A Spontaneous Order, Politics/Economics

A Spontaneous Order: Free Market Education

Consider purchasing a copy of A Spontaneous Order: The Capitalist Case For A Stateless Society

Education is, without a doubt, an essential component of life. In fact, by the mere act of living consciously, one cannot help but observe the nature and behavior of the world and its inhabitants. Every day is filled with experiences which may either affirm one’s currently held beliefs or reveal something new and previously unobserved, causing his beliefs to be altered accordingly. Life involves the process of refining one’s understanding of himself, others, and the environment surrounding his existence until he is no longer. Hence, education is held in high regard and rightly so. However, the value of education by society in general has, as many other noble concepts, been manipulated into justifying a strict regulation of the minds of the youth.

Language, arithmetic, and basic literacy are indispensable building blocks for future learning. Many have cited the importance of such skills when advocating public schooling, compulsory attendance, and the regulation of curriculum taught in both the public and private spheres. Tragically, such mandates and regulations impede the flowering and proliferation of these essential skills as well as innumerable other avenues of knowledge relative to the education and growth of children in free societies. Competition and economic calculation inherent in free markets incentivizes and enables entrepreneurs to provide many methods of teaching tailored to an individual’s mental acuity and personal interests. As with knowledge itself, such teaching methods will never be perfected, but they will be most efficiently and perpetually refined under a paradigm of freedom from State coercion.

It is indeed because proper education is so integral that we cannot afford to allow it to be regulated, restricted, and usurped by State functionaries. The use of aggression to ensure the provision of any product or service precipitates and manifests the very fears for which its use was originally demanded.  The only tool wielded by the State to which market participants are not privy is that of aggression. Markets are defined by their absence of systemic aggression, because it may only be used to destroy, diminish, and pervert. Aggression does not satisfy the inherent demands of existence, i.e., the demand for acquiring food, shelter, water, education, love, etc. On the contrary, it exacerbates such needs and creates a zero-sum game between the members of society, where one may only gain at the direct expense of others. Aggression thus promotes chaos, not cooperation. Only when individuals choose to deal with each other voluntarily and respect private property rights may their dealings result in mutual benefit and a net increase in their wealth. Ludwig von Mises describes the economic purpose of cooperation:

The fundamental social phenomenon is the division of labor and its counterpart human cooperation. Experience teaches man that cooperative action is more efficient and productive than isolated action of self-sufficient individuals.[1]

Only this paradigm of voluntary cooperation and peace may truly mitigate the risks we encounter as organic beings which require certain resources to survive, multiply, and thrive. Finally, through the promotion of diversity and specialization of tasks inherent in the division of labor, we may be able to optimally enhance our wealth in the material, mental, and psychological realms. Peaceful markets are the key to promoting such ends. Rothbard explains the role of variety in creating a flourishing society:

But human individuals, despite similarities in ends and values, despite mutual influences, tend to express the unique imprint of the individual’s own personality. The development of individual variety tends to be both the cause and the effect of the progress of civilization. As civilization progresses, there is more opportunity for the development of a person’s reasoning and tastes in a growing variety of fields. And from such opportunities come the advancement of knowledge and progress which in turn add to the society’s civilization. Furthermore, it is the variety of individual interests and talents that permits the growth of specialization and division of labor, on which civilized economies depend.[2]

Positive Rights vs. Negative Rights

Many people believe everyone has a right to education; others contend that we have rights against such impositions. For the purpose of disentangling this philosophical mess, a review of positive and negative rights is in order. Positive rights essentially entail that one is entitled to a certain product, service, or environmental arrangement, i.e., that some other person must perform some activity in order to fulfill such rights. Conversely, negative rights refer to rights which an individual holds that entitle him to be free from certain actions. Put differently, negative rights entail that individuals may not justifiably engage in certain activities against others. In other words, positive rights require others to commit certain acts whereas negative rights require them to refrain from particular behavior. Examples of positive rights may include a right to healthcare, education, or food; a prime example of a negative right is the right to free speech.

