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There Must Be A Better Way

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.

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