In the LearnLiberty video above, our own Steve Horwitz debates Jeffrey Reiman about the need for government interference to help children whose parents have made choices that leave their children at a disadvantage. This is actually part of a larger discussion I’ve yet to watch (see it here), but I thought I’d comment on the part on the short LearnLiberty video. I encourage you to watch at least the short video. Its less then 4 minutes long. The longer discussion is about inequality more broadly and sure to be as interesting!

In the beginning of the video, Reiman asks an important question: what do we do about children whose parents make bad economic decisions? I think Steve’s response is only part of a full response. To start, Steve asks what we should do with children whose parents make good decisions as if this question demands a response if we are to respond to Reiman’s.* Steve’s question is not, though, as concerning as Reiman’s. If what we are concerned with is suffering (because of poverty, for example), Reiman’s question is serious because children whose parents make bad economic decisions can suffer; Steve’s question won’t even arise if that is the concern. Steve’s question will have a pull on us if we are concerned to have equal opportunity—not just opportunities for all, but equal opportunities for all. If we want that, we should be bothered by the fact that children whose parents are economically successful will have more opportunities. Now, I tend to favor equal opportunity, but it seems that many self-styled libertarians do not.

Some readers might think that last claim is wrong, insisting that we all want equal opportunity. But many people that comment on the blog (I am not referring to my co-bloggers) seem far too concerned to leave even ultra-rich people with all of their riches for that to be the case. Its not possible, I think, to leave those people with all of their riches and simultaneously have genuinely equal opportunity. Children of the ultra-rich simply do have more opportunities than the rest of us. Now that might be as it should be (I don’t think it is), but if you think that, you should recognize you do not actually favor equal opportunity—certainly not as Reiman does.

To return to the main question: what do we do when parents make bad economic decisions? Reiman and Steve seem to agree that whether the system that best responds to such situations involves government (and, if so, how and to what extent) is an empirical question. This seems right. Of course, what the empirical evidence suggests is contested.

Reiman thinks that the idea that we can do without government in things like education is “highly speculative.” There is something right and something wrong about this. It is speculative to the extent that we can’t know with certainty that non-governmental institutions can provide education in our society as well or better than governmental institutions until we try it. But, as Steve points out, it is not like we are completely without evidence—there are examples of private education all over the world. Moreover, Reiman’s worry deserves a familiar response: pretend that the government always produced and distributed shoes; in that environment, the suggestion that private enterprise should produce and distribute shoes would be met with exactly the sorts of reactions most people have today to the idea that private enterprise should produce and distribute education—indeed, in that environment, the idea that private enterprise could produce and distribute shoes would be speculative. But that is hardly reason to think that it shouldn’t be tried. Similarly, its not reason to think it shouldn’t be tried in our environment with education. (I am not saying we should immediately end all government involvement in education. I would suggest we begin a change by recognizing the difference between government funding education and government providing education. Perhaps we first switch to ending the latter and keeping the former with vouchers as Steve mentions.)

A final note. None of this touches another, seemingly parallel, question: What do we do when parents make devastatingly bad decisions that are not about resources? Parents that decide its OK to abuse their children, for example. There may be parallel arguments to be made about this question as well, but I end here with that thought.

*Note: Steve also sort of asserts that parents are in the best position to judge what is best for their children, but while this is questionable, its also irrelevant to the discussion; I would guess that if the debate were scripted, Steve would not have said it.

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  • Emanuele

    It’s not that parents know what is best for their children, but that we do not know who knows best. As a rule of thumb I’d say that those who have a genetic and affective relationship with them may be in a better position than me, you and anybody else

  • Jameson Graber

    “Its not possible, I think, to leave those people with all of their riches and simultaneously have genuinely equal opportunity. Children of the ultra-rich simply do have more opportunities than the rest of us. Now that might be as it should be (I don’t think it is), but if you think that, you should recognize you do not actually favor equal opportunity—certainly not as Reiman does.”