Philosophical libertarians believe that positive rights are morally illegitimate as they require others to commit or perform certain actions regardless of their consent. Having a right entails that its violation implies the use of violence would be justified in attaining a remedy or restitution. Thus, positive rights entail that one may use violence against another if he does not receive a particular product or service to which he is supposedly entitled. The only rights people have, according to anarcho-capitalists (libertarians), are property rights. The Non-Aggression Principle itself is simply a derivative of one’s ownership of his own body and property. Owning something, after all, entails the exclusive right to employ said something so long as such employment does not entail aggressive interference with the persons or property of others.

Anarcho-capitalists thus believe that to enforce any positive right is to necessarily violate the negative rights of others. Those who espouse positive rights, such as a right to education, believe if one is not receiving the education to which he is entitled, then he may coerce another into either providing it or into surrendering a portion of his property for its funding. Property rights, non-aggression, and self-ownership are all logically incompatible with any inherent positive right. An additional complication of positive rights is the ambiguity of the level of service to which one is entitled. Is he entitled to merely being taught the alphabet and simple arithmetic? Or is he entitled to being educated in advanced literature, calculus, and quantum physics? Perhaps something in between? Any such determination is highly arbitrary. If a theory of rights includes such arbitrary and unclear boundaries, it becomes counter-productive to its purpose of mitigating interpersonal conflict.

State Management vs. Free Market

One of the most pernicious aspects of the public schooling system is its compulsory attendance laws. Such laws have the effect of sending children to school against their will. The effects on a child’s creativity and psyche from being compelled by threat of force to go to such sterile institutions are incalculable. Such institutions are not tailored to his individual preferences or capacities to any substantial degree. Some children may withdraw into depression and other anti-social behavior; other children may act out and rebel, which is not only an indication that such a situation is unhealthy for them, but also renders the educational environment for their peers less suitable for growth. An environment of child-selected education would eliminate the majority of anti-social behavior.  Institutions that were voluntarily chosen by parent and child alike would yield greater and more direct incentives to please parents and children. Such institutions would provide the methods and content of education that is most highly desired and/or under-serviced relative to the market demand. In contrast, compulsory attendance laws coupled with taxation create an environment filled with moral hazard for these schools. If school funding is guaranteed by the State, then the focus will be geared much more towards satisfying government bureaucrats than catering to the desires of parents and, least of all, to the desires of children. Public schools are only marginally concerned with parental satisfaction as they cannot, under threat of force, withdraw their financial support from them. Aaron Smith offers a few remarks on compulsory attendance laws:

Current laws vary by state in details, but they are quite homogeneous in spirit. All require a minimum amount of instructional time (ranging from 160 to 186 days annually) at approved institutions. The majority of Americans between the ages of 5 and 18 are compelled to meet this requirement, with several states enforcing slightly more lenient laws. Although parents are free to pursue private education for their children, such options are almost always regulated by state governments.[3]

In essence, compulsory attendance laws and the regulation of curriculum effectively subject children to imprisonment and mass indoctrination. When a single institution may dictate the length of formal schooling as well as regulate to a large degree the content which must be taught, such power will ultimately be used to benefit itself irrespective of its purported goals or intended beneficiaries. A population which at its youth is taught to obey authority for its own sake and that is, to a large degree, reared by State functionaries (public teachers) will be far easier to control and manage once it transitions into adulthood. Though this end may not be consciously acknowledged or pursued overtly by public school teachers, it is nonetheless a prominent result. Even if various politicians truly believe that it is in the best interest of all children to be in school for a set period of days or to receive a certain type of education, these intentions do not alter the fact that different children have different interests, aptitudes, and preferences that must be sacrificed to the central plan. Fully in agreement with Hayek, Mises remarks that:

The alternative is not plan or no plan. The question is: whose planning? Should each member of society plan for himself or should the paternal government alone plan for all? [4]

