(Frank Schnorbus) – I am troubled by the current healthcare debate for a number of reasons, but mostly because of the similarity of the arguments used 100 plus years ago when individual states were considering making education compulsory.
Our own Senator Reid’s “solution” to “allow” states to opt out is nothing new. Remember that Massachusetts was the first to pass a law requiring school attendance in 1852, and Mississippi the last in 1918 (Alaska was 1929, but was a Territory at the time). One by one all of the States will eventually “opt in” to this “public healthcare option” as fiscal pressures to comply are applied by Washington DC, and Senator Reid knows it.
One hundred or so years ago there were publicly funded “common” schools, but attendance wasn’t required. Private and charity schools, which had dominated the landscape previously, had to try to compete with these free or comparatively inexpensive common schools, driving a significant percentage of them out of existence.
Making education compulsory then gave states an excuse to regulate the remaining private schools, and most states attempted to either regulate them out of business altogether, or force them to be very expensive clones of public schools that only wealthy people could afford.
Note that the current healthcare debate includes the “public option”, where all people will be required to have insurance and those who can’t afford it will have it given to them. Any remaining private insurance companies will be very highly regulated. This sounds chillingly like compulsory public school to me.
I know there is a percentage of people who think that government can do a better job at anything, but there are many of us who don’t think so. I got an email today that showed a sign of all the “broke” government programs (Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Post Office, Cash for Clunkers); I was surprised that education wasn’t listed because it should be #1! Maybe it’s because it isn’t seen as an explicitly Federal program, but we all know that the Feds drive every decision in every single pubic school system in the country.
I then watched a segment on The News Hour with Jim Lehrer with the new AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka. As the chief spokesman for organized labor, including teacher’s unions, Trumka was shown in one clip as he was being briefed on organized labor’s lobbying efforts for “government insurance for all, the so-called public option”, as the reporter described it.
I immediately recalled a 1985 quote by Albert Shanker, former president of the American Federation of Teachers, “When school children start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of school children.”
Could you imagine a nurse’s union uttering that in a medical system where there is no real choice in healthcare? It somehow seems that government mandated programs become bad for the common man as special interest groups work to monopolize and extort.
It also becomes an issue of freedom. As I read histories and stories of our country’s founding and the westward expansion, I often wonder how it would have happened if we had compulsory education, mandatory healthcare, cops on every corner, and a Gestapo-like mentality where today we call the authorities whenever we see a car that’s smoking, or worse, a person that’s smoking.
Nowadays we have authorities that second guess your every decision, especially in the area of child-raising. The Soviets encouraged children to turn in parents who were, hold your breath, Christians! Recently there have been accusations of educational abuse for parents who teach Intelligent Design instead of the state-approved Evolutionary Theory.
These bureaucratic mental midgets now want a healthcare system that will effectively stifle innovation by eliminating all real choice, and force every living American to be part of it. I personally feel it should be my choice if I want to go to a doctor or not, or have healthcare or not.
Of course I have compassion for those who have needs, be they medical, physical, spiritual or emotional needs. But I don’t see anywhere in the Constitution where the Federal government should be involved in meeting those needs. I know that we have a lot of precedence for Federal intervention, and there are cases where I might agree that the program has done some good.
But given the government’s track record in education alone, I am certain that we are dangerously close to making a colossal mistake in healthcare that we will forever regret.
(Mr. Schnorbus is Chairman of the Nevada Homeschool Network)