Imagine if ‘Big Government’ critics controlled schools

Imagine if ‘Big Government’ critics controlled schools


Suppose we field-tested in our high schools the pervasive and angry fervor against what libertarians (and they are the categorical opposites of liberals) call all-encroaching government. Let’s see what would happen if the many outbursts against Washington were directed at superintendents and principals and teachers who also are public servants on the public payroll. We could see locally and up close what passes for wisdom by allegedly intelligent pundits on the national scene.

The complaint is that ever-bigger government is lumbering into our lives with more and more regulations, and with programs that cost ever more. The ideal government is none at all. What we have is just too big, oppressive and costly. Start by throwing out the 180-day mandated school calendar. Cut it back to what the students want. Get government off their backs. Freedom beats heck over oppression. Next, have recess wherever and whenever the students want. And of course get rid of all boring courses, leaving only those that pass a preference test. Computer games would not be outlawed in the classroom. They would be encouraged. Slash the teachers’ salaries since their workloads would be drastically cut back. And the administrators’ pay would be even more so. What do they do, anyway? Homework would be optional.

Did you ever get the suspicion that the TV comedians who make a living by scoffing and hooting at their high school educators were probably the kids who underperformed academically and had to compensate by clowning? We know now that many classroom entertainers have reading difficulties and have to cover that up by acting out, driving the teacher to distraction and evoking scoldings that sound funny today. Such adult delinquents would shudder at the thought of having to get a paycheck by standing in front of a roomful of youths, some of whom did not want to be there, and instructing them about something important.

In the adult world we see this every day. Some critics bemoan big-government laws they consider superfluous because they do not directly benefit from them. For instance, national health insurance for all is unwelcome to many who can afford their own insurance. But let government officials try to legislate the kind of universal coverage that many other nations have long had and the howls of “Socialism!” go up. Yet these same economizers would choke at cutting back on the biggest government operation by far: defense. It has taken two thirds of the government’s discretionary budget every year since World War II, through liberal and conservative administrations. And the public likes it that way because it believes such budgeting that dwarfs the defense spending of Russia and China combined is necessary for national security. No other country, friend or foe, spends like this. But in a blizzard, everyone demands government of whatever size to clear their streets.

The inconsistencies can be outrageous. The critics charge that a humane immigration policy would swallow up jobs, leaving native-born Americans out of work. Yet how many of these can you find applying for stoop labor openings? Those doing the hiring control employment. So guess who would holler that anti-discrimination laws in hiring are oppressive, with big government pushing poor innocent growers around. And of course when it comes time to paying for the produce harvested by underpaid laborers in the field, the critics have no problem enjoying the fruits of slave labor. Perhaps you did not know that our minimum wage laws do not cover field workers, or that undocumented immigrants, so feared for all the jobs they are said to be stealing, have some of their pay diverted to the Social Security Administration even though they will never see a dime of it. That’s fair? If only for that, native-born Americans paying into Social Security will never have to worry that the system will go broke. What would the critics do without the minorities carrying them around on their backs, feeding them Jersey’s great produce?

You begin to see why good Christians balk at Pope Francis. When he kisses babies, he’s a saint. When he points out how some of government’s biggest fault-finders use it to perpetuate slave labor against the unrepresented, he is meddling in politics. Think for a moment: what does he or the church stand to gain if he advocates “socialism,” as they claim? Always watch whose ox is gored.