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    • Tisantir

      “a forty question test to see whether you live in a healthy town”
      implies that there were already plenty of unhealthy towns in 1955.

      More seriously, the problem is an inability or the resistance of the conservatives to a social-type  thinking. They are like Familist

      • emer83

        Of course there were unhealthy towns  as there were 100, 1000, 5000, years ago. Human nature doesn’t change. It’s a liberal trope: stamp out ignorance, obesity, injustice. Why not ugliness, low intelligence, cruelty? Government has limited ability to mold a man and maybe that is good because the societies that try to control human behavior to the extreme have names: North Korea, China during the Cultural Revolution, the Soviet Union, Syria.

        Civilization is a sloppy struggle; the present education system is an expensive monopoly. We are not getting smarter kids for our enormous investment. Time to encourage competition.

        By the way, a terrific article by a true scholar.

      • JP

        Not as many as there are now. And if you consider K-12 education (usually the largest budget item of any town, city, or state) you must conclude that Americans today are quite insane. K-12 Education consumes hundreds of billions of dollars. Today, Americans spend more on K-12 Education than any G-20 nation. And what do we get for this extravagent expense?

        I, for one believe even the states can no longer manage public education. In most states, education and property taxes are collected and administrated from a state bureaucracy. Local cites, townships and counties no longer have control of their main form of revenue -property taxes, as well as their largest expense item- K-12 schools. To make matters worse, federal mandates such as the No Child Left Behind law create a level of bureaucratic control and cost that drive education even higher.

        For the sake of the fiscal health of our cities and counties I suggest we abolish public education in toto, and leave it up to the families and neighborhoods to educate their offspring. The results wouldn’t be much worse than what we have today.

        • givelifeachance2

          Hear, hear.  Many more people could homeschool than do.  If the mom was not well-served by her own public schooling, now’s the time to dig in and learn something along with, (or right ahead of) the kids.

        • Martial_Artist


          I am thoroughly unclear why you state

          Local cit(i)es, townships and counties no longer have control of their main form of revenue -property taxes, as well as their largest expense item- K-12 schools.

          If they do not have control, who would you assert does control property tax revenues?

          Pax et bonum,
          Keith Töpfer

        • watcher1954

          I agree on the cost control comment. Today you have many more “school boards” and education is a business. The leaders of these boards are now preffesionals and in the larger districts they make considerable salries and are layered away from accountability. Add to this the 2 working parent or single working parent situation where responsibilty for raising the child is left to the school and ultimately to complaints when the child has been disciplined and you get a structure that is more politcal in nature and the interest of the child suffers.

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    • Martial_Artist

      I think there is a better (doubtless not perfect) solution to the present morass. The problem, in my opinion, is not as much the public funding of education as it is the public operation of the schools. Herein follows the rough outline of a proposal that observes the Rule of Law (i.e., treats every student equally before the law insofar as public funds are concerned), yet provides at least some market pressure to improve the return on investment of those public funds:

      • Allow any school to be formed and offer its services to the public that can demonstrate they meet a published standard of educating children (i.e., is accredited by a truly impartial accrediting agency).

      • The parents of each child will be given a voucher, redeemable at any accredited school of the parents choosing, public, private, parochial. The value of the voucher will be equal to the cost for a child of the same age/school year to be educated in the public schools.

      • Any parents who wants to send their child(ren) to a more expensive private or parochial school will have to pay the difference between total tuition and the value of the voucher.

      • At the end of each academic year, the children will be tested using a standardized test, and renewal of accreditation hinges on the aggregate performance of all the children in a particular school/grade.

      It may not be perfect, but I think it reasonable to start from the assumption that, as a general rule, the parents are most likely to hold the interests of their children’s education at a higher level than anyone else. And I seriously doubt that it could possibly work out worse than the present system of government-operated, union-dominated schools that are characteristic of many of our larger cities.

      Pax et bonum,
      Keith Töpfer

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    • swoltze

      I have only experienced two real societies in my life–that is, where the inhabitants shared the same substantial worldview and a high degree of solidarity.  Firstly, in a small town of dairy farmers where the parish priest joined the SSPX after then-bishop Levada ignored his pleas about a cadre of homosexual priests (weren’t the 80s great?) as well as heretical teachings and practices.  That was my grandparents’ community, and it was a refuge from my abusive home life.  Then when I went to maximum security prison for robbing banks at the age of eighteen, I “earned” my way into the ruling society of “solid cons”, and enjoyed real friendship and recovered a strong moral sense (yes, there is honor among thieves–at least when they are locked up for a long time!).

      I’ve been out of prison eighteen years now, and the closest friends I’ve had in my life were some of the murderers, robbers, drug dealers and confidence men I was locked up with.  Deep friendships depend upon trust, and there is no trust where there is not a shared worldview that involves a deep commitment to selflessness.  That’s why you meet so many Vietnam vets who cherish the most hellish time of their life–a time when they had real friends.  Our fragmented country has lost so much…

    • Alecto

      This loss of society, or Unsociety to which Mr. Esolen refers, is a direct consequence of loss of morality.  The attractive solution would be to instigate “programs” to construct false community.  The much more difficult and honest solution is to rediscover and strengthen the moral component of every individual.   However, in order to do that we must allow suffering, consequences and we’re clearly not up for that! 

      How can we do that when we live in a country led by those who are increasingly hostile to any moral code, hellbent on avoiding or mitigating the painful consequences of immorality to the point that they embrace and codify immorality?  A country where an honest prayer is banned in the public square, the public school and I would assume eventually anywhere? 

      We no longer live in a country rule by law, nor by men, but by mewling clodpoles.  We’ll have to formulate our own society without regard to anything outside of it. 

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