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Got Choices?


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Conclusions

We have dabbled in perhaps an unconventionally broad and diverse array of topics. These range from the origins of the universe, through human political history, and down to the mechanisms we use in modern times for carrying out trade and trying to improve the quality of our lives.

Hopefully, you have understood and appreciated how fundamentally the concept of choice binds these disparate topics together to give meaning and purpose to human existence.

We live in an amazing and wonderful universe—one we still do not fully understand. The very fact that we exist at all, and are capable of considering its mysteries, is incredible on its own. Whether you attribute your existence to the good fortune of chance or the act of an intelligent designer, depends on your Faith and how you have come to understand big questions.

What you believe about human free will and choice determines how you will treat other people as you work for your own survival and maintenance.

Our History

At various times in the evolution of science, it has seemed like we might find nature and our existence to be entirely deterministic—fully explainable and predictable. Some have thought, with just a little more time, we might soon comprehend it all and be able to prove each part to one another without any further need for faith or religion. Yet, in many ways we don’t seem to be getting any closer to this perfect enlightenment. In fact, the deeper we look into the building blocks of our own reality, the less certain and the less predictable it can seem to be.

It looks more and more as though we live in an existence which stubbornly defies definitive description—at least in the formal language of mathematics and science. Perhaps it was designed that way. Or maybe no system can be fully described using only the means contained within the limitations of its own boundaries. If so, perhaps we will never be able to fully describe the universe without somehow employing a language or system that exists outside the spacial and temporal dimensions we know as our reality.

In any case, it seems pretty clear we are here. We have the ability to choose. And our free will empowers us to change our own lives as well as the lives of other people around us. We can enhance or impair their ability to choose, as well as our own.

Will we have empathy for our fellow human beings? Will we respect and defend their free will with the same passion we feel for our own freedoms? Or will we focus our perceptions inwardly, thinking only of what we want and need?

Do we view the rest of humanity as a garden, planted solely for our own benefit from which we may selfishly harvest the goods and services we desire in order to assure own comfort during our earthly stay? Most of us are not that selfish. Rather, we recognize at least the theoretical importance of free will and choice for others, as well as ourselves. But if we don’t think it through carefully, we can sometimes end up acting in ways contrary to that belief.

Often this happens when we are fooled into false or partisan battles whereby one team, or tribe tries to prevail in its seemingly righteous cause over the other. And the ultimate result is the unwilling indenture of a class of producers for the benefit of an elite class of rulers.

It seems, this battle has been going on throughout the history of humanity. A relatively small part of the population are fervent lovers of choice and will make almost any sacrifice to protect and defend it for themselves as well as for others. Contrastingly, there also exists a minority of people, parasites and predators, who have little empathy or respect for others. Many of these will go to any length to exploit anyone and everyone if it serves their own selfish purposes.

Likely, the vast majority of us are somewhere in the middle. We are essentially good, mostly empathetic, and generally compassionate. But all to often, we end up getting fooled by a minority of unethical people who rise to positions of leadership by the power of their own charisma. They then rally the people to their faction under a seemly righteous ideal of conquering the evil embodied by other competing factions. Then they lead their faction into battles of conquest and plunder.

Such battles may involve actual war and bloodshed, or they may be fought in the arenas of politics, economics, public opinion, or the courts. Regardless, the prize is always the same—control over the labor and property of others.

Our Present

As we look back into the history of warfare and conquest throughout the world, it is easy to see how various tribes, cultures, or teams have tried to plunder and/or enslave each other in order to improve their own quality of life. As people and as cultures, we clearly have a history of looking beyond just the earth, its plants, its animals, and its other natural resources as a source of our own sustaining energy. Too often, we have also sought to prey upon other human beings and consume the product of their efforts.

Most people in modern societies would instinctively assume we have largely evolved beyond such practices. Although wars in the past may have been fought for such ends, surely today we are much more virtuous and honorable. Surely, we now live in a more civil culture where wars are fought only as a last resort. We would hope our wars are fought today only to protect our civil society from the acts of despots and dictators who would strip us of our free will through acts of aggression and terrorism.

But the battle over free will exists on many levels. Even within the bounds of our own civil society, this war rages in an ongoing and continual state. We do not always carry guns and swords into this battle.

