Many American parents are revolting against the anti-American propaganda that their children are learning in many state schools. But it’s worse. Basic educational standards have been on the wane for decades in public schools as taxpayers pour more and more money into failing systems that graduate young people who can’t obtain good jobs. These state education systems are protected by entrenched bureaucracies. The condition becomes, wrote economist Milton Friedman, “the tyranny of the status quo.”

More Dinero for Failure

Parents, who know many of their leaders send their kids to private schools, wonder why the state educational establishment often does a lousy job preparing children to compete in a high-tech world.

These parents also object to the exercise of raw political power at taxpayer expense. Some schools become political indoctrination centers instead of teaching the skills that will help young people compete.

But the left’s schools solution for generations has been the same: Spend more taxpayer geld on public schools even as they concede that many state schools are “failure factories.” They resist the logic of their criticism: Radical problems demand radical solutions.

The dangers of state education have been debated for generations. Yet our democracy is not unique, nor are these debates over how much should be spent on state schools and who controls them.

A Victorian Education Prophet

Over a century and half ago, Victorian economist and political philosopher John Stuart Mill argued that society owed every child an education. However, Mill— a classical liberal who unfortunately was moving toward socialism at the end of his life—had an unusual view. He said society had an obligation to educate every child, but insisted the schooling should not come from the state.


The state in control of education could be a very dangerous thing, Mill argued.

The Great Educational Threat

Mill apparently could foresee all the dangers of enforced political education that we now encounter in the United States. Consider the push of radical leftists. They want state schools to teach the abominable critical race theory (CRT), even to young children. CRT says whites are “privileged” and evil. They must redeem themselves by confessing their “evils.” It is a kind of modern-day Jim Crow in reverse. Mill would have understood.

“A general state education is a mere contrivance for molding people to be exactly like one another,” Mill wrote in “On Liberty,” and “the mold in which it casts them is that which pleases the predominant power in government, whether this be a monarch, a priesthood, an aristocracy, or the majority of the existing generation; in proportion as it is efficient and successful, it establishes a despotism of the mind, leading by natural tendency to over the body.”

This is what has been going on in American public schools over generations. It has become worse over the last year.

But there are solutions.

What’s to Be Done

We now have an effectively operating libertarian education philosophy that should be expanded: Decentralization and the competition that comes with it. This is the same as contained in our original constitution. It is the division and sub-division of power as enumerated in the entire constitution. The tenth amendment is typical: It reserves power not explicitly given to the federal government to the states and the people. This divide and subdivide idea should be expanded in education.

The mistakes of the later few generations have been in conceding more power and money to the federal government. The rationale, of course, was the federal government would “give” more education dollars to the states.

But the trap was the aid came with more and more federal control; more CRTs and often insane educational theories that contained various crackpot anti-capitalism ideas. This educational centralization is what philosopher of liberty F.A. Hayek called “The Road to Serfdom.”

Much as I am attracted to Mill’s solution—destroy all state education and replace it with other things—we have this huge education bureaucracy backed by armies of poltroonish pols that is not going away soon. Here’s one proposal. And the principle should and can be applied to many other areas of government: Make it compete.

The short-term solution is not to let teachers’ unions and left-wing pols crush non-traditional public-school solutions that are working.

It Ain’t Broke. Por Favor, Leave It Alone!

In New York, for example, charter schools have done well. Every charter school is not great but many are. Collectively, children in these schools perform better than children in traditional public schools.

More importantly many parents, especially poor parents, who don’t consider their children the property of the state, want their kids to go to an alternative school.

These parents fear the failures and the propaganda of the local public school. But these logical prejudices don’t sit well with our ruling classes.

No wonder the teacher unions and their political allies try to destroy alternative schools in the private and public sectors. Indeed, instead of letting the marketplace rule, and the marketplace is just another word for consumer preferences, New York has imposed a cap on the number of charter schools.


It’s because their successful competition makes the traditional education model look bad. Instead of reforming the model, the powers that be look to crush the upstart school.

By the way, this thinking reminds me of the anti-trust writings of the economist Tom Sowell. He wrote many of the anti-trust lawsuits have been initiated not by consumers, but by businesses upset when new competitors came into a marketplace.

The new firms ate the old firms’ lunch. They began taking away business from the fat and happy old-line firms that wanted no change. The latter describes much of traditional state education bureaucracy today.

How else do I know alternate schools are succeeding?

Logic. Sometimes you know your friends by those who are your enemies.

Most traditional left-wing pols, including our disastrous New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, have been trying to destroy charter schools. The latter aren’t private schools, but alternate public schools in which parents, rather than teacher unions, have more say in how the schools are run.

Unions usually hate them and have told their political allies to kill them. Those draconian efforts have had mixed results. Most of our hired help in Manhattan and in Albany have put a cap on the number of charter schools.

It is illogical.

The Market Votes

If these schools are so popular, if any product or service is popular in the marketplace, why would anyone want to say the number of cars or any other product must have a cap on how many can be produced? Ridiculous, most would say. But that’s not the thinking of the scions of our New York Plunkitts, Manes and Tweeds.

Our ruling class, along with the teacher’s unions whose dollars often they find their way into their pockets, obviously believe that they know better than parents. They must, our rulers believe, be protected from themselves.

De veras?

Either these schools have been succeeding or lots of New York City parents have been duped. Indeed, there are waiting lists to get into these charter schools as the power of competition, the virtues of decentralization—the latter a characteristic that the great libertarian historian Lord Acton said was essential to liberty—once again are a boon to any society that embraces liberty and the choices of a free marketplace. Yet the market order is a demanding teacher that constantly pushes for better (Fabled football coach and teacher Vince Lombardi embodied this spirit. He once said, “If you pursue perfection, you just might catch excellence.”).