    This is extremely problematic. If you want, I’ll bite the bullet and just say: no, in your sense, I don’t believe we should try for “equal opportunity.” But I think that’s because your sense, or the one you’ve outlined in this paragraph, is hardly even a slippery slope–you’ve really got to plunge all the way down to get to “equal” opportunity. What percentage of wealth would you have to take away from people in order to make the “ultra rich” no longer have more–far more–opportunities than the rest of us? If you took away 90% of Bill Gates’s wealth, he would still be ridiculously rich, far more rich than I’ll (probably) ever be. Proportionally, the only way to ensure his kids and mine have the same shot at life is to take away basically everything he has, or at least force him not to give it to his kids. Either way, talk about an enormous infringement on property rights.

    • martinbrock

      “Taking away” Bill Gates’ wealth is problematic, since Gates’ doesn’t literally possess this wealth. He is rather entitled to make all sorts of decisions about the disposition of various resources, from planting the grounds of his mansion to directing officers of the Microsoft corporation, governing various corporate resources, by voting shares of Microsoft stock on Microsoft’s board. That Gates may choose a successor to his entitlement to direct officers of the Microsoft corporation is no more fundamentally proper than Elizabeth’s right to choose an heir to her throne.

      • Jameson Graber

        “He is rather entitled to make all sorts of decisions about the disposition of various resources”
        In what way is this not “literally” possessing wealth? Isn’t that all ownership is?

        • martinbrock

          I literally possess my arms and legs, and I literally possess the car keys in my pocket, and I literally possess the car when I’m behind the wheel, but I don’t literally possess a computer on some programmer’s desk in a Microsoft office half a continent away, even if I own some shares of the corporation, even if I own all shares of the corporation. This distinction between “literal possession” and “proprietorship” seems meaningful to me..

          • Jameson Graber

            I am aware of the issue you’re raising, but I think it’s much different than the one at hand. This was what made those posts by Vallier about Rousseau’s challenge to property rights such a firestorm: property really isn’t so obvious when you really think about it. For instance, you seem to be saying that the further detached something gets from you, physically, the less you really have a claim over it. OK. But then most modern wealth really goes down the drain, doesn’t it? Maybe that’s okay…maybe we’re leftist radicals after all. I’m honestly not sure.

            But there are kind of mundane examples to make me a little suspicious. I mean, by your reasoning, can there really be such a thing as owning a business? Most of its components are being run most of the time by someone else. How can all of that belong to you? Or to anyone?

          • martinbrock

            We can debate most modern wealth without violating my libertarian principles, but debating it doesn’t send it down a drain.

            What an individual may own and the rights associated with individual ownership are community standards (terms of free association) in my way of thinking. I don’t want a state establishing these standards. I want people free to choose among diverse communities offering a practically unlimited variety of standards.

            In this liberal archipelago of communities, I expect the most productive communities to permit much individual autonomy over the governance of resources, but I don’t want communities compelled to be most productive. Bill Gates might govern many resources in such a community, and across many communities, with the consent of all community members, but this decision should belong to members of these communities, not to me or to any other power on Earth.

          • adrianratnapala

            I don’t get this. If there is law, and if there is property, then there will be property law. This is because property will be a cause of many pretty sharp disputes. Now an anarcho-libertarian might say that law doesn’t require the state. But can you stop short of anarchism, while thinking the state doesn’t govern the property law?

            Note in history, property law is still often bottom-up, either judge-made, or perhaps with legislatures “blessing” the laws of barbarian ancestors. Perhaps this is what martinbrock is talking about.

          • martinbrock

            We may call community standards “laws”, but they are not statutory laws in my way of thinking. They are terms of free association, the terms of a multilateral contract that all parties freely and explicitly accept.

            I’m not an anarchist, strictly speaking. My libertopia is a minarchy. A state protects an individual right of free association. An individual may join any community that will have himand may also leave a community at will, taking from the community only what the community permits a departing member to take. The state does not constrain community standards otherwise.

            This right to free association implies a statutory right to life, i.e. a community may not enact a standard permitting a community member to kill another member, since this standard violates a member’s right to leave the community at will.

            A community may enact practically all Rothbardian standards for example, but Rothbardians may not impose their standards on people preferring other standards.

