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ARTICLE

Freedom of Opportunity

MAY 01, 1958 by DARRYL JOHNSON

Mr. Johnson teaches mathematics at Hialeah Senior High School in Florida. He described this article as "one of the three-minute lectures I generally give at the beginning of each math class."

One of the characteristics of our educational system in the past decade or so has been its preoccupation with the welfare of the "slow learner," or poorer stu­dent. This has resulted in "pass­ing" many who should have failed. We are now beginning to realize that the granting of such unearned benefits to the intellectually poor or the plain lazy has only com­pounded and perpetuated the difficulty.

Concentration on the poor stu­dent has been accomplished only by a corresponding neglect of the better student, and this neglect has been costly. The lesson to be learned is that excessive concentra­tion on the welfare of the intel­lectually poor has not only failed to help him but that such policies have had an effect of causing the intellectually rich to lose initiative in providing brain power for progress.

There is no way for schools to "give" an education. An education must be earned. Schools provide the opportunity for education, but that is all. If schools "guarantee" that you will pass, why learn? If God guaranteed heaven, why be virtuous? If government guaran­tees a living, why work? Of course, none of these things can be guar­anteed. The schools and the gov­ernment are incapable, and God is too wise. All that can reasonably be provided is opportunity.

 

The Same Holds for Government

These policies and the lessons to be learned from them have an important parallel in the field of government. Socialism, with its pretended concern with the wel­fare of the poor, "social equity," and the like, has the same results. Progressive taxation and other schemes supposedly designed in the interest of the poor do not actually aid the poor at all, but result in loss of initiative on the part of the better and more successful members of society, so that the total contribution to the mate­rial welfare of the whole is diminished.

The alleged humanitarian mo­tives of socialism constitute an argument which is beginning to wear rather thin. No amount of commendable reasons behind cer­tain actions can excuse the actions themselves, especially when such actions have proven destructive for century upon century. If we really want to help the poor have adequate housing, good medical service, and other advantages, let’s try something that works…which involves keeping the dead hand of government out of these things and making sure that pri­vate enterprise is not paralyzed by taxation.

The next time anyone says, "We ought to tax the corporations more and spare the people," let us re­mind him that you cannot tax a corporation as such, or a state, or anything else except people, and that his words really mean, "We ought to tax those who were frugal and saved and took the risk of in­vesting those savings so that a corporation could be formed, so that jobs could be created, and so that the things we all want and need could be produced." Viewed in this light, such policies appear to be what they actually are — a direct attack on the very main­springs of our welfare.

To promote true welfare, let’s do all we can to preserve the one characteristic that only freedom can provide — OPPORTUNITY.

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May 1958

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Around the world, people are struggling to throw off authoritarianism, with deeply mixed results. From Egypt to Venezuela, determined people build networks to overthrow their regimes, but as yet we have not learned to live without Leviathan. In this issue, Michael Malice and Gary Dudney discuss their glimpses inside totalitarian regimes, while Sarah Skwire and Michael Nolan look at how totalitarian regimes grind down the individual--and how individuals fight back. Plus, Jeffrey Tucker identifies a strain in libertarianism that, left unchecked, could reduce even our vibrant movement to something that is analogous to the grim aesthetic of architectural brutalism. The struggle for our lives and freedom is a struggle for beauty; it begins inside each of us.
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