Those who expect to reap the benefits of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it. – Thomas Paine

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

In Praise of Price Gouging

by Ron Paul

As the northeastern United States continues to recover from Hurricane Sandy, we hear the usual outcry against individuals and companies who dare to charge market prices for goods such as gasoline. The normal market response of rising prices in the wake of a natural disaster and resulting supply disruptions is redefined as “price gouging.” The government claims that price gouging is the charging of ruinous or exploitative prices for goods in short supply in the wake of a disaster and is a heinous crime  But does this reflect economic reality, or merely political posturing to capitalize on raw emotions? 

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the supply of gasoline was greatly disrupted. Many gas stations were unable to pump gas due to a lack of electricity, thus greatly reducing the supply.  At the same time demand for gasoline spiked due to the widespread use of generators. Because gas stations were forbidden from raising their prices to meet the increased demand, miles-long lines developed and stations were forced to start limiting the amount of gasoline that individuals could purchase. New Jersey gas stations began to look like Soviet grocery stores.

Had gas stations been allowed to raise their prices to reflect the increased demand for gasoline, only those most in need of gasoline would have purchased gas, while everyone would have economized on their existing supply. But because prices remained lower than they should have been, no one sought to conserve gas.  Low prices signaled that gas was in abundant supply, while reality was exactly the opposite, and only those fortunate enough to be at the front of gas lines were able to purchase gas before it sold out.  Not surprisingly, a thriving black market developed, with gas offered for up to $20 per gallon.

With price controls in effect, supply shortages were exacerbated.  If prices had been allowed to increase to market levels, the profit opportunity would have brought in new supplies from outside the region.  As supplies increased, prices gradually would have decreased as supply and demand returned to equilibrium. But with price controls in effect, what company would want to deal with the hassle of shipping gas to a disaster-stricken area with downed power lines and flooded highways when the same profit could be made elsewhere?  So instead of gas shipments flooding into the disaster zones, what little gas supply is left is rapidly sold and consumed.

Governments fail to understand that prices are not just random numbers. Prices perform an important role in providing information, coordinating supply and demand, and enabling economic calculation. When government interferes with the price mechanism, economic calamity ensues. Price controls on gasoline led to the infamous gas lines of the 1970s, yet politicians today repeat those same failed mistakes. Instituting price caps at a below-market price will always lead to shortages. No act of any legislature can reverse the laws of supply and demand. 

History shows us that the quickest path to economic recovery is to abolish all price controls. If governments really want to aid recovery, they would abolish their “price-gouging” legislation and allow the free market to function.

Monday, November 12, 2012

De-worshipping Public Education

by Karen De Coster

Hard as it is to believe, the world is still chock-full of professional educators who worship the ideals of a state-sponsored, indoctrinating public school system. This system is wrought with funding boondoggles, and has proven to be an arrant failure overall, damaging millions of children in the process.

Public education is based on the idea that government is the "parent" best equipped to provide children with the values and wisdom required to grow into an intelligent, functional adult. To reiterate what former first lady Hillary Clinton professed, these public school champions believe "it takes a village…."

It doesn't take a village to raise and educate children. It takes a family, a church, interested third parties such as friends and neighbors, or quality private educational institutions that flourish under a capitalistic system and respond to the paying parent-consumers.

As Hebrew University historian Martin van Crevald points out in his book, The Rise and Decline of the State, the archetype for state-directed education was popularized by nineteenth-century state worshippers who wanted to impose a love of big government ideals upon the youth. There was also the move toward secularization, and an overall appetite for "discipline" of the unruly (meaning independent) masses that buttressed the campaign to take education out of the hands of family and church.

After all, unruly, independently educated masses might resist government's objectives, and this kind of disarray would be unacceptable in the move toward building a powerful, controlling state apparatus. Prussia's Frederick William I and France's Napoleon discerned this, as did a legion of other despotic rulers throughout the 18th and 19th centuries.

Modern-day education has built on the foundation set forth by these tyrants. What is most disquieting about the public education mindset is that those who believe most strongly in it are convinced that there are no other noble alternatives, and that the alternatives that do exist are merely a hindrance to the only real education, that which is provided via the public domain. The egalitarian core belief of these educators is that society is responsible for obtaining, maintaining, and paying for the process of equally developing young minds.