The degree to which education is uniform and involuntarily imposed upon children is the degree to which they will suffer now in the form of boredom, intimidation, and despair and in the future in the form of untapped potential, a dulled mind, and a greater susceptibility to the whims of arbitrary authority. The many hours spent at school enduring tedious and vacuous instruction could have instead been used for more engaging and stimulating learning activities tailored more closely to the capacities and desires of the individual child. Though a voluntary or free market education system will not always be perfectly tailored, its incentive structure would be much more appropriately aligned with achieving the ends of edification, growth, and maturity than its Statist counterpart equipped with the exclusive powers to aggressively demand payment for its services and to unilaterally dictate the scope thereof. Even parents who send their children to private schools or decide to homeschool are still subject to compulsory attendance laws and curriculum requirements. In essence, they and their children remain subject to the same aggressive and monopolistic oversight perpetrated by the State. Aaron Smith comments on the State’s destructive role in squashing private educational alternatives:

Private schools and homeschools are rarely truly free-market alternatives to government-regulated education. By mandating attendance, states have a virtual stranglehold on the nature of private education. After all, in order to become a state-approved program of study at which “official” attendance is recognized, private actors are forced to satisfy some combination of curricular, reporting, and testing requirements… The state’s monopoly on what defines “education” inevitably suppresses alternative views, thereby eliminating the complexity and diversity that should be prevalent in the market. Instead, a homogeneous system is used to serve heterogeneous students — yet another cost of compulsory education… The natures of schools should be as diverse as the population itself. Curriculum, delivery method, and instructional time are but a few of the myriad variables that must be customized if the individual needs of a child are to be met. Rothbard noted the advantage of unfettered development of private schools in that “there will tend to be developed on the free market a different type of school for each type of demand.”[5]

This analysis of the State managed education system may be perceived as hyperbolic to some. However, this has much to do with the doublethink inculcated in the youth during public instruction. Simply replace the term “State” with “Corporation” and try to imagine how people would react in horror to the idea of this institution exerting monopolistic control over the education industry, dictating what must be taught and how many days out of the year children will have to endure instruction. In addition to this, imagine that this corporation is granted the power to force everyone to pay for this service at the threat of violence, to include even those who have no children at all! Consider the outrage and slew of criticisms which would shower down upon such an idea: “monopolies result in ever increasing prices,” “such a monopoly would suppress innovation and diversity!” Virtually nothing separates the State from this hypothetical corporation. The same criticisms which apply to this monstrous monopolist apply equally to the State! The State is akin to a mega corporation that owes its size and largesse to its exclusive legal rights to violently impose its will upon others and to force its subjects to pay for the costs of the enforcement of its edicts through taxes. The State is comprised of human beings, just as a corporation, just as a club, just as any other organization is comprised and as such is subject to the same temptations, corruptions, and perversions associated with arbitrary power. Isabel Paterson describes the mental constriction such an organization employs:

Political control is… by its nature, bound to legislate against statements of both facts and opinion, in prescribing a school curriculum, in the long run. The most exact and demonstrable scientific knowledge will certainly be objectionable to political authority at some point, because it will expose the folly of such authority, and its vicious effects. Nobody would be permitted to show the nonsensical absurdity of “dialectical materialism” in Russia, by logical examination… and if the political authority is deemed competent to control education, that must be the outcome in any country.

Educational texts are necessarily selective, in subject matter, language, and point of view. Where teaching is conducted by private schools, there will be a considerable variation in different schools; the parents must judge what they want their children taught, by the curriculum offered. Then each must strive for objective truth… Nowhere will there be any inducement to teach the “supremacy of the state” as a compulsory philosophy. But every politically controlled educational system will inculcate the doctrine of state supremacy sooner or later, whether as the divine right of kings, or the “will of the people” in “democracy.” Once that doctrine has been accepted, it becomes an almost superhuman task to break the stranglehold of the political power over the life of the citizen. It has had his body, property, and mind in its clutches from infancy. An octopus would sooner release its prey…

A tax-supported, compulsory educational system is the complete model of the totalitarian state.[6]

