Sunday, July 29, 2007

"Clinton's Hostile Preschool Takeover"- I.B.D. Editorial

Perhaps we should call her Comrade Clinton. In a stunning editorial in Investor's Business Daily, it was reported that Senator Hillary Clinton has introduced a bill in the U.S. Senate that would effectively destroy the last remaining bastion of primary educational freedom in America by providing the authorization and funding for states to take over all privately run preschools within their respective borders. This bill would go far beyond other proposals in states like New Jersey, which would simply expand the existing public school systems to the preschool level while leaving privately run preschools to operate as a parallel network much as private K-12 schools do now (that many private preschools would be forced to close or shrink under the "competitive" pressure of the new coercively [taxpayer] funded public preschools is another issue).

As the editorial explains, the private preschool network is "a colorful, mixed-market blend of local centers, from Montessori programs to preschools run inside large companies." Being relatively free from government interference, the preschool industry is completely open to the kind of competition, innovation, and entrepreneurialism that is typical of free markets. The rights and responsibilities for choosing the type of preschool their child should attend rests where it properly belongs, with the parents. The free market set-up has fostered an explosion of excellent preschools that operate under radically different educational theories from the (Deweyite) public schools, such as the Montessori schools with it's emphasis on early cognitive and conceptual child development. (To be sure, not all preschools are of high quality, and some are downright destructive, such as the progressive preschools with their primary goal of fostering in the child a mindless conformity to the group. See Ayn Rand's The Comprachicos).

In the name of "equal opportunity for all children", Senator Clinton proposes to usurp the rights of parents in regard to early childhood education, while strangling and ultimately destroying the preschool industry under draconian mandates such as the requirement for four year college degrees to teach preschool. And it is the better preschool programs, such as Montessori, which are the main targets here, as the mediocre preschools would fold quite nicely into the public school monopoly.

If there is still any doubt about the authoritarian designs of Hillary Clinton and of the American Left, or of the evil of egalitarianism, this bill should end it. Will the homeschooling movement be next? And the K-12 private schools? If this bill passes into law, the precedent will be set.

This is pure Stalinism! Consider Clinton's book about child-rearing "It Takes A Village", replace the the cozy-sounding word "Village" with "State", and you will expose the naked agenda of the Left's leading spokesperson. Her husband, Bill Clinton, while President spoke of " 'the young people of the United States' ", when he said " 'We're their parents, and it is up to us [the state?] to protect them.' Hillary Clinton told Newsweek, 'There is no such thing as other people's children.' "(David Boaz, Cato Institute, TCSdaily.com, as quoted in the May 21, 2007 issue of Forbes magazine).

Senator Hillary Clinton has laid down a gauntlet. She has brazenly declared that the primary responsibility for the education of American children rests with the state, not the parents. But simply opposing her plan will not be enough. The entire concept of a government-run compulsory public school system must be challenged, because there is no way one can fight her plan without rejecting the principle upon which it is based. "Ideas can only be fought by means of better ideas" (Ayn Rand).

While this bill can conceivably be defeated in the short term, the only way to stop an eventual state takeover of all education is to move toward the complete privatization of the public school system (I.E., the separation of school and state). A starting point can be to call for vouchers or tax credits which would enable parents to divert their education tax dollars to the school that they choose for their children.

It will be a long and tough battle against an entrenched and powerful establishment and the inertia of millions of parents too used to evading the responsibility of giving serious thought to their children's education. But it will be for the sake of the motivated and independent parents, as well as an issue (education) too important to be left in the hands of power-seeking politicians, that the battle must be fought. The public educational process will require a courageous and principled (I.E., uncompromising) campaign. But the fight will be worth it.

Mike Zemack

Friday, July 27, 2007

Introduction

For as far back as at least high school, I have held the view that freedom based upon individual rights and laissez-faire Capitalism (which are inseparable corollaries) constitute the best social conditions for man to live under. I remember in my teen years writing essays or arguing with friends or family about the superiority of Capitalism over Socialism.

Over the years, there have been many writers and thinkers who have produced volumes of literature documenting the tremendous advances in man's standard of living and well-being made possible under Capitalism. Historical figures from Adam Smith to Ludwig Von Mises to Milton Friedman, as well as the ever-growing mountains of empirical evidence demonstrating the practical success of Capitalism, have forced even most of those on the political Left to at least pay lip service to "free enterprise". Capitalism had pretty much won the economic debate as being the best system to enable the production of material wealth.

