Destroying Your Child To Save a Buck

On May 26, my article, “Whining Parents,” was published on this website. The article reproduced published statements on a website regarding parents’ disgust with the “one test and you pass” policy of the Gwinnett County, Georgia middle schools. The parents all reported that they fought with their children about doing their homework, when it was obvious that their children were rational. The kids knew they would pass the exam without doing their homework. So, why do homework?

The posted statements indicated that these battles had already taken place, and the kids had won. The parents expressed frustration that they could not persuade their children of what was clearly parental nonsense, given the system of school sanctions, namely, that “extra credit” which did not count — homework — was worth doing. It was clear that the parents knew the school’s system of sanctions was undermining their children’s commitment to hard work. Yet all they did was to argue with their children to ignore the sanctions.

My point was this: the parents were not ignoring the education system’s sanctions, namely, to tax parents and then offer “free” education for their children. The parents bit — hook, line, and stinker. The parents were no more willing to pull their kids out of the public schools, despite the morally corrosive effect of the schools’ academic sanctions, than their children were willing to do homework that would not count.

I also fully understand that I have about as much chance of persuading them to ignore the local school system’s sanctions and pull their kids out of the schools as they had of persuading their children to do homework.

What was clear was this: those parents had sent their children into a bureaucratic, socialistic, taxpayer-funded nut house. The nut house’s policies were visibly eroding their children’s sense of an obligation to work hard. Yet only one parent planned to pull her child out of the nut house. Who, then, were truly immoral: the administrators or the parents?

The bureaucrats were acting as socialistic bureaucrats are paid to act: to feather their own nests, to work less for the pay they were getting. They were teaching the children this principle. The children were taking to it like ducks take to water — or parents take to free tuition. The educators in Gwinnett County are acting in a self-interested way — just as economics teaches that all people do. So were their students. Yet the parents expressed dismay.

On-line dismay is cheap. Private school tuition isn’t. The parents did not pull their kids out. They knew that the system was corrupting their children, yet they refused to take action to protect their children.

This is why the tax-funded schools have been winning the war on the typical family. The parents have been bought off.


By 6:22 a.m., I had a letter in my email box from a defender of these parents. This, you understand, comes from a woman who reads LRC early in the morning. This is not from some run-of-the-mill defender of the public schools. The letter begins with the right of parents to complain.

I think you are being a little harsh towards parents. Parents pay taxes to support their local school system, so they have the right to complain if the schools are doing stupid things that hinder their childs learning.

I am convinced that if there were tax-funded prostitution-training for pre-teens to which the state required compulsory attendance, there would be defenders who would write a letter saying that parents have every right to complain about these vocational schools, as taxpayers — after their kids had graduated from the middle-school-dalliance program and had moved on to the big time. Give the kid an A, and some parents would paste on a bumper sticker: “My child is an honor student at Whoopie for Cash Middle School.”

Every taxpayer has the right to complain about the tax-funded schools. Every parent has the moral obligation to complain. But this legal right to complain is a separate issue from the utter stupidity of these parents in battling with their children for a year in a vain attempt to persuade them not to go along with the program from inside the system.

How seriously am I supposed to take a lot of on-line whining by parents who did not have the moral vision to pull their children out of a system that the parents now say corrupted their children, and who are now happy to send them into the tax-funded high schools? “Are we glad that’s over with!” they are saying. Well, it isn’t over with. It is just beginning. They will now send their kids into the world’s premier mind-altering drug emporium, a place where girls don’t even get cash for whoopie. If they are lucky, they will get a corsage.

The letter continues:

Most parents cannot afford to pay the high tuition for a private school. In most families, both parents work, so homeschooling is not a workable option. The parents you quoted seem to be the ones who are involved in their childrens education. I don’t blame them for “whining”. Maybe you can give them ideas what they can do that is proactive, rather than come down on them for whining.

I see. Because they have monthly car payments for cars they bought new, plus mortgage payments, plus a home full of furniture to pay for, they must now find a way to pay for all this. And the way they universally agreed on was to put their children at moral risk. “Let the kids pay for our goodies!” This woman read my article, presumably understands it, and now tells me that the parents of America have made a rational cost-benefit analysis: they live high on the hog, and their children can and should pay the price.

Both parents work. So, no home schooling is possible. But why do both parents work? To buy the things they want to buy. The question is: Who pays? The answer is: their children. And the parents prefer it this way. So does the letter-writer. There are tens of millions of parents who agree, which is why the public school system persists.

“Maybe you can give them ideas what they can do that is proactive, rather than come down on them for whining.” All right, here is my pro-active list. It rests on this principle: Find a way to pay for your own expenses without requiring your kids to pay by attending the local academic cesspool. If you cannot afford this, then cut back on your expenses. Do the following:

Buy used cars, not new ones. I have written how to do this.

Shop smart. Use the Web. Shop at Dollar General-type stores, which are among the fastest-growing retail chains in America.

Buy luxury items, used, at pawn shops for 70% off.

Sell your home and rent in a cheaper neighborhood. Use the money for your kids’ education.

Mom quits working. She buys the Robinson Curriculum for $200, once, and home schools her children.

To balance the family budget:

Dad takes a second job or starts a weekend business. No more TV.

Mom works with Dad in the home business.

The kids do, too, or else they take after-school jobs to help pay for their expenses.

Arthur Robinson’s kids worked from 8 until noon on their studies, six days a week. Then they helped him run their sheep ranch. Each child had a specific responsibility. Some of them worked with him in his biological research institute: The Oregon Institute for Science and Medicine. One of them built their metal research building — the same one who later earned a Ph.D. at CalTech in chemistry after scoring 800, 800, and 770 on the Graduate Record Exam. They put together the Robinson Curriculum as a family project. I estimate that they have sold over 30,000 sets at $200 per set. Do the math. Or ask your child to do the math.

Is this pro-active enough?


The letter continues:

Not that it will work, anyways. Our public schools will do whatever they want, because of the agenda of the globalists. It would probably take a massive boycott of public schools, with most parents pulling their kids out until they see some sensible changes. hey! thats an idea!

I see. So, if your kids are sent into a tax-funded prostitution training program, you should wait until somebody organizes a massive national boycott of the program. Until then, it’s your job to argue with your kid about how much homework to do.

This is the logic of collectivism. It makes morality a matter of collective decision-making. Until there is consensus, we are told, the individual ought to continue to do what others are doing, especially if it costs extra money to do things differently.

This woman really does reflect the present state of conservative political opinion. She reflects the attitude of most parents.

This is why I have gotten into trouble with parents over the years by arguing that their children should not be enrolled in the compulsory school system, that there are ways out of the trap. That is what it is, and why I hired private school owner Robert Thoburn two decades ago to write The Children Trap, which I have posted for free on-line. But I get little agreement. So, there is no massive boycott by conservatives or anyone else.

Nevertheless, family by family, there are individual boycotts. These are not organized. There is no national plan. There are merely individual decisions by parents, family by family. Parents conclude that it is time to stop whining. It is time to pull their children out. They are responsible for their children. They are not responsible for anyone else’s children. They do not imagine that the opinion of other parents regarding the public schools has any bearing on their moral decision. Most important, they really do regard it as a moral decision.


When your children are at risk, you must take evasive action, even if it means shopping at Dollar General.

May 27, 2005

Gary North [send him mail] is the author of Mises on Money. Visit He is also the author of a free multi-volume series, An Economic Commentary on the Bible.

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