INDOCTRINATION? WHAT INDOCTRINATION?

Some teachers have written in, challenging my assertions about what currently gets taught in the government youth propaganda camps (“public schools”).

“I’m surprised to learn I’ve been teaching all this propaganda promoting the merits of collectivism or whatever else Suprynowicz accuses me of,” reads a typical missive. “I’ve reviewed my curriculum and I can’t find that stuff in there anywhere. I teach …” whereupon the writer typically inserts “English,” “history,” “algebra,” or whatever.

It’s hard to tell whether the open face of guileless innocence assumed by these scriveners is real or feigned. So I won’t try. Instead, let’s propose a small experiment which any curious party could undertake to test my premise.

Gather up any representative sampling of high school upperclassmen or recent graduates. Tell them that to defend our country, the Congress has decided we need a new fleet of aircraft carriers that will cost $500 per American. This is to be funded by an income tax which requires one multi-millionaire like Bill Gates to pay $2,500, five average Joes earning better that the national median paycheck to pay $500 apiece, and thus allows four guys whose incomes are way below average to pay nothing at all. Does this represent “everyone paying his fair share”?

I submit that if no propagandizing had been going on, the number of kids who respond, “No. Because everyone receives the same degree of aircraft carrier protection, everyone should pay precisely $500, whether they own a big company or live under a bridge – that would be their ‘fair share,’ ” should be at least as high as the number who endorse a graduated income tax.

We pay for most things this way, after all. If a bridge has a $1 toll, everyone pays a dollar – the toll-takers don’t demand more from the guy in the Mercedes and less from the poor fellow in the rattletrap.

Buying a can of beans at the store? No one contends it would be “fair” to charge the well-dressed lady many times the price marked on the can. We also pay for our highways this way – the excise tax on a gallon of gasoline is the same for Mr. Gates as it is for you or me, on the theory that all our cars wear down the pavement about the same.

So why is it I suspect you’ll find the collectivist graduated income tax considered “fair” – an enthusiastic chorus braying that everyone thus “pays their fair share” – by more than 95 percent of our current government-school graduates?

And let’s take global warming. Even if the Earth is currently warming at a rate of 1 or 2 degrees per century – I’m not sure it still is – the share of that warming caused by mankind and his industrial economy is less than a couple of percent. And the Kyoto accord doesn’t call for India and China to cut their fossil fuel use, or even reduce its rate of growth. Therefore, if America and Europe were to shut down our industrial economies tomorrow – throw ourselves right back into the Stone Age – the impact on the rate of global warming would be so close to zero as to make no difference.

If young people had not been endlessly propagandized on this issue, you’d expect an inquiry as to whether we should give the central government enormous new powers to tax “carbon use” and “carbon dioxide generation” – thus doubling our electric bills for starters – would generate a wide range of responses, including ridicule and disbelieving laughter. So how do you explain the fact that better than 90 percent of our sample group will almost certainly embrace any and all such recipes for increased central government interventions and taxing power – loudly and with enthusiasm?

What’s that? Our connection isn’t very good.

I thought I heard someone in the background shrieking, “The reason we teach them those things is because they’re true, you idiot! They’re true!”

Oh dear. Was that you, gentle reader, shouting that way?

Then – much as I hate to do this, you understand – gotcha.

Because the premise we set out to examine was the contention of a group of government-school teachers, wearing the face of guileless innocence, insisting they don’t teach any of this stuff at all – that they stick strictly to their approved curriculum of math, science, English and history.

To now shout “We teach it because it’s true, you idiot!” ranks right up there with the guilty party standing up in the courtroom at the end of the evening’s episode of “Perry Mason,” shouting “Of course I killed him! I’d do it again! Wouldn’t you?”

Trial over. Bailiff, release the defendant.

Why is it important to acknowledge the subjects on which our government youth conformity camps are indoctrinating our kids, sub rosa, in an attempt to create a near-unanimous consensus in favor of whatever power grab big government has in mind for us next?

The very purpose of indoctrination of the young is to foreclose such debate. Informing young people that something is “the theory currently held by most people” is a lot different from placing them under the impression that these memorized sound bites are self-evident truths, to be memorized along with the boiling temperature of water at sea level and the date of the Battle of Hastings.

For as Mark Twain warned us, it’s not the things we don’t know that hurt us – it’s the things we think we know that just ain’t so.

This essay was published on LewRockwell.com.

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