Yet capitalism was, and is, under relentless attack by collectivism of all variants (systems such as Communism, Fascism, Welfare Statism, Democracy, etc.). And Socialism is winning. Why? It was through my 1960s discovery of the American philosopher/novelist Ayn Rand that I began to learn the answer to that question, because I learned that the answer lies in a much deeper understanding of the nature of the battle between Socialism and Capitalism. Ayn Rand teaches that politicals can not be viewed in isolation, but must be integrated into a much wider context. The integrating mechanism is philosophy. This is something that socialists seemed to have grasped, at least implicitly, while Capitalism's champions have not.

Identifying the fundamental nature of this battle is one of the most important of Ayn Rand's many monumental accomplishments. What Capitalism lacked, she believed, was a proper moral defense. I quote from the introduction to Capitalism: the Unknown Ideal:

Objectivism is a philosophical movement; since politics is a branch of philosophy, Objectivism advocates certain political principles – specifically, those of laissez-faire capitalism – as the consequence and the ultimate practical application of its fundamental philosophical principles. It does not regard politics as a separate or primary goal, that is: as a goal that can be achieved without a wider ideological context.

Politics is based on three other philosophical disciplines: metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics – on a theory of man’s nature and of man’s relationship to existence. It is only on such a base that one can formulate a consistent political theory and achieve it in practice….

Her philosophy, Objectivism, for the first time identifies in comprehensive detail the principles that constitute the philosophical and moral foundation of Capitalism. Objectivism should be discovered and studied by everyone, because I believe it must be adopted as America's dominant philosophy. Only then will a fully free, benevolent, and prosperous society be achieved. Objectivism is the only force that can save the achievement of this country's Founding Fathers.

I will not here attempt any kind of lengthy discussion on the much misunderstood, misrepresented, and still relatively unknown philosophy of Objectivism. The best person to advance a proper understanding of Objectivism would be Ayn Rand herself. For that I would recommend her four novels, especially Atlas Shrugged, and her many non-fiction books, all of which are still in print. In addition, I would refer the reader to the valuable work of the small but growing numbers of Objectivist Intellectuals which are regularly linked to in this blog. A brief introduction to Objectivism can be found on the website of the Ayn Rand Institute.

I will only point out the essentials of Objectivism, which are (1) the world outside of man's mind is objective, absolute and governed by natural laws, (2) reason is man's primary means of survival and only path to knowledge, (3) rational self-interest and the attainment of his own welfare and happiness is each individual's moral ideal, and (4) laissez-faire Capitalism is the only moral social system because it is the only system that completely eliminates force from human relationships (except in self defense), leaving only the voluntary, uncoerced association of free people, each living his life for his own sake. As can be seen, Capitalism rests on a comprehensive philosophic foundation. As I have learned, and attempt to demonstrate in this blog, a reality-based philosophy leads to the inescapable conclusion that Capitalism is not just the best, but the only proper social system for man.

I should say at this point that, while I consider myself a proud Objectivist, I am not a spokesman for, nor an expert on, Objectivism. I speak only from the standpoint of my best understanding of it. It would probably be more accurate to call myself a "student" of Objectivism, as my understanding of it expands continually.

Finally, I would also like to point out that one of the many things I learned by studying Ayn Rand is that the only real guide to understanding human events, their relationships to one another, and where they may lead us, is to discover the fundamental philosophical and moral principles that drive them: hence, the title of my blog. Further, it is vitally necessary to integrate all of one's knowledge of human events in order to understand the relationships between them. Only the guidance of a rational, comprehensive philosophy can provide the right framework of principles to achieve that goal. Objectivism is that philosophy. This process of discovery and integration, with Objectivism as my frame of reference, is what I aim to do as I analyze and opiniate on today's events.

The goal of my blog is two-fold. The first is my own enjoyment and relaxation, as I have always enjoyed reading, thinking, and debating about all manner of issues; just an amateur writer seeking to get engaged where it counts most, on the battleground of ideas. Second, and more importantly, I want to lead as many people as possible to discover Ayn Rand and Objectivism, as I believe that her inspiring and uncompromising defense of the individual as an end in himself is the only real antidote to the steady, catastrophic American retreat into statism and collectivism.

I hope that you enjoy reading my blog as much as I will writing it, that I can inspire original thinking and debate on issues, and that more people become informed about Ayn Rand, her ideas, and the newly emerging Objectivist Movement. So that there is no misunderstanding, I'll conclude by once again drawing upon the words of Ayn Rand:

Objectivists are not “conservatives.” We are radicals for capitalism; we are fighting for that philosophical base which capitalism did not have and without which it was doomed to perish.


Mike LaFerrara