But since the laws of the modern state that control the educational system lean toward equality, that means a bias against the smart and hardworking. This takes education to the level of heavy egalitarian leanings, sustaining the philosophy that schools have the obligation to treat all students as pure equals — equal in intelligence, work ethic, performance, and desire. Such nonsense is refuted by H. George Resch in "Human Variety and Individuality" on the Separation of School and State website.

Mr. Resch contends that compulsory, government-controlled education is trying to achieve ends that are not possible due to the fact that general equality is not only impossible to define, but that biological, environmental, and cultural differences among us are so vast that a compulsory, standardized public education poses difficulties that cannot be overcome, and certainly not by a public school system.

It's obvious that public schooling is neither beneficial to most students, nor is it efficient. Education is an acquired good, a good that has to meet the needs of the consumers, or else face rejection in the free market. Hence, the necessity for individually tailored private educational institutions that cater to the urgencies of the marketplace, or home schools that provide a quality environment for each student's direct needs.

In school districts throughout the land, public school teachers and administrators, along with closely allied PTA's, battle a threatening voucher system — extolled by conservatives as the "great solution" to education. The voucher system, to the public school proponent, means the likely scenario of competition — a little bit of the free market invading their government-protected world of free-form indoctrination.

Vouchers may — according to these public educators — open up the possibility that parents would seek higher standards in the public school curriculum, educational materials, and teacher-administrator qualities, or else these parents could easily cash in on their vouchers and move on to an alternative institution that is more likely to listen to their wishes, and modify its overall teaching program accordingly. This means that all those educators using "Heather has Two Mommies" to brainwash children on the "virtues" of homosexuality might have to trade in such liberal balderdash for truly educational literature. How ridiculous that the education system should dare have to fall into the snare of having to concede to the free market!

The voucher threat may also pressure schools to drop their ineffectual, equality-minded goals in favor of programs that would champion the forgotten merit of competition, and focus more intensely on those students who are destined for achievement above and beyond the norm.

Of course, one should stand strongly opposed to any flagitious voucher system, though for reasons opposite of those propounded by the pro-public schooling hawks. Vouchers are anti-free market in general, and are just another way for government to control young minds, and a way to further dig itself more deeply into the mostly unregulated sphere of private education. Vouchers allow for no freedom whatsoever from the clutches of the state-mandated regulatory circus. However, there is certain joy in seeing public school proponents backed into a corner with their claws out and having to do battle with something moderately competitive.

Then, of course, there is the greatest threat of all, which comes from the home schooling crowd. Public educators shrivel at the mere mention of home-schooled students out-performing their public school peers.

For example, the National Education Association has recently attacked the legitimacy of home schooling in spite of home-schoolers' recent successes in terms of placing students first, second, and third in a national spelling bee, and claiming the overall winner in a national geography bee. A huge success for home schooling, and private education in general, these accomplishments raised the ire of those who insist on the public education way.

Just recently, a spokesperson for the NEA stated that public schooling is far superior to all forms of private education — because of its advanced academic opportunities and convenience of socialization. This statement ignores the fact that the home schooling environment has developed voluntary communal learning environments that allows for direct community involvement for the students, and draws upon the expertise of numerous individuals to obtain the greatest excellence in resource use for teaching.

Let me state that the public education field is not composed entirely of incompetents and ne'er-do-wells. There are a lot of ethical, hard-working and concerned people in the public school systems that desire to do their best to bring sense and order to an unworkable system. The bigger problem remains this: the system was built on authoritarian intentions, the premises for why we need public education are incorrect, and maintaining funding for such a monstrous system becomes impossible in the long run without plundering an entire population to support it.

Simple common sense dictates that my paying $1,200 in annual school taxes with no children in the local public school system, while a neighbor with four children taking advantage of the free schooling in our district pays the same $1,200 in school taxes, is indeed a theft of colossal proportions.

This constant depredation of an entire community to pay for the education of the children of some of the members of that community violates the core philosophy of self-sustaining, voluntary market coordination. This is truly a form of legalized gangstering, where every property-owning taxpayer is robbed via legal government mandate to help support the goals of the state in maintaining a vicious system of educational welfare for my richer, as well as poorer neighbors.

It's high time that the public resist the inherent dangers of continuing on a path toward a more socialized, bureaucratic, and just plain immoral taxpayer-funded public school system. Taxpayers need to reject the public education nipple and look toward the same market they covet for their goods and services — the free market.