          • good_in_theory

            “I mean, by your reasoning, can there really be such a thing as owning a business? Most of its components are being run most of the time by someone else.”

            Well, that’s (one of) the claim(s) behind, say, the CT-BHL debate over coercion in the workplace. Working somewhere ought to confer a certain level of participatory rights over how one works (cf. Pateman, Participation and Democratic Theory). This naturally impedes on the “ownership” of the other stakeholders, who may or may not also work within the business. But might be conducive to the autonomy and freedom of workers.

          • Jameson Graber

            Yeah, those are concerns which I understand. But what was mainly at issue in this post is the sheer amount of wealth someone can have at their disposal and spend on their children. So whatever restrictions one might have on coercion in the workplace, where the rubber really meets the road is whether we accord the right to a business owner to collect the profits from his business or not.

          • russnelson

            Wow, this argument turned to nonsense quickly. That’s good. We can ignore it from here on.

          • martinbrock

            You aren’t us, and you don’t ignore the argument here, and you don’t address it either. You rather dismiss the argument without addressing it, because it violates some fundamental, ideological assumption of yours that you don’t wish to debate.

          • Ted_Levy

            So you’re seriously arguing, Martin, that Bill Gates doesn’t LITERALLY possess his great wealth, but IF he “cashed out” and got all $40+ billion in small bills he could cart around, THEN he would LITERALLY possess his great wealth? That’s a fairly novel, but at first glance completely unhelpful distinction. Are you seriously suggesting a libertarian concept of ownership/possession is in part of function of how many pockets one has?

          • martinbrock

            If Gates could carry $40 billion worth of gold on his person, then yes, I’d say that he literally possesses this wealth. If he carries banknotes promising gold rather than gold itself, I would not say that he literally possesses the gold.

            I would also say that a thief carrying my wallet after mugging me literally possesses my wallet, though the wallet remains my property.

            We’re discussing semantics here, not inviolable laws of nature. If the distinction does not help you, you’re free to ignore it.

          • Ted_Levy

            Oh! We’re talking SEMANTICS here!! My mistake. I thought you were attempting to develop a substantive distinction between libertarians and propertarians that justified for one group what would be recognized as a rights violation for the other group. But now I see you just were discussing how words should be used. Sure. Do carry on.

          • martinbrock

            I am making a substantive distinction between libertarians and proprietarians. A libertarian, in my way of thinking, does not compel people to respect particular property rights. Property rights are community standards, and respecting particular property rights is voluntary insofar as membership in a community is voluntary.

            Someone, like a Lockean or a Rothbardian, asserting that particular, individual property rights (like a first user’s right in perpetuity to exclusive use of a parcel of land) are inviolable is not making a libertarian argument. He’s making a proprietarian argument. This person advocates a particular community governed by particular standards, and that’s fine with me, but he doesn’t advocate liberty per se.

            I want particular property rights, but I don’t want to force you to respect these rights, because I want you to be free of me. I want to associate with people who freely respect the rights that I want respected, so if you and I can’t agree on standards of propriety, we should not share a community.

          • Ted_Levy

            So, to be clear, you seem to think libertarians, “in [your] way of thinking,” are defenders of bodily integrity. If I take all my wealth, convert it to gold, and implant it surgically in my body, or physically hold it VERY TIGHTLY in my fist such that force must be initiated to wrest it from me, it is mine.

            But should I instead merely leave it on my desk and forget to lock my doors, and you steal in and out of my house, that is NOT a violation, necessarily, of my property, since it depends on a particular definition of property right rather than the observation that force has been used. Is this a correct understanding of your (“in my way of thinking” absurd) position?

          • good_in_theory

            His position isn’t absurd at all. Your confusion is pretty absurd though.

            Respect for property requires respect for conventions and beliefs. Respect for possession requires respect for bodily integrity. It’s a pretty obvious difference.

          • martinbrock

            No. That gold is your property has nothing to do with its proximity to your person or the force with which you personally hold it. Above, I’m not identifying “possession” with “property”. I’m distinguishing the two.