More often, we use campaigns, advertising, education, and the popular media to produce a voting majority and thereby enact laws favoring one position or another. Using those laws, special interests can then employ the regulatory power of government to force the losers, or the minority to conform to the wishes of the winners, the majority. Behind the curtain, many of these interests are just big business, seeking to use big government regulation to improve their own bottom line.

This constitutes a virtual enslavement of the voting minority. And all too often it even ends up harming the winning team, the voting majority.

Is it any more moral to cause the exploitation of one class of people by another, simply because the task is accomplished by lawyers and politicians rather than by guns and soldiers? Isn’t is better to ask: why do we have to prey upon each other at all?

War and conflict continue to rage outside the boundaries of our civil society as well. Some of these wars are akin to our internal battles, waged in the court of public opinion through campaigns of propaganda and disinformation. Other wars are of the traditional kind where people are injured, disabled and killed by bullets and bombs. In spite of our technological progress and our sense of ethical maturity, we still continue to kill each other in fights of nation against nation, religion against religion, and tribe against tribe.

In most wars, both sides like to think they are completely justified. Each faction claims it is only defending its rights and freedoms. The other side is always considered as the evil aggressor.

Likely, such clarity has existed in certain cases. But much more often, wars are just fought to control money, wealth and power.

When big business can use big government to benefit from big war, bloodshed is sure to follow. One interesting account of this is detailed in a book called The Arms of Krupp by William Manchester.

It is a historical account of the Krupp dynasty, a family that operated manufacturing facilities in Essen, Germany for the production of cannon and other armaments for several hundred years. Initially these weapons were just used to defend the interests of the homeland. But over time, as the company became more and more powerful, the temptation to enhance business by actually fomenting new war and conflict became irresistible.

Are there big business interests today who benefit from armed war and conflict? Of course there are. And it is probably naive to think that, given they chance, they would not lobby for war either directly or indirectly.

Are there commodities that trade at higher prices when the world is in chaos than when there is peace? Certainly there are. And we can expect the producers of those commodities will hope for the worst in order to sell for the most.

So what about the conflicts your nation is involved in today? Is the other side the clear aggressor? Is your side clearly in the right?

We should hope so. But with limited information about the true facts, we are always left to wonder. Are there big business interests behind the scenes who benefit from the conflict? Surely there are. Are any of those interests actually spending money and resources to cause or deepen the conflicts? Possibly so.

So what do we do? Are we destined to live in a continual state of war and conflict no matter how far we might evolve socially? Or is there something we can do to finally move beyond it?

Our Future

After exploring so many different aspects of choice, we ultimately come down to perhaps the biggest of the big questions: Can one person own another person?

Only a few will still admit to believing so. Thankfully, the vast majority now understand, slavery is unacceptable. The problem is, most of us have not yet figured out how to fully apply this principle consistently in our practices, our politics and our beliefs.

It is great to acknowledge the belief that other people should enjoy the same degree of free will we expect to have for ourselves. But our actions must also match our words. We should actively oppose public policies that result in a loss of freedom for others. And we must support those methods of governing and structuring our civil society that respect and honor the principle of personal choice.

Another apparent paradox arises because the topic of choice is itself a big question. Different people are going to believe differently about just how much freedom of choice we really should have. We have arrived at the conclusion that good and evil are defined by the presence or absence of choice. So, how do we then justify forcing others to live according to this belief?

Said another way, if choice is good and slavery is evil, good people must still allow bad people to choose to be evil. Otherwise, they just become bad themselves.

Unfortunately, this seems to be an irreconcilable conflict between free will and peaceful security. How can good people live in peace and freedom, safe from predators and parasites who wish them harm?

It is possible to establish a nation which provides a free environment where people are largely allowed to choose their own future. Borders can be established to protect us from those hostile to these values. But there are still bound to be occasional acts of internal aggression which can only be dealt with by a system of justice, or punishment, after the fact. This is not always sufficient to prevent the crime in the first place, nor does it do much to restore the victim of the crime.

Alternatively, we could attempt to create a protected environment where individuals lack the very ability to commit acts of aggression against their neighbors. But to do this, we would have to preemptively take away choices and limit the freedoms of a great many people who are not inclined to commit acts of aggression in the first place. So it makes life much worse for a lot of good people. And sadly, it is not very effective in stopping acts of injustice either.

