The Liberal Culture of Compulsion

If you listen to your liberal friend, she will tell, perhaps, of a wonderful program at the local community college that is helping in the fight for  literacy in adult women.  Probably she heard about it on NPR.

It is a wonderful thing to have adult literacy programs.  Only, of course, there's no way to tell if they do any good.  And there is no way for you to opt out and say "no thanks, I'd prefer to contribute to Bill Gates's literacy programs instead."

Our liberal friends are also apt to roll the soft-focus shots when it comes to our kids.  They are big on the celebration of the "common school," the euphemism for government child custodial facilities invented in the 19th century in the campaign to centralize local schooling under state government administration.  Said Horace Mann, the father of the common school:

Let the Common School be expanded to its capabilities, let it be worked with the efficiency of which it is susceptible, and nine tenths of the crimes in the penal code would become obsolete; the long catalogue of human ills would be abridged.

Mann's timing was impeccable.  His system went into effect just in time for the big crime wave of the 1840s.

In recent weeks, we've been experiencing the reality of all this feel-good effort to help the kids.  Apparently the need to help the kids is nothing compared with the need for government teachers to unionize.  You would think that, if the moral urgency of teaching kids is so great, that teachers would be glad to teach for almost nothing, as in fact the teachers in Catholic schools, the proverbial nuns memorialized in The Blues Brothers, really did.

Why did the Catholics build their own school system, and why did they inspire generations of young women to become nuns and teach in those schools?  It was because the liberals in the mid 19th century, Harvard Unitarians like Horace Mann, in unholy alliance with Protestant leaders, declared that only the Protestant Bible could be used in the public schools for non-sectarian religious instruction.  They had an agenda, of course.  They figured that they would cure the Irish Catholics of their popish ways and turn them into real Americans.  The Catholics, led by chaps like John "Dagger" Hughes, an immigrant gardener who became the first Catholic Archbishop of New York, rioted in Philadelphia over that issue, and then determined to build their own schools rather than allow their children to be polluted by the Protestant Bible.

Nothing has really changed.  Today's liberals want to cure America's children of any Christianity, and if they haven't succeeded by the 12th grade they have a college for your kid that specializes in remedial secular instruction in between the parties.  And so today there are parents who would rather educate their children at home than send them to be polluted by union teachers in the government schools.

Samuel Johnson famously asserted that patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.  But that was in simpler times, and cannot be applied to today's complex interconnected society.  Back in the 18th century the most that an average scoundrel could get from his patriotism was a chance to riot every now and again, as in the Gordon Riots of 1780.  These days people pour into the streets over more substantial issues than the Papists Act of 1778.  They riot over their government pensions.

Notice the beautiful symmetry of the liberal philosophy.  First they were determined to force the taxpayers to pay for education.  Then they determined to force parents to send their children to the government school.  Now they want to force us to pay for their pensions, just because some crooked politician promised them a pension in every garage years ago.

I will tell you what I call a political culture that turns every social problem into a government program.  I call that a culture of compulsion, and I want no part of it.

Yes, but we must have a system to educate the children.  That's what my liberal friends insist when I utter heretical thoughts about the failures of government programs.

Yes we must.  But why on earth would we do it with a system of government force?  Why on earth does it always have to be done upon compulsion?  Why is this "system" always a centralized government system of compulsion designed by liberals, run by liberals, and why does it always need to pay pensions to liberals?  I say that liberals should get their own pensions.

We conservatives have a better idea about all of this.  We'll tell you about it, America, if you're interested.

Let's have a national conversation about America's corrupt culture of compulsion.

Christopher Chantrill is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. See his usgovernmentspending.com and also usgovernmentdebt.us.  At americanmanifesto.org he is blogging and writing An American Manifesto: Life After Liberalism.
If you listen to your liberal friend, she will tell, perhaps, of a wonderful program at the local community college that is helping in the fight for  literacy in adult women.  Probably she heard about it on NPR.

It is a wonderful thing to have adult literacy programs.  Only, of course, there's no way to tell if they do any good.  And there is no way for you to opt out and say "no thanks, I'd prefer to contribute to Bill Gates's literacy programs instead."

Our liberal friends are also apt to roll the soft-focus shots when it comes to our kids.  They are big on the celebration of the "common school," the euphemism for government child custodial facilities invented in the 19th century in the campaign to centralize local schooling under state government administration.  Said Horace Mann, the father of the common school:

Let the Common School be expanded to its capabilities, let it be worked with the efficiency of which it is susceptible, and nine tenths of the crimes in the penal code would become obsolete; the long catalogue of human ills would be abridged.

Mann's timing was impeccable.  His system went into effect just in time for the big crime wave of the 1840s.

In recent weeks, we've been experiencing the reality of all this feel-good effort to help the kids.  Apparently the need to help the kids is nothing compared with the need for government teachers to unionize.  You would think that, if the moral urgency of teaching kids is so great, that teachers would be glad to teach for almost nothing, as in fact the teachers in Catholic schools, the proverbial nuns memorialized in The Blues Brothers, really did.

Why did the Catholics build their own school system, and why did they inspire generations of young women to become nuns and teach in those schools?  It was because the liberals in the mid 19th century, Harvard Unitarians like Horace Mann, in unholy alliance with Protestant leaders, declared that only the Protestant Bible could be used in the public schools for non-sectarian religious instruction.  They had an agenda, of course.  They figured that they would cure the Irish Catholics of their popish ways and turn them into real Americans.  The Catholics, led by chaps like John "Dagger" Hughes, an immigrant gardener who became the first Catholic Archbishop of New York, rioted in Philadelphia over that issue, and then determined to build their own schools rather than allow their children to be polluted by the Protestant Bible.

Nothing has really changed.  Today's liberals want to cure America's children of any Christianity, and if they haven't succeeded by the 12th grade they have a college for your kid that specializes in remedial secular instruction in between the parties.  And so today there are parents who would rather educate their children at home than send them to be polluted by union teachers in the government schools.

Samuel Johnson famously asserted that patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.  But that was in simpler times, and cannot be applied to today's complex interconnected society.  Back in the 18th century the most that an average scoundrel could get from his patriotism was a chance to riot every now and again, as in the Gordon Riots of 1780.  These days people pour into the streets over more substantial issues than the Papists Act of 1778.  They riot over their government pensions.

Notice the beautiful symmetry of the liberal philosophy.  First they were determined to force the taxpayers to pay for education.  Then they determined to force parents to send their children to the government school.  Now they want to force us to pay for their pensions, just because some crooked politician promised them a pension in every garage years ago.

I will tell you what I call a political culture that turns every social problem into a government program.  I call that a culture of compulsion, and I want no part of it.

Yes, but we must have a system to educate the children.  That's what my liberal friends insist when I utter heretical thoughts about the failures of government programs.

Yes we must.  But why on earth would we do it with a system of government force?  Why on earth does it always have to be done upon compulsion?  Why is this "system" always a centralized government system of compulsion designed by liberals, run by liberals, and why does it always need to pay pensions to liberals?  I say that liberals should get their own pensions.

We conservatives have a better idea about all of this.  We'll tell you about it, America, if you're interested.

Let's have a national conversation about America's corrupt culture of compulsion.

Christopher Chantrill is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. See his usgovernmentspending.com and also usgovernmentdebt.us.  At americanmanifesto.org he is blogging and writing An American Manifesto: Life After Liberalism.