The Economics of State vs. Free Market Education Systems

For a minute, assume away all of the corruption that comes with arbitrary power. Suppose, instead, that every State agent is benevolent and has the best intentions for its citizens. The question now is: how do they know the most efficient allocation of resources so as to minimize costs? How do those employed by the State know what size a given school should be? How many teachers ought it to employ? What type of food it should serve? What method and content of education should it deliver? What assortment of supplies, software programs, and disciplinary techniques should it utilize? They may hold democratic votes on these questions, but scarcely anyone voting would have any idea of the opportunity costs involved in their decisions. The parents would, of course, want the “best” computers, teachers, supplies, food, etc. for their children yet they will not desire the high taxes that may be associated with the provision of such goods. Perhaps the capabilities of super computers exceed the demands of the students; perhaps a teacher with a Ph. D would be more optimally employed in a college setting as opposed to a kindergarten class. The most obvious hurdle is that every scarce resource used for one end is a resource that cannot be used for another mutually exclusive end simultaneously.

These calculation issues do not stop merely at the use to which these educational resources are put, but expand into the general economy. More resources used for the educational system result in fewer resources being available for other ends, which may include healthcare, food production, provision of security, etc. Because the service of education is largely subsidized and regulated by the State apparatus, any sort of pricing mechanism which may have otherwise served as an invaluable guide for such resource considerations is now rendered defective. Prices are only effective at guiding economic decisions and determining opportunity costs to the extent they are voluntarily and organically developed. In the case of public schooling, consumers do not voluntarily pay for this service. Their property is taxed at a rate totally unrelated to what they may have otherwise been willing to pay. Because their payment is coerced, the quantitative indicator (price) representing the relative supply of educational resources and corresponding demand for these resources is rendered hopelessly muddled.

In contrast, when such services are patronized on an exclusively voluntary basis, the price system provides an accurate and objective reflection of the market value of all resources. These market generated prices would then serve as an invaluable guide for making economic decisions as they reflect with greater precision the opportunity costs associated with hiring one teacher over another or purchasing one computer over another…etc. Furthermore, such prices allow entrepreneurs to compare the profitability or efficacy of their business models with others. Of course, due to one’s subjective preferences, maximizing monetary profits may not be the ultimate goal, however, the level of one’s profits or losses would still provide the entrepreneur with valuable feedback regarding which services are satisfying customers and to what degree they enjoy them. This will be a crucial factor in most business decisions as ignoring consumer preferences – as public schools are in the habit of doing – would in the long run lead to bankruptcy or business failure.

Without grants of State protection or legal favoritism, those decisions which make the most economic uses of resources will also be the ones that yield the greatest amount of profits for entrepreneurs, aligning their self-interests with the interests of the consumer. Unlike the public schooling system, there will not be widespread misallocation of various supplies and services. There will be objective indicators, noted in terms of profits and losses, which reveal whether or not the employment of a particular teaching method or the content taught is desired and if the supplies used are lacking, necessary, or excessive in the process. The unsuppressed competition will continue to drive entrepreneurs to seek more innovative, economic, and tailored ways to satisfy a growing share of the market for childhood growth and edification. This is a realistic system for achieving these goals as it takes into account scarcity, opportunity costs, subjective preference, consumer heterogeneity, and the self-interests of educational entrepreneurs. The organic market system of freely consenting individuals harmonizes all of these factors absent central direction. The resulting satisfaction from such a spontaneous order is something that cannot be paralleled by aggressive control or political management, no matter how competent those in power may be. Certain popular standards will undoubtedly emerge from this kaleidoscopic mixing, however, such standards and the successful enterprises that utilize them will only remain so long as they continue to provide a desired service in an economically efficient manner.