            I never say anything about what is or is not a violation of your property rights, and I don’t want to say anything about it. I want you to decide the standards of propriety that you respect.

            No. Your caricature has nothing to do with my way of thinking.

          • good_in_theory

            The distinction between possession and proprietorship/ownership is not at all novel.

  • martinbrock

    That parents are in the best position to protect their children’s interests does not imply that parents will protect their children’s interests, and imagining an omnipresent government protecting these interests better does not imply any omnipresent government either.

  • http://www.stationarywaves.com/ Ryan Long

    This whole line of reasoning is problematic. Conscientiousness as a human right for all children? Really? Good parents as a human right? Can we not see plainly and clearly that the only way to provide equality of parenting is to take all children away from their parents and put them in state-run institutions?

    The issue is not that non-intervention produces an ideal outcome. We can see that it obviously does not. The issue is that the interventionist position produces an inferior outcome by virtue of its being thoroughly unworkable in the real world. All one needs to see that clearly is to follow the chain of logic to a specific policy recommendation.

    • martinbrock

      How does putting children in state-run institutions provide equality of anything?

      • http://www.stationarywaves.com/ Ryan Long

        Exactly my point.

  • David Sobel

    I was hoping you might point me to good defenses and discussions of the claim that equality of opportunity is morally recommended. I am attracted to this ideal but I wonder why it is not subject to leveling down objections. Would the ideal be that people born with equal talents and willingness to work hard have equal opportunity for welfare, for example? Wouldn’t some people just having a sunny nature require Harrison Bergeron type adjustments? Broadly: I am interested in this topic but have not read much. Could you fill out the picture a bit, explaining what equality of opportunity comes to in your view, and recommend readings, including your own.

  • russnelson

    ” but while this is questionable,” If one is to be a scientist, EVERYTHING is questionable. If you want to present evidence that something is false, then do it. If you want to offer a SWAG, say that you are doing so. If you want to say that something feels wrong, but you have no evidence it is wrong, say so. But “this is questionable” is just plain bullshit.

  • Ted_Levy

    “I tend to favor equal opportunity, but it seems that many self-styled libertarians do not…Children of the ultra-rich simply do have more opportunities than the rest of us. Now that might be as it should be (I don’t think it is), but if you think that, you should recognize you do not actually favor equal opportunity”

    Similarly, children of the ultra intelligent simply do have more opportunities. Also children of the ultra attractive. But there’s no need to complicate the argument with children. On Andrew’s thesis, the rich, the intelligent, the attractive, the better networked, the more virtuous, etc. “simply do have more opportunities” than the rest of society. And if you accept this damning situation, “you should recognize you do not actually favor equal opportunity.” And if this sounds bizarre to you, this Harrison Bergeron world required for equal opportunity, why you’re simply a “self-styled libertarian” not a true heir to Locke, Spooner, and Nozick at all…

    • Les Kyle Nearhood

      Your’s is the best response so far.

    • The Man Whose Head Expanded

      I might defer to the maxim that ought implies can.
      We might not, without creating all sort of horror, be able to do anything to rectify the inequality of opportunity that arises from variance in physical attractiveness or whatever intelligence is heritable. Attempts at reducing the inequality of opportunity that occur due from these traits may contradict our goal of creating a more just society. This claim strikes me as very plausible, although some subtle and benign societal changes might occur to reduce the penalty to opportunity that those who are less conventionally attractive face.

      So one can coherently claim that we ought to minimize, reduce, or eliminate the effects of material inequality on opportunity (assuming that this can be accomplished without subverting the goal of creating a more just society) without committing to the claim that we ought to eliminate ALL forms of inequality of opportunity. This weaker claim appears to me to be compatible with what Andrew is saying.

      • Ted_Levy

        The problem, large-headed one, is not showing Cohen’s view is coherent. It is showing that it is reasonably viewed as libertarian.

        The idea that, sadly, there are some forms of inequality of opportunity that are so intrinsic to personhood that the central committee cannot correct them without endangering its devotion to “a more just society,” and should thus, as a matter of humility, restrict itself to forcibly correcting only those inequalities of opportunity that it deems compatible with a “more just society” is not typically what any reasonable person would call a libertarian perspective.

