L. Neil Smith's
Number 216, March 24, 2003

Shucks and Aw!

[Letters to the editor are welcome on any and all subjects. To ensure their acceptance, please try to keep them under 500 words. Sign your letter in the text body with your name and e-mail address as you wish them to appear.]

Letter from W. James Antle III

Letter from Todd Andrew Barnett

RE: Boston Free Party

Steve Trinward needs to take a deep breath. My purpose was to show how the bipartisan support for big government in Massachusetts has created a void that is just waiting to be filled, making libertarian progress possible. It was not to canonize Carla Howell and Michael Cloud.

Right now, that void is evident. When Republicans fail to field candidates for major races, Libertarian candidates have been able to make major inroads with people who normally vote GOP. When it was widely assumed that Massachusetts voters were willing to accept tax increases, a substantial minority of them voted to abolish the state income tax. As a result, politicians are now more reluctant to cancel the more modest income-tax cut that voters passed in 2000.

If you don't think that Howell and Cloud are ideal libertarians or agree with their campaign strategies, fine. But you can't ignore their performance at the ballot box in the past three election cycles. The lesson is that candidates who can appeal to voters who don't usually vote for big-L Libertarians have the ability to draw significant support even in places like Massachusetts. Even in socialist enclaves, there are people who want smaller government but have no one to vote for. I think my piece was fairly clear that Howell and Cloud were not saviors, just people who were able to take advantage of Republican ineptitude. The applicability of this lesson is not limited to them.

Libertarian infighting, even when it is motivated by perfectly legitimate philosophical or strategic disagreements, should never get in the way of seizing opportunities to shrink government and expand liberty.

W. James Antle III [Jimantle@aol.com]

I've just had the opportunity to read Caleb Paul's response to Mr. Smith's piece and my piece, and I must say that I was shocked but not surprised with his statement.

Mr. Paul tailors his response to my piece in the following:

"Mr Barnett talks about not churning out a first-rate global workforce, but I think he's missing the point. The crux of the matter is that the education system, whether public or private (in all but a few cases) is not about creating intelligent, free thinking individuals. It is concerned with creating a social hierarchy. Parents don't send their kids to private schools (except all those places like Steiner, Montessori, etc.) to think. They send them there to get a leg up on the competition and move into a different social circle. That's what my parents did. That's what almost everyone does, quite innocently."

Unfortunately it is Mr. Paul who misses the point here. I was talking about the government schools' inability to prepare our children for the workforce, due to the intense bureaucracy and central planning machinations that stagnate the quality and control of education. Considering the fact that education has been a federal matter for a long time and ceased to be a local matter decades ago, parents are increasingly becoming concerned about their children's quality of education considering the fact that teacher unions have politicized the education issue at the federal and state levels, lower and middle class parents who find that they can't afford to send their kids to a school of their choice—because the tax system discourages it—end up being trapped in the system, whether or not the system is delivering the results, and the indoctrination of our children by the government's use of political and sexual correctness has produced a hostile learning environment. It's been happening for years. Never mind the fact that the violence in the schools has become very common in the schools. Did Eric Harris and Dyland Klebold, the students who were responsible for the Columbine tragedy, attend a private school? No. They attended a public "government" school. But has anyone noticed that they were acting out like Hitler and the National Socialist Regime that was prominent during World War II? The schools are teaching them to believe that murder and violence are acceptable forms of actions, because the same methods were used by Hitler for his public "government" schools in Nazi Germany.

How many public schools are teaching our kids work ethics, which are essential for them if they wish to continue working at jobs in retail and other career fields? How many of our schools actually teach ethics to our youngsters? I have yet to see a public "government" school that is doing just that.

When I was attending Macomb Community College in my early 20s, I was in an English composition class that was filled with over 20 people, many of whom had just graduated from high school. I remember reading one of the students' papers (we were required to write a series impromptu essays on particular subjects) that she gave to me, because I was curious about her paper. The one thing I do remember noticing was that I could barely read her handwriting. The second I saw this, I thought to myself, "Who taught you how to handwrite?" I couldn't understand why she wasn't able to write very well in her handwriting. But when I became introduced to libertarianism and I learned tenets of the system, I finally realized why she couldn't— because of the second to third rate quality of instruction in the classrooms and the fact is that schools are no longer teaching handwriting schools but using computers instead. I'm not opposed to children using computers in the classroom—especially with regards to composition, but there are some things computers can't do, such as teaching kids how to handwrite (unless they're using software that teaches them how to handwrite).

Mr. Paul does bring up some rather interesting and valid points, but, in reference to my point about schools not preparing our children for work, he's off the mark.

Yours in Liberty,

Todd Andrew Barnett [libertarianman@comcast.net]


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