Freeman

ARTICLE

There Must Be A Better Way

SEPTEMBER 01, 1963 by JESS RALEY

Mr. Raley is a free-lance author, speaker, philosopher from Gadsden, Alabama.

We are reminded every day, and often many times a day, that this nation must produce more edu­cated people or be buried, both militarily and economically, by communism. As a matter of fact, the pressure for more education is growing so strong in America, one may easily be led to assume that ignorance is very closely re­lated to treason, or at best a de­cided lack of patriotism.

I am certainly not anti-educa­tion but it seems to me that there must be a better way to inspire our youth to seek knowledge.

A young man whom I have known since he was twelve is a typical case. This boy had ex­pressed the desire to become a doctor and his father had encour­aged him. After one year of col­lege, however, the boy quit school and accepted a job in the mills of a large industry. The boy’s father was very disappointed and asked me to talk to his son about returning to school. I consented, since I felt that this lad could be an outstanding success in any field of endeavor.

After several preliminary thrusts, which the boy parried with admirable dexterity, I was forced to ask him outright why he had elected to become a mill worker.

"I have told Dad more than once, but I don’t really mind go­ing over it again," the boy said. "Of course, I could give you the old ‘blessed are the horny hands of toil’ and all that rot, but I won’t. You see, I really would like to be a doctor, but I got to fig­uring: Take the years required to qualify, plus the chance that I would not be successful; add the extra taxes involved if I did reach the high-income-bracket level, mix well with the fact that doctors will most likely be working for the government in a few years, and you should arrive at the same conclusion I did."

The boy seemed to be beyond reach, but his father would not concede defeat.

"I tell you, Dad, I have the most security anyone can have, outside of jail, right where I am," the boy said at last. "In three years I will be earning about seventy-five hundred a year. If I am off for lack of work, we have the guar­anteed annual wage. Should I get sick, we have insurance paid by the company. I cannot be forced to work any faster than I choose to work: the union won’t allow it. You just can’t beat a deal like that."

"Suppose the company goes out of business?" I asked, thinking I saw a weak place in the boy’s defense.

"No problem," he shot back. "In a case like that, the government will declare this a disaster area and feed us, retrain us, or both." Then as an afterthought, he added, "Boy, old Uncle Sugar really is a cube. If he wants peo­ple to go to school so bad, why does he keep working so hard to make the educated and the unedu­cated equal?"

In the face of such logic, I can only add that the voice of this nation’s plea for better education appears to be drowned by the greater sound of opposing action.

ASSOCIATED ISSUE

September 1963

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It's been 40 years since F. A. Hayek received his Nobel Prize. His insights, particularly on the distribution of knowledge and the impossibility of economic planning, remain hugely important today. In this issue, we look back on the influence of his work. Max Borders and Craig Biddle debate whether liberty must be defended from one absolute foundation, further reflections on Scottish secession, and how technology is already changing our world for the better--including how robots, despite the unease they cause, will only accelerate this process.
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