Friday, November 9, 2012

What Freedom Means to Me

by Fran Tully

Freedom is one of those words that is thrown around by everyone--even those who spend most of their lives trying to restrict yours. Freedom means different things to different people.

The men who started this country were willing to risk their lives over an unfair tax of 2%. Maybe they realized that 2% was just the proverbial camel's nose under the tent. But the Founders demanded liberty, and were willing to fight to preserve their right to be free . . . to be left alone . . . not to be forced to pay for something that they didn't want or weren't getting.

So when I think about about freedom, I think about the outright LIE that we keep being told . . . that "we live in the freest nation on earth." It makes me angry, and sick to my stomach. We do NOT live in the freest nation on earth. We live in what USED TO BE a country that offered the greatest opportunities on earth.

What bothers me more than anything else, is that government believes that it is entitled to deny me my most basic rights. In my quest for freedom, I think I have finally figured out what freedom means to me. Freedom is self-sufficiency, self-governance. The freedom to exercise all of my basic human rights, without interference.

I dream of converting depleted soil back into black, healthy, productive, mineral-rich topsoil . . . of raising my own livestock to provide me with eggs, meat, manure, and seed-ready soil . . . . Of a root cellar full of potatoes, onions, garlic, corn, apples, squash, canned vegetables, cured ham, and pumpkins. A pond and a creek teaming with fish, frogs, and birds. A fence with a sign warning unwanted guests that once they cross that line, they will be treated as a threat just like any other trespasser with criminal intent. Trees with fruit, nuts, shade, and stored energy. A power system that is completely independent of the grid. A view of nature where I can watch the sunrise, the wildlife in their natural habitat, and a sky free of power lines and buildings. My self-governance would make me supreme ruler of all of my land. I would NOT ask permission for anything that I believed was my basic natural right. I would decide how much to smoke, drink, eat, burn, and irrigate--based on what I believed would best serve the continuation of a healthy body and property. I would decide if, when and how an animal should be slaughtered, butchered and preserved. I would decide if some of the water from the creek should be put into a cistern or used to generate electricity. I would determine if my children should be able to drive a car or a motorized vehicle. I would decide who could enter my property. I would decide if and how much I should pay some government parasite in taxes. I would decide if people I invite onto the property should have guns, and if they should be allowed to carry them. It would not be a government-free zone . . . I would govern it--and ONLY me. I would be free in my mind, and in my actions. I would be free from stress, because I wouldn't have to worry about if my food was designed to be a slow kill weapon, if my water was treated to cause weak bones, dementia, and slow learning. I wouldn't be worried about some goon with a gun groping my wife or kids, or asking them to walk into an X-ray chamber with no protection. I wouldn't be worried that forced vaccinations are just another name for chemical warfare, I wouldn't be concerned about grocery stores with a three-day supply of food running out because of a power outage, an act of war, a riot, or a collapse of the financial system. I wouldn't be concerned about my neighbors killing my family for their next meal--or an agent of the law killing me because I refuse to give up my gun and go peacefully into their controlled housing. My freedom would be from the inside out.

As a teenager, freedom came when I left the supervision of my parents and took responsibility for feeding myself, educating myself, protecting myself, and housing myself. Over time, the government has tried to enslave me against my will. They have violated my privacy, contaminated my air and water, destroyed the value of my savings and investments, and turned my food into poison. They have orchestrated a plan to sterilize the population, and created a tax and school system designed to break apart the family unit. They believe that they have won, that they have us right where they want us. But I believe that some will simply wake up, and walk out. Just as we walked out of our parents' homes as teens, we need to once again decide to do for ourselves.

In my vision of Freedom, we build our own energy efficient home--don't live in the bank's house. Repair the soil and grow our own food--don't poison the earth with Monsanto chemicals and GMO seeds. Create a natural balance, where the cows, sheep, chickens, and pigs naturally work the ground, maintain the plants, and control disease. Develop our own mini-power plants with wind, water, and solar. Plan our power consumption with the idea that the more efficiently we use it, the less we will need to produce or store. Enjoy reading, writing, and conversation. Practice horseshoes, cross-country skiing, and walking instead of watching TV or going to the gym. Plant flowers, clover, and hang a bird feeder to add beauty and attract nature. Put up bat houses to control mosquitoes. Make fishing poles and raise worms to improve soil, feed the birds, and enjoy fresh fish. Grow barley and hops so we can brew our own beer. Grow grapes, plums, and berries to provide our own wine. Grow tobacco and comfrey to have something to smoke and trade. Grow an orchard of apples for fruit, juice, cider, and vinegar. To me, this is as free as one can hope to get. Some people might believe that such a life would be too hard. But to me, nothing could be as hard as watching this country spiral toward socialism and total destruction of all that was once good. To me, that is more than I can bear. Freedom isn't free, and it isn't easy, but none of the best things in life are. Freedom is worth fighting for . . . and worth leaving for.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Election 2012: How The Winner Will Destroy America