Bad people are inclined to do bad things regardless of what laws and regulations we might enact. The good people tend to obey the regulatory limitations of government, but they are not the people we really have to worry about. They generally try to respect the rights of their neighbors anyway.

Furthermore, when we create such powerful regulatory structures designed to assure desired societal outcomes, the resulting centers of power prove to be irresistible magnets for evil and corruption. They attract the very worst among us who would use that power for their own selfish ends. The result is the enslavement of people who should be free to pursue their own happiness and enjoy the fruits of their own labors.

In the question of choice, the consistent answer is: “yes, we all have a choice.” Good people should have every possible opportunity to choose and to direct the course of their own lives. Similarly, even bad people also get to choose. But having chosen to subjugate others, they should not assume that choice will be without consequence.

A victim of injustice is rightly entitled to defend himself, preserving his own opportunity for choices now and in the future. This is still ethically consistent even if it results in a loss of choice for the aggressor.

Hopefully, an act of self defense does not rise to the level of a new an undeserved aggression against the perceived enemy. Otherwise, the conflict may continue to escalate until the parties get tired of fighting or one side is finally vanquished. Then peace can continue again for a time.

So individuals have a right to defend their own right to choose. Therefore, they can also organize themselves into individual countries and states to achieve the benefits and protections of increased strength.

Unfortunately, the forces of evil may also band together for increased strength. Their purpose may be to engage in the organized plunder of other competing countries and states.

The unfortunate conclusion is: we probably cannot avoid the threat of ongoing war and conflict. The laws of economics and our existence in a world of scarce resources will not allow it. Either we engage in a continual fight to preserve individual and organized free agency, or we succumb to the forces of evil and submit to bondage and slavery.

Gloomy as that is, these conditions do seem nearly ideal for exposing who and what each one of us is, at our heart. Will we ultimately choose good or evil? Are we producers, parasites, or predators? Do we have true empathy for other human beings or do we feel only for ourselves, willing to feed upon other people as though we own them or are otherwise entitled to their lives and productivity?

If you believe in a supreme creator and an after-life, you may find meaning, purpose and perhaps even solace in this result alone: People will eventually be shown for what they truly are. If you are not such a believer, then at least you can choose who and what you will be for yourself, hopefully on the basis of some other moral, philosophical or scientific frame of reference.

Regardless it is apparent, freedom is not free. If those who value their own free will wish to live in a civil society where they can freely exercise their agency, they may have to fight from time to time to preserve that right. Otherwise, the laws of economics predict they will eventually end up in slavery, working on behalf of people who do not share their ethic.

In order to protect our freedoms, we can organize ourselves into groups with other people who also share our desire for freedom. We can then develop systems of laws and order to protect our free will, apply justice where acts of aggression violate those principles, and mount a defense against outside influences which would threaten the stability and security established within the borders of our civil society.

The United States of America was established for this very purpose. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution recognize, individuals have certain rights which exist as a condition of their creation—not as a privilege, granted by government or some other person. People have a right to pursue happiness in the ways they deem best and they can also organize in a civil society and delegate those rights to a government tasked with the protection of their liberties.

Under this belief, government exists for the benefit and protection of the individuals within the society. No one person is supreme, or king, who can have a right of ownership over any other person or the product of his labors.

Under the form of government defined in the Constitution, the federal government is primarily responsible for protecting the society from outside threats. Then within the protection of this federal framework, there are individual states responsible for making laws and regulations more particular to the practices of the people and cultures within its boundaries. These are intended to be decided by systems of representative democracy so the wishes of the majority can be balanced against the need to preserve free will and resist any sort of tyranny over the minority.

All the while, individuals and families should not be unduly burdened by the federal government. They should enjoy unobstructed freedom to reside in the individual state of their choice so they can select the more particular form of local government that meets their needs and conforms to their individual values and beliefs. In this way, we can maximize choice for the greatest number of people possible and foster a genuine diversity of cultures and beliefs.

The one belief we must never tolerate, however is that some people are supreme over others. In order to live free in a republic, you must be willing to let others live free as well. You must believe in life, liberty and the free pursuit of happiness. If instead your beliefs lead you to subjugation and plunder, you must live your life outside under some other regime, or inside behind prison bars.

