support would be reduced to automatic Republicans, anti-Progressive nationalists, Trump diehards, and those who feel that anything is better than Socialism. And that will not be enough to constitute a voting majority.

The only thing that could derail a Sanders presidency if he decides to run for and wins the DNC nomination (neither of which are guarantees) would be a Jill Stein from the other side. In other words, if the Democratic Party were fractured by an insurgent anti-Sanders group, it peel away enough voters to give Trump the edge.

What kind of insurgency would this be? I imagine a third-way feminist revolt. Sanders and his supporters were smeared as sexists from within their own party during and after the last election, and this tactic will be used again. If some on the left are too committed to getting a woman or minority into office, Trump will have a shot at beating Bernie.

I write none of this in celebration. There is no glee in these words. But I am committed to telling the truth. And the truth is that the America our Founding Fathers fought and died for is seldom persuasive to a voting majority of human beings.

Let’s hope I’m wrong.

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Bernie Would Slaughter