by Brandon Smith

After all the hollow and uninspired elections that this country has suffered through over the past several decades, one might think that at some point long ago the American public would have finally struck a plateau of disenfranchisement; that we could sink no further into despondency, that there is a saturation limit to the corruption of our voting process.  Unfortunately, there has been no such luck.  I have to say that in all honesty I have never seen more people gut jumbled and disgusted with our electoral system than I have in 2012.  Sure, there is still a hyper-gullible segment of the populous that continues to play the game, but even those idiots are beginning to admit that the choices offered are dismal at best, catastrophic at worst.  The fog of the false Left/Right paradigm is starting to lift, and all that lay in its wake is a hoard of lost wide-eyed flabbergasted followers without a coattail or a talking point to cling to.  Sudanese refugees have a better chance of survival than these people do…

Even in the more obvious of fraudulent past elections there was at least an attempt by the establishment to present a pageant of conflicting ideologies (George W. Bush vs. John Kerry comes to mind).  There has always been the Democrat who pretends to be anti-war, or the Republican who pretends to be small government, or the Democrat who pretends to defend our right to privacy, and the Republican who pretends to be pro-2nd Amendment.  But in 2012, even the theater of rhetoric has disappeared.  Both primary party candidates seem to be sharing the same intestinal tract and the same teleprompter, and now, the average American is asking a new set of questions.  They do not wonder how these men will change things for the better.  Not at all.  Instead, they wonder which one will do LESS DAMAGE while in office.  This is the terrible reality we have come to understand in our society today.  It is a sad awakening, but a necessary one. 

As you read this now, the new President of the United States is being “chosen” or has been chosen.  Whoever the “winner” happens to be is ultimately irrelevant.  They do not count.  They are mascots.  Middle management cronies running through the motions to distract the masses while enacting the policies of their superiors.  They are fry cooks serving greasy overpriced democracy with no real sustenance.  What does matter, though, is what comes next.  I’m sorry to say that the idea that one man will do less damage than the other is a na├»ve sentiment.  Democrat?  Republican?  Obama?  Romney?  The crimes and calamities wrought will be exactly the same.  Take a look into my crystal ball and see the future.  Here is how the winner will destroy America…

1)  He Will Continue The Policy Of Dollar Devaluation

Neither candidate has expressed any interest through the election or even before it to protect the value of our currency, and both candidates have supported steps towards quantitative easing and fiat printing in order to delay an inevitable national debt crisis.  Both Romney and Obama have sung the praises of Ben Bernanke (Romney changed his tune just in time for his campaign, but who's buying that?) and the private Federal Reserve despite the consistent failures of that despotic institution to produce any tangible economic results with their Keynesian methods. 

The dollar will see a vast devaluation during the term of this candidate and a loss of world reserve status, leading to stagflation (a combination of the worst elements of deflationary and inflationary crises in the same event).  Skyrocketing prices and crumbling unemployment will be the highlights of his presidency, because he will never take measures to reign in or dismantle the primary root cause of the problem; the Federal Reserve itself. 

2)  He Will Continue Extreme Government Debt Spending

Neither candidate has offered a practical or operable solution to the $16 trillion official national debt problem we now face, let alone the tens of trillions of dollars in entitlement obligations that the Treasury Department never talks about.  A nation can only live off food stamps and credit for so long before it implodes like a wet paper sack. And this is exactly what we have become; an entire culture of debt addicts and money hounds searching for our next fix of foreign or central bank cash.  The fact is, both Obama and Romney would INCREASE spending while using fiat injections to buttress an ever weakening economy in the name of “stability”.  The new president will claim that if spending cuts are initiated, it will send the U.S. financial system into a tailspin and a “return” to recession conditions.  This will of course be a lie.  We have not left recession/depression conditions since 2008. 