When true diversity is allowed to flourish in an environment of free will, protected from the aggression of predators and parasites, we see a predictable result: evolution. Society progresses. The life force within us reacts with the laws of nature, and the laws of economics, to become stronger and better adapted. New technology is produced which can promote further choices and greater enjoyment of life and liberty. Productivity increases so there are more resources available. This allows us to better care for those who are unable to care for themselves.

True, the forces fighting against free will and individual agency are powerful and wealthy. There are vast sums of money to be made by holding the populace in perpetual servitude. But there is still much to be hopeful about in our future. There are more good people than bad. If we can find ways to join together around the unifying principle of choice, we can achieve a proper balance.

We must admit we need some degree of centralization of power in order for government to protect our freedoms in a civil society. But we also need to remember, when we centralize too much power, that power is sure to be usurped by the very people we need protection from.

Power, once established can be used to accrue more and more power. This is a process of positive, or seemingly unregulated feedback, bound to run off to extremes. But we don’t have to wait for that. As respecters of choice, we can apply our own corrective feedback to the system.

It is only when people are no longer willing to put up with the corruption in their government will true reform come. If we remain silent, one failure of power will simply be replaced by an even bigger failure of power. And we will continue to lose our freedom, one choice at a time.

We have discussed a few specific proposals in the areas of Education, Energy, and Money. In each of these areas, we have suffered because of an over-concentration of regulatory power. Government sponsored monopolies of one kind or another gather ever more power, but they become ever less accountable, less effective and less efficient.

Lacking natural economic feedback, any of these systems will eventually go unstable, breaking down in one way or another. When they do, there will always be calls for government to step in and fix the very problem it has created.

Too often, big business will also be lurking in the background with a ready solution to address the issue, if only taxes can be raised to afford the price tag. The result will be a newer and larger, even more centralized center of power ironically tasked with solving a problem initially caused by government that was too big and too centralized in the first place.

True strength, effectiveness and resilience comes not from centralization, but from diversity.

We see a good example in the field of biology. If a population of animals all come from exactly the same genetic strain, a single virus can come along and wipe out the entire group. If instead, they enjoy a diversity of genetic makeups, it is much more likely a hostile virus will affect only a part of the group. The rest will remain to reproduce and create a new generation resilient to the virus.

Similarly, our systems of civil society such as education, energy production and money will be most resilient when they can exist in many smaller, different and diverse ways.

We have too many institutions both in and out of government, now deemed “too big to fail.” Whether it is a large bank, an automobile manufacturer or an insurance company, if something is too big to fail, that is a sure sign it is just too big. Sadly, we can also be pretty sure it is eventually going fail.

As breakdowns and failures occur within our present, over-centralized systems, it is important to have solutions ready and available to replace them—solutions that are more diverse, sustainable, and decentralized. These types of alternate solutions are unlikely to be adopted voluntarily by those institutions already in power.

Much like a living organism, big government and big business will act first to preserve and strengthen themselves. They are unlikely to act in any way that will reform or devolve their own power. When we naively trust established power to reform itself, the result is nearly always an evolution toward more centralization and power.

True change must come from the bottom up, or we sometimes say, from the “grass roots.”

Where federal power needs to be devolved, state governors and legislatures are best positioned to press for the changes. Where state governments have accrued too much power, cities and counties should band together to fight against it. When cities and counties overstep their bounds, neighborhoods and families must unite to set things back in their proper order.

To be genuine, reforms are best to come from below. And ultimately this means you and me.

We have to get involved to make positive change or things will not improve.

Money

It is important to remember, the underlying economic instabilities exposed in the 2008 financial crisis have not gone away. There are fundamental structural flaws in our monetary system which cannot be corrected by emergency stimulus spending or repeated rounds of quantitative easing. So there are bound to be more failures in the future—eventually one will be catastrophic.

This problem of over centralization is biggest at the federal level. So state governors and legislatures should be asking themselves how they can foster a continuation of commerce and trade in their states when a monetary or financial crisis occurs nationally or world-wide. They should begin now to institute a legal framework to encourage the development of complementary currencies, independent of the dollar so they can retain their value even in if the Federal Reserve crashes.