This kind of market discipline constantly enforces changes that reflect desires of consumers (Economist Ludwig von Mises, in his masterpiece tome, “Human Action,” said in a free market it is consumers, not producers, who are the kings. If you don’t listen to these kings, you, the seller, die).

And when we speak of choices, let us not forget the private schools. Here in Covid spooked New York City, where even vaccinated healthy people wear masks when they’re walking in the fresh air of the parks, public schools largely have stayed closed. It is a mystery.

They’re Open?

In large part it is because of the power of the teachers’ unions. Yet the Catholic schools, the Jewish schools and other religious schools have been open for months. They’re not scared. Could it be because they are run not on secular but on religious values? (Alexis de Tocqueville, in “Democracy in America,” said religious values are essential for the survival of freedom. Interestingly, Tocqueville privately entertained doubts about the existence of God yet he believed godly values were essential or society would deteriorate into anarchy).

There’s little doubt that these private schools are far more effective than the state schools that J.S. Mill warned would breed “tyranny.” I say little doubt because many of pols as well as union leaders send their kids to private schools.

A Question for Our Governing Class

Our ruling class has the resources to send their children to private schools, but what about the rest of us? What about that family with an average or somewhat below average income? Here is a family desperate to send their kids to a private school; one that has the values of a religious school. The previous sounds like a profile of my wonderful, blessed parents.

Growing up in Highbridge in the Southwest Bronx the late 1950s, my parents, both buenas Catholicas, sacrificed and sent us to Catholic schools. This is the same as many Hispanic parents living in my old neighborhood do today. Many are poor but they don’t want their kids going to public schools. They are no different than Alfred and Mary Bresiger.

So, what about the parents who think, quite rightly, that a public school system that teaches their kids critical race theory is tantamount to a mental poison that could ruin their children’s lives?

They should have a choice. This was one of the arguments of Milton Friedman’s book “Capitalism and Freedom” over 60 years ago. He argued each parent should be given a voucher so the parent could send his or her child to the school of choice. Obviously, there are constitutional issues over separation of church and state.

But a legal solution must be crafted. Friedman, a brilliant little giant, warned just before his death that the most important sector that must be privatized is education. As the disaster of CRT contaminates our schools, as tens of thousands of kids graduate school without skills and often with worthless diplomas, I realize that Friedman was right about that and about many other things, such as privatizing Social Security.

Friedman Retirement Savings Warning

Your kids not only could get a lousy education, they could live an impoverished old age.

Besides education, Friedman also believed that Social Security should be privatized because Social Security was such a bad “investment.” This is an issue we have previously discussed here in (Please see the link for more >> Critics Say Your Possible Biggest Tax is a Waste –

For those who think this it is too extreme a position, I respectfully disagree. I believe in voluntary privatization. I believe we should allow people to opt out of many government programs if they want or stay with the program if they wish. Too radical an idea? Consider what will happen to your children when they collect Social Security 40 or 50 years hence.

This Is Investment?

The projected returns of Social Security, according to a recent Heritage Foundation study, are somewhere between minus -0.2 percent and minus -14 percent.


Yes, those dismal numbers are sobering. What makes it ill-moral in my opinion is that one is forced to pay into Social Security from the day one starts working. Valgame Dios! It is a lifetime work sentence.
It even applies when you retire. Most people collect Social Security pay taxes on their Social Security payments.

This after they were forced to pay into this lousy system for decades. I’m still startled by that. I don’t know why there wasn’t a tax revolt in the 1980s when a Republican president and a Democratic Congress made a bi-partisan deal that ripped off tens of millions of Americans.

Do You Know This Man?

By the way, an all but forgotten American labor leader, Samuel Gompers, opposed the initial efforts to establish Social Security at the beginning of the 20th century. Gompers is generally shunned by the labor movement today because he was in many respects conservative and certainly believed in capitalism.

Gompers preferred unions to establish their own retirement programs. He feared that a government retirement program would arrogate money to other things. Given the woes of Social Security today, which are in part caused by the diversion of Social Security surpluses in the 1980s and 1990s, Gompers warnings were amazingly prescient.

I wrote a small history of Social Security for the Mises Institute some years ago. I read that, at the founding of Social Security system in 1935, the architects of the first Social Security legislation said the program must be “at least” as good as the best annuity product.

History has proven that this statement is insane. Social Security is just another example of government services, in comparison with the private services, that are clearly inferior.

Does anyone, with even the slightest investment knowledge, actually think that their Social Security “contributions” (sic) perform nearly as well as the money one might put into a Vanguard fixed or variable rate annuity over a 20 year or more period?

Let’s make this more general, since I know there are some who aren’t fans of Vanguard. Let’s go by a broad market index.

No Comparison

Compare the performance of Social Security to the long term returns of the stock market over about the last century. The market’s return is about 9.5 percent a year. Nine point five versus minus something. Which would you prefer? But, even if you disagree with me, shouldn’t the average person have the choice of how he or she wants retirement funds invested?

Just because I’m an old man and financially independent that doesn’t mean I don’t care about what happens when I’m dead. My parents cared about the next generation and so should the people of my generation. After all, unlike our president and vice president, we think our parents gave us a pretty good country.

Do you think your ninos will be getting a good deal on Social Security or on a host of other required state services that are frequently egregious?

That’s a rhetorical question.


Gregory Bresiger
Gregory Bresiger

Gregory Bresiger is an independent financial journalist from Queens, New York. His articles have appeared in publications such as Financial Planner Magazine and The New York Post.