3)  He Will Support And Expand On Wars In The Middle East

There is no such thing as a mainstream “anti-war candidate” in 2012.  Not even a fake one.  Obama’s measures of state violence and complete lack of respect for the sovereign internal matters of foreign nations surpass the madness of George Bush Jr.  He has even gone so far as to assert that his office has the right to assassinate American citizens without trial, evidence, or due process of the law.  Not only has he asserted the right to this power, he has used it!  Romney’s position, hilariously, is that Obama has not gone far enough!  Either way, the winner in 2012 is going to leap like a vile locust into new countries and unleash a plague of laser guided death.  The next president WILL be a war hungry president.

4)  He Will Lock Down The Web And Limit Internet Speech

Both Romney and Obama have expressed a desire to establish cybersecurity measures which include vast new governmental authority over the functions and operations of the internet.  The ultimate goal?  To gain legal precedence for the right to dictate web content, up to and including the ability to label any website a subversive threat to national security or a recruitment tool for “extremists”. 

With the establishment spreading completely baseless accusation of cyberthreats coming from every corner of the globe (but mostly from Iran) it would seem that they are conditioning the public for a future encounter with a cyber event, and telling them who to blame when it occurs.  The problem is, the most prominent cyber security threats to the internet in the past few years have come not from the Middle East, or Russia, or China, but the U.S. and Israel (Stuxnet anyone?).  Keep this in mind when our new president blames the next cyber attack on a convenient political target and then uses the event as an excuse to regulate the web.   

5)  He Will Erase American Civil Liberties

This president will find a reason, or he will create a reason to diminish Constitutional protections including our right to trial and due process.  Both candidates have offered unflinching support for the National Defense Authorization Act and its provisions for indefinite detainment.  Neither man has ventured any sincere concerns over the broad nature of the language involved in the labeling of “terrorists” and “extremists”.  Literally anyone can now be categorized as an enemy combatant and a threat to national security for almost any reason, and this appears to be the way Obama and Romney like it.  That is to say, they both want totalitarian powers, or at the very least, they have made no effort to turn them down.

It is important to note that there has never been a government in history that sought out such powers and did not actually use them.  Only a fool would assume his favorite elitist candidate in 2012 will not utilize the extreme authorities now amassed for the executive branch over the past decade.

6)  He Will Embrace A Globalist Dynamic And Abandon American Sovereignty

Both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are surrounded by “advisers” who are also members of the Council On Foreign Relations, an institution which openly calls for the dissolution of American sovereignty on a regular basis and the creation of a centralized global system dominating the financial, social, and political life of every nation in the world.  With the economic stability of the U.S. on the verge of oblivion, it is very likely that a historic crisis will ensue during the first term of the next president, and that he will in response suggest a new global system as the solution. 

This system has already been created, in part, by the IMF and World Bank in concert with member governments and revolves around the issuance of a new world reserve currency (Special Drawing Rights) as the centerpiece.  I can guarantee with absolute certainty that the next president, regardless of who he happens to be, will promote an IMF rescue package coupling the dollar to the SDR and turning over full economic control of America to an international body.  He will make it sound rational, reasonable, and even advantageous, but in the end, he will be selling the globalist snakeoil he was conscripted to sell before his election campaign ever started. 

In 2012, it will not be about voting.  It will not be about “winning”.  It will not even be about getting to the next election.  It will be about survival.  As big a joke as the 2012 elections have become even to the generally unaware, I am not laughing.  I do not need to look at the promises of either candidate.  I do not need to weigh their incompetent quick fix policies.  All I have to do is look at the current downward trend and understand that the president, whoever he may be, will continue it.  If anything is to truly change, it will be because we as Americans finally walk away from the game, enacting our own solutions and our own opposition instead of handing over our power to sniveling errand boys wrapped in flags and expensive suits and self-rightousness every four years.  2012 is going to be the beginning of upheaval and renewal, for better or for worse, and it is certain that the guy in the White House into 2013, Republican or Democrat, is going to be a part of the problem, nothing more…

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Economics of Disaster

by Ron Paul

Hurricane Sandy was one of the worst natural disasters the east coast has ever seen.  Clean-up and recovery will take months, if not years and estimates run in the tens of billions of dollars.  Parts of New York and New Jersey will never be the same.  Entire seashore communities have been wiped out, but the determination to rebuild has been lauded as courageous and admirable. Yet as with all natural disasters, Sandy raises uncomfortable questions about the extent to which taxpayers should fund the cleanup and the extent to which government programs create moral hazards.