While states are not allowed by the Constitution to coin money themselves, still it is clear, individuals have the right to create credit money—we do it every day under current law and practices. States certainly can make it clear they will enforce the contracts necessary to facilitate the private creation and regulation of credit money, including systems like CHIPs. And if federal lawmakers, regulators or judges take steps to protect the federal monopoly from this private competition, states can band together and fight for the rights of the people to use money that is free from the control of big banks and big government.

It is not even necessary for such alternative monetary systems to dominate the economy. But it is important they exist and become viable so when centralized systems teeter and fall, people will have alternatives to which they can quickly turn.

When the Federal Reserve dollar ultimately fails, we are sure to hear calls to move to a single currency managed by a world-wide, central bank. When that happens, it is important we reject this move for greater centralization and even more of the corruption that brought us the financial instabilities in the first place. Otherwise, we will all become slaves to an even bigger, more corrupt banking monopoly than the one we already work for.

Let us act now to implement diverse, stable and sustainable options so they will be ready when they are needed most.

Energy

Energy is critical to our economy because it is at the heart of everything we need to survive. If hostile interests want to hold us hostage, all they need to do is control our access to energy.

When our flow of chemical energy stops, our flow of food and water will not be far behind. An interruption to the electrical grid would create an immediate crisis in communication, banking and commerce.

Control over the energy supply is like holding a choke collar around the neck of all humanity. All you have to do is give it a squeeze and hungry people may be willing to do about anything to survive.

If we allow big business and its allies in big government to stay in monopolistic control of our means of producing, distributing and using energy, we are cooperating in our own exploitation. We will be unable to resist any threat to increase control over our lives and further limit our freedom to choose and direct our own futures.

One definition of energy independence is, American companies produce gas and oil from sources solely located on American soil. This is a worthy goal as it is critical to maintain independence from foreign nations and powers who seldom have our best interests at heart.

But there is an even higher vision for the future of energy independence. This involves millions of individuals, families, and small businesses generating electrical and chemical energy whether from sunlight directly, wind power, or the stored reserves found in plants and fossil fuels.

We don’t have to produce all our energy from renewable sources. But we do need to break up the monopolies by deregulating the industry so smaller, individual businesses can better compete. And we need to have the framework in place so independent producers can distribute energy to their own customers without being blocked by big government regulatory barriers.

When a strong and thriving private infrastructure is in place for the production and distribution of energy, we won’t have to worry so much about disruptions that might occur in foreign supplies. We can be assured we are not paying more than market prices for energy produced in foreign countries. And we will be free to break those ties and rely solely on our domestic reserves if and when it is necessary for our own national security.

This appeal should not be interpreted as a call for government subsidies of alternative power technologies like solar and wind. The private market will provide all the necessary funding when the laws of economics determine the time is right. Public subsidies of industries that are not, of themselves, economically viable is not sustainable and it is not very effective either. It wastes scarce resources, and it unfairly picks winners and losers in a market setting where we should instead be placing more confidence in the laws of economics to expose the most viable and efficient solutions.

But we should immediately break up the monopolies that exist in the area of electrical power generation and distribution. Recognize, most of the current monopolies exists because of government regulation—not in spite of it.

The time may come when technology will provide for multiple electrical distribution grids. If that happens, we can take the next step toward further privatization and deregulation. But for now, we should privatize electrical power generation and maintain public management only over the means of distribution—the grid.

We need to encourage a broad and diverse array of competitors to produce and distribute power over a grid recognized as a publicly owned, managed and controlled resource. And we need to make sure small business is able to compete in the process by avoiding a huge array of overbearing regulations.

Where future technology emerges to allow for similar decentralization of the distribution of chemical energy, we should similarly support it. Where possible, we should encourage this to evolve in a context of small business, geographically distributed across the country rather than in a single, centralized industry which quickly becomes too big to fail.

Education

Education may be as critical to our social evolution as the very process of reproduction itself. By reproduction, we pass on to future generations the genetic information perfected through generations of natural selection. Through education, we pass on the knowledge learned the hard way by past generations struggling to survive in a world of entropy and a lot of unanswered, big questions.

We would shudder at the idea of mandating all children born must conform to a single, optimized genetic strain. Although we possess the technology to bring about such a world, we attribute that kind of thinking to only the most evil among us. We rightly understand, there exists an ethical and moral value in the notion that people of all races and ethnicities have an inherent right to exist as they have been created, whether by God or by nature.