        • The Man Whose Head Expanded

          I’m not a libertarian, so I have no real interest in debating who is and is not a libertarian or a true scotsman, but I don’t recall mentioning anything about central committees. That strikes me as a rather uncharitable (not to mention inaccurate) interpretation of what I was saying.

          Placing scare quotes around the concept of “justice” leaves me baffled as well. I’m sure you must hold a vision of what a just society is– presumably one with a strong emphasis placed on individual liberty.

          • Ted_Levy

            Dear Acromegalic Fellow, You seem to miss the point. This website is not titled “Bleeding Heart Academics Who Kinda Occasionally Take What Might Be Perceived As A Libertarian Position.” So while YOU may not be a libertarian, it IS perfectly appropriate for me to point out that an argument made and posted on this website is not credibly seen as libertarian.

          • The Man Whose Head Expanded

            First you invent some straw-manned version of my first post in which you imply that I’m favoring some sort of authoritarian approach to rectifying the inequality of opportunity (I do not), and now you invent the idea that I said it was somehow inappropriate for you to discuss what constitutes a libertarian view (I did not).

            I do not find your methods of discussion to be helpful or pleasant.

  • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

    Andrew,
    When you say “Now, I tend to favor equal opportunity, but it seems that many self-styled libertarians do not,” you are correct, but only because you are using “equal opportunity” in two fundamentally different ways. When libertarians claim to favor “equal opportunity” they implicitly insert “subject to due respect for the rights of all members of the community.” So, I favor an “equal opportunity” to live in Beverly Hills, in that everyone should have an chance to succeed financially so as to be able to afford it. I don’t mean that we should massively redistribute wealth so that everyone has exactly the same amount, in which case there would be no “Beverly Hills” in the way there is now because nobody would have the resources to build and maintain such homes. You seem in your piece to be using “equal opportunity” to mean that every child should literally have the same schooling, tutoring, enriching home environment, etc. Yeah, I reject that.

    • David Sobel

      But can it really be no moral problem at all if a great many
      people have no serious prospect of escaping poverty, or wildly unequal
      prospects of doing so, so long as they are no legal barriers from escaping
      poverty and no legal barriers from living in Beverly Hills? Isn’t Locke’s “as
      much and as good” idea, which seemed to appeal to Nozick as well (despite his criticisms of it) partly the thought that it is unfair if some take all and leave others with no similar opportunity. This goes beyond the idea that the state must not make it illegal for anyone to own property or enrich themselves. And I don’t think we have on the table enough about what equal opportunity comes to yet to conclude that it requires identical schooling, etc.

      • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

        The point you have just made is I believe on a different subject than my comment to Andrew, which basically was that he wasn’t clear enough on the different uses he made of “equal opportunity.” And, I don’t disagree with you that there might well be a real moral problem “if a great many people have no serious prospect of escaping poverty…” For Nozick (and for me) a great deal will ride on why these people are impoverished. If it were true that the enforcement of stringent property rights is responsible for this state of affairs, I believe he would relax these rights to the extent needed to restore to them a fair opportunity to succeed. This was certainly the implication of the “historical shadow” that he posited as a condition of just Lockean appropriation.

        • David Sobel

          Good, so I think we are agreed that merely having access to property and power not legally barred to all can be morally insufficient in some cases to provide the kind of equality of opportunity we both favor. And I take us further to agree that how morally bad inequality of opportunity is depends on why there is such inequality of opportunity. For example, inequality due to unequal native talents, if that counts as the sort of inequality Andrew has in mind, looks less objectionable than inequality due to being born to poor parents. And finally, I think we both agree that we would like to hear more about the kind of equality of opportunity Andrew has in mind.

          • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

            Yes. Where I am sure we disagree is how to apply these very general precepts to the real world.

          • David Sobel

            I am just enjoying a peaceful moment of agreement, even if at a rather abstract level.

          • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

            Glad to be of service!

  • Damien S.