The State’s Effect on Post-Secondary Education

             University tuition is prohibitively expensive, yet attendance rates remain as strong as ever. What accounts for this? Once again, government meddling has produced an artificially high demand for post-secondary education, which is creating price hikes at an increasing rate. This artificial demand is fueled by subsidized student loans, grants, and the moral hazards generated by the State guaranteeing privately provided student loans. B.T. Donleavy comments on the extent to which university students lean on the State for assistance:

The Department of Education reports having a $63.7 billion budget in appropriations for 2010. It has also received $96.8 billion from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The department’s website states that “department programs also provide grant, loan, and work-study assistance to more than 14 million post-secondary students.” That is roughly 4 million short of every college student in the country. Does this mean that only 22% of students in the United States have adequate means to pay for college? Based on America’s economic model, this statistic should theoretically be impossible. This means that over 3/4 of Americans attending higher-education institutions are “in need.”[7]

Former president of the Mises Institute, Douglas French, has this to say about the effects of State credit subsidization on post-secondary education:

Like all booms, higher education has been fueled by credit. In June of last year, total student-loan debt exceeded total credit-card debt outstanding for the first time, totaling more than $900 billion… All of this credit has pushed the average cost of tuition up 440 percent in the last 25 years, more than four times the rate of inflation. But while the factors of production on campus have been bid up, just as they are in any other asset boom, the return on investment is a bust. In 1992, there were 5.1 million mal-employed college graduates. By 2008, the number was 17 million.

Not only are the returns poor, but the quality of the product is poor (as in the case of new-construction quality in the housing boom). According to the authors of Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses, 45 percent of students make no gains in their critical reasoning and thinking skills, as well as writing ability, after two years in college. More than one out of three college seniors were no better at writing and thinking than they were when they first arrived at their campuses.

Many projects contemplated and started during the real-estate boom are never completed, as prices are bid up, and owners run out of capital. Such is the case for many attending college, as over 45 percent of those who enroll as freshmen ultimately give up, realizing they lack the disciplinary and mental capital, and do not graduate.[8]

Once again, unintended consequences pervade the actions of the State, despite the good intentions of its subsidized and managed services. It is important to remember that prices serve a critical function for the economic rationing and allocation of scarce resources relative to their demand. Price manipulation by involuntary redistributions of wealth undermines the ability for prices to spread information of economic realities. In this case, student loans are subsidized with tax dollars involuntarily confiscated from taxpayers and redistributed either to the schools directly or to the students via grants and guaranteed loans. It is no surprise, then, to witness how such interventions have inflated the prices and degraded the quality of the higher education services being offered today.

In distinct contrast, a privatized education system without enormous takings from Peter given to Paul would not be subject to such folly. Entrepreneurs who provided poor services or charged excessive prices would lose business to their more apt competitors who more astutely recognized what students wanted and were able to provide it to them. Prospective students would be confronted with the true costs of schooling when deciding which schools to attend or whether they should even attend formal post-secondary schooling at all. Perhaps they would be happier learning a vocation or participating in an apprenticeship outside of the academic rigmarole of university life. In a free market system, it is the consumer that ultimately determines the configuration of their services, and the providers of those services only benefit insofar as their voluntary subscribers benefit.

What About The Poor?

Perhaps the most common objection to a non-State education system is the possibility of the poor having access only to lesser education, if any at all. However, what can be readily discerned is that the costs of education in such a system would be significantly lower than what private education costs today, as such schools would not have to abide by mandated regulations, occupational licensing requirements, curriculum mandates, et al. Schools would therefore have much more flexibility in the provision of their services. In addition, rabid competition in this industry would tend to drive entrepreneurs providing education to continually decrease costs and increase the quality of their services.