We respect the idea that a wide array of genetic diversity is our strength, not our weakness. We hope for all people to be respected for what they are, not eliminated because of what they are not.

Similarly, we seem to understand the value in respecting a wide spectrum of cultural diversity and varying belief systems. We know how cultures evolve from the roots of family and community. And we seem to understand, at least intellectually, how this is a good thing.

But somehow, when it comes to educating our children, we have slipped gradually into the notion that “one size fits all.” Many of us now accept that everyone should be taught according to a single, state-approved set of beliefs and standards. Why are we so intolerant of diversity when it comes to education?

Over time, our education system has gradually become more and more centralized. Control that once existed firmly with parents and teachers was lost to the district level. Districts gradually lost power to state legislatures and school boards. Today, we see states rapidly losing control to federal programs, curricula and standards.

If our diversity is our strength, then education has been getting weaker and weaker.

Occasionally we hear of someone objecting to a Christmas tree being erected on school grounds or the singing of a religious hymn by a school choir. We have been told such things somehow constitute the “establishment of religion” and so are unconstitutional. And yet, many find nothing wrong with establishing state and/or federal standards on a variety of school subjects, many of which are a matter of opinion and Faith for many people.

When the government forces schools to teach a certain way, this constitutes a state-approved way of thinking and believing. For example, students may attend a class discussing the origins of the universe. Regardless of whether this involves a god or a very large explosion, it still constitutes a government-sanctioned doctrine. This seems much more an establishment of official religious thought than to allow individuals to express their individual beliefs through a song or a symbol.

Recently the Federal Government has even attempted to meddle in local school policies by mandating who must be allowed to enter a boy’s or girl’s lavatory. Have we really strayed this far away from the Constitutional value of a limited federal government? Do we really think school administrators are incapable of managing their own bathrooms?

These silly fights over policy do not occur because there is too much religion in school. And they don’t happen because administrators are too feeble minded to properly understand who belongs in the girls’ bathroom. They happen because we have evolved into a monolithic, government-run education system where policies and decisions come from the top down, and everyone is forced to do things the same way.

If we really value diversity of thought, we will learn to keep the government out of the business of establishing an official point of view on anything other than the very most basic Constitutional values of life, liberty and individual freedom to pursue happiness. If Johnnie’s parents want him in the girls bathroom, maybe they can find a school that supports such a policy. If Suzie’s parents don’t want Johnnie in her bathroom, they should be allowed to attend a school that supports their point of view. If there is room in the world for both Johnnie and Suzie, there should also be room for more than one school bathroom policy.

It really is not that complicated.

We can all have it our way. But we have to limit government’s power—particularly over education, and most importantly, at the federal level.

States can help out by doing two things: First, they should “just say no” to any kind of federal interference in the way school children are taught and educated in their state. This does not mean they should not cooperate voluntarily in the establishment of nation-wide testing standards. But it does mean they should not accept grants or other financial incentives in return for adopting federal programs, standards or curricula.

The federal government should not tax citizens directly, and then use that money to coerce states into doing education “the federal way.” If the federal tax base includes enough money to spend on education, let it be collected instead at the state level where there are no federal strings attached and policies can better be geared toward community needs and standards.

We should never expect federal reforms to originate at the federal level. If states want more freedom to manage their own systems, they will have to stand together against federal overreach.

Secondly, state governments should try to recognize why they don’t appreciate centralized mandates coming from Washington. This should make them a little more understanding when Cities and Counties unite to lobby for more educational control at local levels. States can learn to trust local communities to establish their own standards and procedures.

Still, reforms of state over-regulation are not likely to originate with state legislators or state school boards. Parents, communities and local school boards need to demand change from their state legislatures until true educational choice exists for every parent and family. This means decoupling the functions of government so they are not in charge of both the funding, and the provision of educational content.

Let us agree by the time-honored process of democratic representation, and at the state level, what public funding we will make available so all kids can obtain a basic level of education, regardless of the economic circumstances they are born into. But let us also get government out of the business of teaching our kids how to think and what to believe. It should be up to private and community schools to perform this function. And it should be up to parents to decide which institutions best fit the needs of the child and the family.

Some may worry, kids in one school might not get as good an education as kids in another school. But this is already happening in our highly centralized environment. Chances are, if parents were not so dependent upon state or federal governments to decide how their kids should be educated, they would take more incentive and rise to the challenge to make those decisions themselves. Today most parents spend much more time choosing which car they will buy or where they will take their next vacation than they do choosing what kind of school their kids will attend.