    “seem far too concerned to leave even ultra-rich people with all of their riches”

    Many libertarians object to being characterized as right-wing, and think of themselves as above the left-right spectrum. (“Left-wing? Right-wing? *Parakeet*-wing!”) But, looking at the roots of the terms in the French Revolution, the left is for equality, the right for inherited power and privilege. At the time, classical liberalism/modern libertarianism *was* left. But now that we don’t have functional monarchs or nobility, it’s right, as concerns has moved further leftward. Libertarians rarely talk about inherited power and privilege the way old conservatives did… but a key ‘liberty’ they defend is to accumulate as much as one can, and to hand it over untouched to one’s children. The rhetoric is freedom, but the effect is to defend inherited inequality, and against all the government programs that would even it out. Voila, right-wing.

    • http://philosopherstoner.blogspot.com/ Nick Flamel

      I hear that a lot, that many propertarian libertarians say that they don’t fit within the left-right paradigm. What some of them don’t realize is that there is such a thing as left-libertarianism and libertarian socialism, two left-wing libertarian positions that they would most likely oppose. They probably don’t like to be associated with religious conservatives so they object to the label ‘right-wing’, even though it fits.

    • Kevin Parker

      By “accumulate as much as one can,” perhaps you mean “create as much as one can.”

  • StephenMeansMe

    I think even if you were concerned with suffering (again e.g. because of poverty) you might worry about the children of the ultra-rich too, because they inherit a huge pot of wealth and then have more opportunities—in particular, to accumulate more of it, and very probably at a faster rate than they can put it back into the economy through (e.g.) spending. So you’d see a gradual stratification as the nation’s wealth is sucked into the ultra-rich clade, which would naturally result in more people in poverty. So I guess I’m arguing that the connection between suffering and unequal opportunities is, if not a true equivalence, at least sort of strong.

    • Les Kyle Nearhood

      Except that that is not something which we observe actually happening. In most cases inherited wealth dissipates to some degree and the new Ultra wealthy are not the ultra wealthy of 20 years ago.
      .
      Having said that, I am mostly alone among libertarians I know in being in not having a problem with estate taxes. (provided there was a pretty big exemption to protect small family businesses and farms). My thinking is that as the state must have some money, it is less destructive to tax the dead than the living. While a Billionaire is alive, He or she is making decisions with their money. Once dead some is passed on to heirs but in many cases the bulk of it goes into trust funds which usually make “safe” investments in Treasury bonds or municipals. The money is no longer dynamic.

      • StephenMeansMe

        I think that if the economy afforded great social mobility, we’d see a demographic equalization over time (so, e.g., the top 1% would have roughly the same demographics as the bottom 99%, the only major difference being their wealth, obviously). But we don’t. That suggests some sort of bias somewhere in the system.

        That said, I don’t know much about the micro details of wealth transfer, just the broad demographic stuff vis-a-vis wealth accumulation. Then again I wasn’t saying that certain *individuals* would get more and more wealthy at the expense of the rest, but that the *group* which holds the vast majority of the wealth would shrink in size over time. Individuals may rise into and fall out of that group, but the concentration *in itself* is worrisome.

    • Kevin Parker

      Spending, of course, is not the only way, nor necessarily the best way to put wealth back into the economy (if that makes sense). By saving/investing, people defer consumption and free up resources for others to utilize, do they not? When I read about accumulating wealth, I think of a sea anemone capturing fauna that venture too close or a wren capturing prey and delivering it to its nestlings. But rich kids getting richer presumably involves, at least to some degree, either providing some sort of valued service or investing (by deferring consumption)–itself a service. In other words, unless it is accomplished largely through theft or corruption (or state favors), it is not a unidirectional affair (sucking wealth), but exchange (value for value).

  • http://philosopherstoner.blogspot.com/ Nick Flamel

    I worry about ignorant parents indoctrinating their children into their unjustified religious beliefs at such a young age that it becomes extremely difficult for the children to leave these religious beliefs behind when they grow up, because they’re so deeply ingrained. I see this as similar to giving young children an addictive drug when they’re too young to consent to using it, and then by the time they grow up, they’re too addicted to stop using it. Parents and pastors always talk as if their religious beliefs as far more certain than they are, and they are notoriously uncharitable to any opposing views. In fact, I wouldn’t have a problem with philosophy of religion professors teaching religion to kids, because I’m sure they would be charitable (excluding WLC). But pastors and parents aren’t going to tell kids the weaknesses in their views.

