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Instead of saying, “It is up to the citizen to use the freedoms he has to provide for himself,” at what point do we have to stop and say, “We need to take care of our citizens in a way they cannot take care of themselves.”
Perhaps, more simply, Organization is needed to secure the rights of people in a society. How then do we define those rights, and the attendant obligations?
Some issues are obvious, such as National Defense and International Relations, but at what point does it no longer become a federal or state issue, but a personal issue, and the goverment should not interfere?
The US already has overwhelming military capacity but should use it for defense only. Attacking significantly weaker countries (or any country) makes the US look more like a big bully to be feared instead of a partner in other world affairs (economic, environmental). Additionally, military spending dwarfs spending on other programs that citizens actually consider important (e.g., education, health care).
An additional problem with military spending, which is taken off the national government table by being called non-discretionery spending, is that it is not providing protection in the global economy. It is a replay of the French investment in the Maginot Line before World War I. The problem of managing security in the emerging global society will not be solved by applying the outmoded ideas of the 20th century.
There is much evidence that air power is relatively ineffective against non states. We have seen much evidence of this with the engagements in Afganistan, Iraq, and now in Lebanon.
Since the primary threats of the 21st century will come from non state networks of people on the ground, investment in air power makes less and less sense. Not because it is immoral, but because it's dumb.
The unfortunate by product is that over investing in old military technology is one of the standard ways that leading countries have historically disappeared from the world stage. Given the considerable economic pressures on America, this resource allocation strategy make little sense.
Resources going to the military lead to profits from some, but make the society increasingly incapable of dealing with new threats in an innovative effective way.
Without national defense, there's not much point to funding any other programs because we would no longer be a country. Part of defending ourselves is preempting attacks against us. You don't wait around until someone drops a nuclear bomb on New York City before worrying about who can and will do such a thing, then prevent them from doing so.
Additionally, it is fallacious to assume that money cut from defense would automatically be diverted to things like education, or to even assume that putting more money in things like education represents the best use for that money. In education, for example, the US spends more money per student on public education than any other developed country in the world. In an OECD study, Germany came in second, spending almost half what the US does. In the state of Virginia, spending per student is around $13,000 per year. This varies somewhat from state to state, but not by much. One of the lowest states comes in at around $7,000 per student per year. Unlike defense, where additional money spent yields a new fighter plane, new technology, or a larger military force, every additional dollar spent in education yields diminishing results.
It is the same in health care. Greater spending will not necessarily yield a higher life span, or greater health overall. There is, after all, that insurpassible barrier known as the human life span that no amount of money, at least now, can overcome. Spending an additional billion dollars on healthcare may yield one additional year of life, but the next billion may only yield a month. At some point, society needs to get over the discomfort of doing a cost-benefit analysis, and ask if it is better to spend a billion to keep a person alive one additional year, or spend that money somewhere else where it could serve a greater good.
A single citizen cannot adequately provide defense for more than himself and his family. A state cannot adequately provide defense for more than itself. Therefore the federal government should provide for National defense.
The issue is not providing defense. That is undeniable.
The question is Are we getting our money's worth?. Or is it possible that the ever increasing amounts are going to support an outmoded network of buyers and sellers that don't have the incentives to really fix the problem?
The problem to be fixed is making our lives more secure. While defense professionals are presumably focused on that issue, the recent results and the apparent lack of resources or effective strategies to deal with global threats seem pretty clear.
People are responsible for themselves, and there are plenty of systems for people to invest in that will get them far more money than social security. Many of the current issues are due to reliance on the government. Forcing people to invest in an inefficient system is wrong. Social Security costs $500 billion per year, and does not help the economy.
Actually there are relatively few systems that have proven their efficacy for a safety net for most of the population. If it were there, it would already be used.
While the stock market seems to have been a good long term investment, every professional will agree that if it is necessary to withdraw at a particular time, the risk is very high. The very nature of Social Security is the security that it will be there, exactly when it is needed.
The deal that is implicit in social security is that young generations will take care of elders to make sure there are not masses of destitute old people. Aside from the morality of the productive taking care of their elders, the social and economic costs of taking care of destitute old people could put extra ordinary financial and social strains on the society in the future.
The people in their wisdom have decided this is not a risk they want to assume.
In addition, if the rest of the federal government kept their hands out of the social security fund, the problems of the financial obligations of the system are, in fact, quite manageable.
With far too many people working long past retirement age, the average citizen cannot adequately provide for long term retirement for themselves. The federal government should continue to provide retirement benefits through Social security for those past the age of retirement. Due to unforseen life events, every citizen should have the opportunity to have a livable retirement benefit provided for them. Those whose income or personal wealth exceeds a certain value do not require, and should not receive, this benefit.
Not every parent is knowledgable enough, qualified, nor has the free time to educate their children on their own. Additionally, education does not consist of the transferrence of one static body of facts and one perspective from one person to another; diversity of ideas, debate, doubt, and discovery are essential to learning, and cannot be adequately achieved through one-on-one learning. While it is beneficial to many children to be home-schooled, it should be the government's responsibility to see that every child has access to a quality education.
Without a doubt government must nurture the environment that effectively educates our children. The issue is not home schooled,public schooled, or private schooled. The issue is defining a quality education for the 21st century, and making sure it is delivered as appropriate to every part of our citizenry.
There are many great public schools, there are many terrible public schools, same for private or home schools.The issue is not the form. But the experience that is delivered. It is reasonable that the particular most effective delivery system will vary widely - depending on specific circumstances of particular individuals.
For all practical purposes, all parents desire "the best education" for their children. But, as in most other things, one size defintely does not fit all.
If the purpose of education is prepare our children to live happy productive lives, old ideas have to be changed. New improvisations on the ground have to be found and nurtured so they can grow and eventually scaled, and new "business models" have to be devised.
If we don't fix this problem, the risks to our continued good lives in our cities become very, very expensive to manage.
There are many objections that people accustomed to the collectivist model of education level against homeschooling, almost too many to list, ranging from the purely utilitarian objections to the more philosophical ones. Most, however, don't stand up to the evidence.
Parent Competence: One of the most frequently heard objections is that parents don't necessarily have the knowledge to teach their children. The evidence speaks to the contrary. There have been many studies on this su bject, one of which is The Scholastic Achievement and Demographic Characteristics of Home School Students in 1998 by Lawrence M. Rudner, Ph.D, which among other things, found that "....at every grade level, the mean performance of home school students whose parents do not have a college degree is much higher than the mean performance of students in public schools. Their percentiles are mostly in the 65th to 69th percentile range."
Qualification: Similar to the previous one, this objection implies that only certified teachers are able to teach. On the contrary, the kinds of skills that are taught in the teaching schools are those related to managing a large group of students, a concern that does not apply to the typical homeschooler. Additionally, many critics of the public education model point out that what is being certified is nothing more than the teacher is versed in all the latest pedagogical fads, most of which have proven to be disasterous failures, such as Whole Language and Outcome Based Education. Fiinally, the same study cited above also found that "...controlling for grade and parent education level, there is no significant difference in the achievement levels of home school students whose parents are certified and those that are not."