Should we worry that parents are not qualified to choose the best education for their children? Perhaps a better question is, should we trust big business, working hand-in-hand with big government to decide what kind of education is best for our kids?

An enormous industry has evolved around the provision of educational materials. The greater the centralization, the more money ends up going to a few huge corporate providers. And fewer resources are left in the classroom to pay well qualified teachers who can effectively teach our young people.

We must trust parents to choose an education for their kids just as we can trust them to feed their kids. They don’t do either job perfectly, but they will do much better than trusting the matter to the self-serving forces of politics and profits.

Children do much better in school when they have more involvement from their parents. And eventually they will become adults and be fully able to make their own choices.

Perhaps if the worst happens, and due to bad parental choices, a child doesn’t get educated very well at all. Why not tie public funding to the successful education of our kids, regardless of their age. That way, if parents or schools fail to get the job done, the student herself can secure a competent provider even after becoming an adult. The point is, we can create systems at the state level, sensitive to the principle of choice and responsive to the needs of individual students and families.

Competent, informed adults need to own, and take responsibility for themselves. We need to be in charge of our own choices, and we need to be accountable for the consequences of those choices. Accordingly, parents need to be in charge of how their kids are raised until those kids are old enough to make their own choices. This is how we maintain true respect for our cultural diversity.

We will know when enough has been done to reform public education when it works like this:

  • In your community there are many different schools to choose from.
  • These might include religious schools, privately owned schools operated for a profit, and non-profit schools operated by local community governments.
  • Because these institutions have employees and budgets of their own, you understand there is a cost associated with educating our young people. You recognize your responsibility to pay as much of that cost as possible for your own children.
  • But you have easy access to available private and state-funded subsidies to assure, even if you do not have the financial ability to pay for all of your child’s schooling yourself, you can still choose a school that is competent and qualified.
  • You have easy access on the Internet to find simple and understandable reporting metrics showing the performance scores of each of the schools you have access to in your community.
  • This would include how they score on nation-wide testing standards established voluntarily by cooperating states. It would also include things like how widely graduates of the individual programs are accepted into college programs, and what average salary levels graduates go on to earn in their careers.
  • It could eventually even include surveys of how satisfied graduates are with their lives and how they have fared in social and personal relationships.

Democracy is a wonderful thing, especially when compared to the alternative of dictatorial rule. But even majority rule is still a blunt instrument. It does not often respect the rights of the minority.

When it comes to education, we can do so much better. There is no reason the minority has to do education a certain way, simply because a majority says so. And there is no reason the majority has to do education a certain way, just because a judge says so.

We don’t have to be afraid of allowing individual beliefs and cultures in education. We don’t have to be afraid of different people doing education in different ways. We don’t have to force every child into a uniform mold. We don’t even have to force every child to attend traditional schools.

People will come to understand, some schools might be stronger in certain areas such as fine arts, communication, or athletics. Other schools may excel in mathematics, science, or technical training. It is OK for schools to develop their own policies on discipline, curriculum and procedures. It is even OK for people to opt out of the public schools altogether if they feel that is the best choice for their kids.

We don’t all have to be the same.

In fact, by fostering differences, we will have that many more options to choose from. As with any other consumer decision, parents can consider the cost of available schools, along with the type of training and social experiences they want most for their children. And then they can make a choice.

Having made a choice, they will feel the joy and satisfaction that comes from being in charge of ones own life. They will be much more invested in their children’s education.

Parents will be better informed and more involved. They will be more likely to help out with homework, to make sure assignments are complete, and to participate in the classroom. Because of this increased interest and involvement, their children will do better in school and will be more likely to develop a true love for learning. The result will be better for everyone.

Finally, when it comes to adult education, it’s time to start thinking outside the traditional box. Education may have evolved to mean 30 students and a teacher, in a classroom, with a chalk board. But it doesn’t always have to work that way.

We can have authentically free education:

Let us be free to educate ourselves by any means we choose, including unsupervised personal study in books and on the Internet. If we can demonstrate our competence in our area of study, that should be enough. Society should begin to focus more on what people have learned and what they are capable of, rather than obsessing over the institutions in which they were taught.