    I’m not saying government education is necessarily the right solution. The internet seems to be a pretty useful tool for deconversion (or conversion too I guess).

    • Libertymike

      Do you worry about ignorant public school teachers, public school administrators, public school psychologists, public school guidance counselors and public school teachers’ unions indoctrinating the children of parents into their unjustified worship of the state?
      Do you worry about ignorant public school teachers forcing children to pledge allegiance to a state?
      Do you worry about ignorant public school teachers failing to teach their students that the United States, like all nation states, is founded upon the collectivist premise that the lives and ambitions, associations, creations, expressions and property interests of individuals are subject to the principle of eminent domain, i.e., that the state has a rightful dominion over EVERYTHING within its boundaries of coercive power?

      • http://philosopherstoner.blogspot.com/ Nick Flamel

        “Do you worry about ignorant public school teachers, public school administrators, public school psychologists, public school guidance counselors and public school teachers’ unions indoctrinating the children of parents into their unjustified worship of the state?”

        I definitely worry about anyone teaching false and harmful things. If they were teaching them to worship the state, then yes, I would worry about it. I’m not sure what you mean by ‘worship’. I thought I got a fairly good education in a public school. I didn’t see any indoctrination in math, science, english, spanish language, or any other classes. The closest to politics we got was history, but there was no state worship in that class. You’re delusional, like Alex Jones and Glenn Beck.

        “Do you worry about ignorant public school teachers forcing children to pledge allegiance to a state?”

        Sure, I think pledges are lame in general, and if it causes blind obedience to anything then I’m against it. I was never forced.

        “Do you worry about ignorant public school teachers failing to teach their students that the United States, like all nation states, is founded upon the collectivist premise that the lives and ambitions, associations, creations, expressions and property interests of individuals are subject to the principle of eminent domain, i.e., that the state has a rightful dominion over EVERYTHING within its boundaries of coercive power?”

        I’m not sure what you mean. I remember learning about checks and balances, about civil rights violations, wars, etc. Anything that doesn’t teach that the state is downright evil is indoctrination to you. You, libertymike, make it hard to take libertarianism seriously. Good thing there are bleeding heart libertarians here to make me take it seriously.

        • Les Kyle Nearhood

          I have certainly seen the public schools teaching trendy junk science. Including an absolute hard indoctrination into a rather radical environmentalism.

          • http://philosopherstoner.blogspot.com/ Nick Flamel

            I’m against it if it is in fact junk science, but if you are talking about anthropogenic climate change and calling that ‘junk science’, then I side with the consensus among the experts.

            And if your “absolute hard indoctrination into a rather radical environmentalism” means teaching that anthropogenic climate change is real and we should take the necessary means to combat it, then again, I side with the consensus among the experts if there is one.

        • Libertymike

          If you think that I am like Alex Jones or Glenn Bleck, who is choosing to be delusional?

          • http://philosopherstoner.blogspot.com/ Nick Flamel

            None of us. I don’t think delusion is a choice. There is probably a good causal explanation as to why you, Jones, and Beck think like you do, though I don’t know what it is.

    • martinbrock

      I worry about you distinguishing justified beliefs from unjustified beliefs.

      • http://philosopherstoner.blogspot.com/ Nick Flamel

        I worry about you being worried about me distinguishing justified beliefs from unjustified ones. Some beliefs are obviously unjustified, asserted, unchallenged, and treated as certain.

  • Michael Philip

    The notion of equality of opportunity needs to be replaced with the notion of freedom of opportunity – the freedom to pursue all of the opportunities open to one (opportunities necessarily restricted by one’s own unique set of mostly immutable circumstances).

  • TracyW

    Actually once you control for genetics, in a developed country the children of rich don’t appear to have better opportunities. See for example http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2004/11/nature_nurture_.html

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