Moreover, educational institutions in free markets would not have to unfairly compete with the State which is able to demand payment from all persons under its jurisdiction, whether or not they take advantage of its services. Private entrepreneurs, on the other hand, cannot resort to such jackboot tactics; they would have to persuade potential clients to pay through the art of sales and influence. In addition, the option of online classes may become prevalent as they are highly effective and relatively inexpensive, if not completely free. Bountiful, free, online educational resources already exist such as Wikipedia, Code Academy, and the Mises Institute. With the advent of the Internet and digital learning, even the most esoteric topics may be accessible to virtually everyone in the world. In 2014, one may enroll in a Bachelor degree’s worth of courses entirely for free from MIT, Stanford, and numerous other prestigious institutions which host their lectures online absolutely free. Arcane topics such as cryptography, technology entrepreneurialism, environmental protection, statistical mechanics, and many others are offered on monthly or quarterly bases – no payment is asked, and students may enroll or cancel at any time they choose without obligation. This paradigm of free and open courseware is utterly revolutionizing; the gates of knowledge and information are being torn down and free entry is offered to any student, child or adult, enterprising enough to take part in the course material. This has the capacity to educate whole swathes of underclass, marginalized, and disenfranchised populations who were prevented, directly or indirectly, from participating in the great adventure of higher education.

Currently, under the State-managed education system, anyone who wishes to send their children to a private school is also required to fund public schools through taxes. In a free market, however, those who purchase education services for themselves or their children would not be paying twice – once for a lean, efficient operation and twice for a bloated, indoctrination facility. With boundless freedom, a student may take courses which pertain to his interests as opposed to being compelled by curriculum standards to take courses for which he cares nothing, saving valuable time and money.

Naturally, in such a free environment, there would be disparities in the quality of services just as sunglasses from Wal-Mart are of considerably lower quality than those offered by Versace. The difference, however, is that those services and products which are currently only accessible to the rich would, over time, tend to become accessible to the middle class and eventually the poor. When the middle class and the poor witness the luxuries enjoyed by the rich, they begin to yearn for them. With this new demand comes an impetus for entrepreneurs to discover ways to provide these luxuries to the lesser socio-economic classes at prices they can afford.[9] In other words, the envy of the middle class and the poor represents a business opportunity for entrepreneurs that drives the market to find cheaper and more efficient ways to make these goods more accessible. This has been the case with automobiles, computers, colored televisions, cell phones, and every other type of consumer electronic. Though there may be a disparity in services present in the market, the tendency will be for all levels of services to increase in quality and decrease in price. This is the beauty of unhampered markets; they transform goods only the wealthy can afford today into goods owned by virtually everyone tomorrow.

Finally, various educational institutions may be more than happy to recruit bright students that are financially lacking. Schools operating in a marketplace have the incentive to acquire as many bright students as possible so as to appear more attractive to a slew of financially-able parents and guardians. The poor, yet bright, student would benefit by gaining access to high-quality facilities and teaching faculty and the school would profit by being able to more effectively solicit its services as a training ground for inquisitive minds. Naturally, schools of every variety face this incentive. Art schools want talented art students, vocational schools want technically gifted individuals, etc. Smith highlights how the restriction of private education hurts precisely those for whom public education was intended to benefit:

The poor and middle class are most injured by the lack of innovation that results from government monopoly on education, as they are without the means to pursue the artificially limited supply of private education available. Instead, their children are forced to attend under-performing public schools that often have little regard for the unique faculties of individual students. It is likely that the generalized education imposed on them will do nothing but retard their development, suppress their talent, and instill in them a permanent disdain for learning.[10]

On Standards       

Standards in any industry are important, as standards allow for the comparison of performance and the evaluation of service. It is precisely because some form of standards would be desired that the market will produce them. For example, entrepreneurs may want to advertise the average test scores of their school and how they compare to the competition as a selling point. Any educational institution which did not offer a reference point by which to compare its services with others would lose market share to those firms which displayed prominently their fitness on standardized grounds. In addition, third party organizations which specialize in evaluating and comparing different schooling institutions, companies, textbook providers, lesson plans, and projects would flourish. Without the State enforcing its own arbitrary metrics, watch-dog organizations would arise to take over the role instantly. In higher education, the process of accreditation has been a largely private function for hundreds of years (though this too is being swallowed by the vanity of State oversight). Judith Eaton outlines the history and nature of accreditation:

Accreditation is a creation of colleges and universities that dates back more than a century. Its fundamental purposes are quality assurance and quality improvement in higher education. A process of self-regulation through peer and professional review, it is the oldest such system in the world. Today more than seven thousand colleges and universities and more than twenty thousand programs serving some twenty-four million students willingly undergo periodic accreditation review by nineteen institutional accreditors and sixty-one programmatic accreditors. Accreditation is nongovernmental by design and relies on funding from colleges, universities, and programs (some $92 million in 2007, according to the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, of which I am president). Accreditation depends heavily on volunteers from higher education who participate in self-studies, serve as peer and professional reviewers, and serve on accrediting organizations’ decision-making bodies.[11]

As in anything else, there will be competition in the field of providing standards and other metrics for these institutions. Particular third party evaluation companies will gain reputation over time based on how effective they can measure aptitude and quality. If employers tend to, on the whole, favor metrics from company A to company B, then more educational institutions will be compelled to subject themselves to the standards set by company A. Of course, different metrics may be offered for different types of schooling, however, the process of market selection will remain the same. Those standards which never garner popularity will fade away and the practices of the more successful metrics will be copied and improved upon by others. The resulting metrics will have been driven by individuals in the market, and not by the arbitrary caprice of politicians and bureaucrats. Such standards, being products of the market, would be perpetually and accurately modified in accordance with the vicissitudes of consumer preference.


Though the tool of education is largely under State control, it is also the key to our salvation. Instilling in our children and in our peers the virtues of peace, critical thought, logic, and empathy will enable them to break free from the mental shackles of the State. State power is, in the end, rooted in the sanction of its subjects. Free minds who question their training will ultimately reject the conditioning of their State handlers. As in other industries, free markets in education are defined by the capacity to privately own or employ all scarce goods – including capital, land, buildings, materials – and to organize them on consensual grounds. This paradigm substantially and sustainably promotes innovation, peace, cooperation, wealth, and an overall greater standard of living. It accomplishes this by enabling participants to measure and compare their business ventures through market prices, and by aligning their personal interests in accruing wealth and influence with the interests of greater society. The State is simply the inverse; through its commands and dictates, it destroys the capacity for critical thinking and free expression. It seeks to create identical subjects, like goods on a mass production line, obedient to established authority, deferential to “the rules,” controlled by bells and punch clocks, and ultimately unable to discover the barbaric nature of their master.



[1] Mises, “Action Within the Framework of Society,” in Human Action, 157.

[2] Murray N. Rothbard, “The Individual’s Education” in Education, Free & Compulsory (Auburn: Ludwig Von Mises Institute, 1999), 5.

[3] Aaron Smith, “The Costs of Compulsory Education.” (editorial published at Ludwig Von Mises Institute, Auburn, Alabama, June 22, 2011.)

[4] Ludwig Von Mises, “Planning for Freedom” (speech presented at the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1945).

[5] Smith, “The Costs of Compulsory Education.

[6] Isabel Paterson, The God of the Machine (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1943), 271-72.

[7] B. T. Donleavy, “The Education Bubble” (editorial published at Ludwig Von Mises Institute, Auburn, Alabama, May 12, 2010).

[8] Douglas French, “The Higher-Education Bubble Has Popped” (editorial published at Ludwig Von Mises Institute, Auburn, Alabama, August 10, 2011).

[9] “The classical factory of the early days of the Industrial Revolution was the cotton mill. Now, the cotton goods it turned out were not something the rich were asking for. These wealthy people clung to silk, linen, and cambric. Whenever the factory with its methods of mass production by means of power-driven machines invaded a new branch of production, it started with the production of cheap goods for the broad masses.” Mises, “Work and Wages,” in Human Action, 616. See also, Deirdre N. McCloskey, The Bourgeois Virtues: Ethics for an Age of Commerce (Chicago: University of Chicago, 2006).

[10] Smith, ibid.

[11] Judith S. Eaton, “Accreditation and the Federal Future of Higher Education” (editorial published at American Association of University Professors, September-October, 2010).

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