Parting Thoughts

The good news is, people can have increased joy and satisfaction with their lives by having and using their power to choose. And there are things each of us can do right now to foster and enhance our choices.

The bad news is, you probably can’t just wait for someone else to defend your rights for you. It would seem, freedom is not free. Like everything else in life, you have to work for it. Where a power structure exists above you, it is only you, and your peers beside you, who can rise up and reform that power.

If you are a parent, please rise up for choice. Associate yourself with other parents, and fight where you have influence to provide more choices and opportunities for yourself and the other families in your community.

Don’t fight to implement your own personal point of view so everyone else has to do things your way. That would only result in greater concentrations of regulatory power.

Instead, fight for authentic reform. While fighting to preserve choices for your family, also fight to preserve that same right for others. Teach your own cultural values to your children and respect others as they do the same.

If you are an individual, please rise up for choice. Associate yourself with other individuals and work together to lobby those in public office. Perhaps you will even run for public office yourself.

Don’t fight to implement new laws and regulations forcing others to do things your way. Rather, fight to deconstruct and reform laws dictating how things must be done.

Fight to repeal laws limiting the creation of private, complementary currencies. Fight to reduce regulations so we can have more choices in the foods we eat, the ways we learn, the ways we trade, the health services we use, and the ways we access energy. Fight against laws and regulations that favor one group of people at the expense of another. Fight against institutional slavery, by degrees.

Remember, partisan political fights between Democrats and Republicans do not really address your best interests. No one is really helped when we use democracy to force the minority to do things a certain way. Instead, let us discover what the majority and the minorities want, and figure out a way for them all to have it.

If you are a small business owner, please rise up for choice. Associate yourself with other entrepreneurs and work together to lobby those who make the laws regulating the way you do business. Don’t fight for government to impose further regulations in an attempt to protect you from newer, smaller competitors. Instead, find ways to differentiate yourself and to inform your customers about why your company is so much better.

Choose to provide an excellent product and service. Then let your customers freely choose you, over the competition.

Consider starting a new business in the field of energy production. Maybe you can new ways to produce and distributes energy in a non-centralized and scalable way.

Consider starting a private or community school. Maybe you can provide just the educational experience parents are looking for. Maybe you can make a positive impact on the next generation.

Consider starting a CHIP bank. Maybe you are a lawyer and can design the contract and legal framework to assure stable and reliable value. Maybe you are a programmer and can develop the software necessary for tracking billions of transactions throughout the world.

Whatever business you are in, please don’t try to use the power of government to force people to buy your product or service.

If you are an elected official or a government employee, please rise up for choice. Your job is not to manage your constituents, but rather to protect their rights. So at whatever level of government you operate, you should pay more attention to “foreign relations” and less attention to “domestic policy.”

For example, you might work at the state level. So associate yourself with your peers, including those in other states. Use your combined power to devolve the federal power above you. This will create more freedom and choices in the ways you can do things at the state level. Then have a little faith in the counties and cities below you. Trust them to manage things without your constant meddling.

If you work at the federal level, stop trying to micro-manage the states. Trust states to use representative democracy to enact their own laws and regulations in accordance with local standards and values. Concentrate more on keeping our civil society safe from foreign and domestic enemies of freedom and choice. This includes deciding if, and when, we must engage ourselves in a war. When we do, we want to be sure we are only defending our freedom and not engaging in acts of aggression ourselves.

Or, maybe you are not willing to stand up for choice at all.

Maybe you think you know best what everyone else should be doing, how they should live, and what they should believe. Maybe you think you do not have to produce for yourself, but rather can just take what you want and need from other people. Maybe you justify yourself by trying to force other people to perform the charity you should be doing yourself.

Maybe you think it is OK to use the power of government to make your business more successful or to enhance your own personal prosperity. Maybe you think it is acceptable to use your position in government to enrich your friends, your allies, and your supporters. Maybe you work in an existing government sponsored monopoly and you don’t want to rock the boat if it might affect your job.

If you are one of these people, watch out. It is true, the strong can prey upon the weak. But the people you exploit, together are stronger than you are.

And when they figure out what you are really doing and they unite against you, you may find the tables have turned.

We can evolve. We can progress. And you can make it happen.

Won’t it be great if, when we get there, we still have a choice?
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