For example, FEMA and the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) are expected to pick up the tab for much of the flood damage caused by the hurricane.  Of course this will mean more federal debt and inflation for the rest of us, since the program only has about $4 billion to work with and is already $18 billion in debt from hurricanes Katrina and Rita.  Many think there is a need for the government to provide flood insurance of this kind.  After all, the market would never provide insurance in flood prone areas at an affordable price.  But shouldn't that tell us something?

Shouldn't that tell us that it is a losing proposition to insure homes in coastal areas and flood plains often threatened by severe and destructive weather patterns? And if it’s a losing proposition, should taxpayers subsidize the inevitable losses arising from federal flood insurance?

The NFIP disguises the real cost of flood insurance in flood prone areas, which influences homebuilding and sales in such areas.  Recklessly taking unwise risks when risk is underpriced is known as moral hazard.  When politicians decide that private insurance premiums are too high, as with houses built in flood plains, the solution is to under price the risk through federal subsidies.  The obvious and expected outcome is more danger to life and limb when disaster strikes. 
Even NFIP has been forced to raise rates significantly in coastal areas, and is now dropping second homes from coverage altogether, 

Many assume it is compassionate to entrust government central planners with disaster recovery.  However, the greatest compassion brings results, not just good intentions.  And we’ve seen how bureaucratic organizations like FEMA mismanaged recovery and relief in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Ike.  Organizations such as the Red Cross and private companies like Home Depot and Duracell have already stepped in admirably to help those in need, and we can only hope FEMA has learned this time not to impede and frustrate private efforts as they have in the past.

Above all, my thoughts and prayers are with the victims of Hurricane Sandy in this tremendously difficult time and hope they can get their lives put back together as quickly and seamlessly as possible.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Vote Choice

"Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost."

-John Quincy Adams
"Constantly choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil."

- Jerry Garcia

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Crisis in American Public Schools

by Josh Krab

There is an inordinate problem that has been growing in the United States. Students in our public schools are showing a lack of interest in modern methods of education and high school graduates are starting our in life with a weak foundation in knowledge and skills that will move them forward in life. Most students in the U.S. are manufactured through the factory line of public schools. These schools teach students to obey orders and to respond to the school bell like animals. Students are assigned loads of homework which gives them no time to bond with the family or pursue an interest that they enjoy. All they have learned is to memorize facts in history that really have no meaning to them, use formulas that they will probably never use in life again, and study subjects that they have absolutely no interest in pursuing farther. We must take a new approach to teaching our children by teaching them the skills they are interested in pursuing and that will bring them success in life.

Government officials have tried solving these problems by dumping more money into public education but have failed. The problems have only gotten worse. In 2008, public schools in Washington D.C. spent about $24, 600 per child. Comparatively, total spending per pupil in the D.C. private schools – among the most upscale in the nation – averages around $10,000 less per child (Coulson).  Lack of money isn’t the issue in our public schools. We need a change in education policy that allows for students to pursue topics of interest to them.

There are many things that will help solve the problems in our schools and one of the greatest solutions is for schools to help students to pursue their interests in life rather than to force them to learn standardized textbook materials. Students want to feel that they are learning something worth-while in the classroom and letting them pursue a topic of their interest is the best way to allow that to happen.

Take education in Sweden for example. Sweden is a country known for its quality of life and a nation that beats American school performance in every academic category.  Children in Sweden don’t enter school until age seven and the total length of schooling is nine years. When students enroll in Swedish schools, the authorities ask three questions: (1) Why do you want to go to this school? (2) What do you want to gain from the experience? (3) What are you interested in? They listen to the answers (Gatto).

These are the types of questions we need to ask here in the U.S. schools. We need to get a greater understanding of what our students really want to learn, and help them achieve the education they desire. Education in the United States should not be about conforming to the standards of the government but rather about pursuing your own interests starting at a young age.

Another improvement we can make in our schools is to teach lessons that are relevant to the students’ lives. Learning that the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7th 1941 has absolutely no meaning or relevancy to a student in 7th grade. Yes, the lessons of history are important, but their importance lies in how those events that happened years ago are affecting us today. The dates in history are not important to learn. It is the lessons that we learn from the events in history that are important. We must teach the lessons of history rather than the dates of history in order to provide relevancy to our students.

The public school machine may turn out many graduates but these graduates are hardly equipped for a flourishing start in life. Students are taught many things that they will never use in their lifetime. Knowledge on how a plant transports nutrients from the ground to the different parts of a tree may be useful to a student who wants to pursue horticulture, yet this information will be of no help to the student who wants to pursue music.

Ironically, those topics that all students will use in their lifetimes are hardly ever mentioned in school. Instead of teaching about the geological differences between the Sierra Mountains and the Sahara dessert we should teach our students how to successfully manage finances. Managing finances is something that every student will encounter in their lifetime and the skills associated will prepare a student for success in the world ahead of them.

Life skills are also very important things to learn and should be emphasized in our schools. Teaching life skills is another way to provide relevancy to students. Maintaining a school vegetable garden is a fun and exciting way for children not only to learn the skills associated with working a garden but also the science involved. This allows students to be a part of science rather than just read about it in a text book.

The solutions discussed so far have to do with public school reform but there are steps that parents can take themselves to give their children an education that will be worthwhile and relevant to their children’s lives.   
 Taking your children out of public school and putting them into an alternative is certainly the best way to give children a quality education. Private schooling, charter schooling, or home schooling are great alternatives to public education. Tax credits and school vouchers are available in many states for people who want to remove their children from government-run public schools and place them in alternative institution.

Home schooling is one of the greatest ways for children to get a good, solid education that will give them skills they can immediately use in life. It allows for children to pursue their dreams without having standard education getting in their way. Many students who are home schooled look forward to learning and are very eager about pursuing topics of their choice further than even the high school level. Home schooling allows students to learn at their own pace, not forcing them to memorize things that they will only forget as soon as they graduate. It gives children more time with their family, and enables them to keep a close relationship with their siblings.

There are nearly two million students in the United States who are home schooled. (Stats & Facts) On average, these students out perform public school students in every aspect of schooling. A 1997 study by Dr. Brian Ray of the National Home Education Research Institute found that home schooled students excelled on nationally-normed standardized achievement tests. On average, home schoolers outperformed the public school peers by 30 to 37 percentile points across all subjects.(HSLDA)

According to research conducted by NHERI, a parent’s education level did not appear to affect the performance of children in home school settings. Students taught at home by mothers who never finished high school scored a full 55 percentile points higher than public students from families of comparable educational backgrounds. In his 1999 study, Dr. Lawrence M. Rudner found no difference in achievement according to whether or not a parent was certified to teach. For those who would argue that only certified teachers should be permitted to home school, this study suggests that such a requirement would not significantly affect student achievement. (Ray)
 Home schooling your children will enable your children to pursue their interests, supply them with the skills necessary for success in life, and also prepare them for a great start in college. Home-educated students typically score above average on the SAT and ACT tests that colleges consider for admissions.(Ray)
The problem with public schools in the U.S. is becoming increasingly revealed and more and more parents are responding by pulling their children out of public schools and home schooling them. It appears the home school population is continuing to grow (at an estimated 2% to 8% per annum over the past few years) (Fast Facts). This is a step in the right direction and it should be continued. Students don’t need anymore facts crammed into their brains but rather need to learn skills that will bring them success in life. Although school reform is a great solution to the problem in America’s schools, home schooling is even a better answer to this great crisis.

Coulson, Andrew J. "The Real Cost Of Public Schools -" The Washington Post: National, World & D.C. Area News and Headlines - The Washington Post. The Washington Post, 6 Apr. 2008. Web. 27 Apr. 2011. .
"Fast Facts." National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Home Page, a Part of the U.S. Department of Education. U.S. Department of Education, 2009. Web. 27 Apr. 2011. .
Gatto, John Taylor. "Confederacy of Dunces." A Different Kind of Teacher: Solving the Crisis of American Schooling. Berkeley, CA: Berkeley Hills, 2001. 64-65. Print.
"HSLDA | Home Schooling Achievement." Homeschool: HSLDA-Home School Legal Defense Association. Web. 18 May 2011. .
Ray, Brian D. "Research Facts on Homeschooling." National Home Education Research Institute. 11 Jan. 2011. Web. 17 May 2011. .
"Stats & Facts." Alliance for the Separation of School and State. 26 Mar. 2010. Web. 27 Apr. 2011. .

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