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September 27, 2005

The Great Equalizer

Education, as Horace Mann intelligently put it, "Beyond all other devices of human origin, is the great equalizer of the conditions of men, -- the balance-wheel of the social machinery." His argument is sound. According to Mann, educating the common man is the secret to success that progressive societies must understand to remain successful. In fact, almost every political, societal, or economic problem can be resolved by educating more people.

The public must understand politics. In order to thrive in a successful democratic republic, the average person must be able to comprehend the issues they will be voting on. Mann says that, "General intelligence can never exist without general education," and in the same way political intelligence can never exist without political education. Mann specifically addresses how, because of people failing to vote, some wars have been fought that could have been otherwise avoided. In the United States' participation in voting is in steady decline. America: The Book, by Jon Stewart comically gives the reasons for the decline as, "Monetary rewards [are] unsatisfactory", and the, "Game was on." In truth though, people are becoming disconnected with their political system. They don't think their vote counts. Without enough people voting, the precious freedom we to tritely speak of, is not being utilized. Mann says,

"If the responsibleness and value of the elective franchise were duly appreciated, the day of our state and national elections would be among the most solemn and religious days in the calendar. Men would approach them, not only with preparation and solicitude, but with the sobriety and solemnity with which discreet and religious-minded men meet the great crises of life."


Election Day turnout is associated to the number of people who are educated about politics and government.
Societal and economic betterment can only be achieved through education. Mann correctly judged that, "The…prosperity of State--its comfort, its competence, its general intelligence and virtue--is attributable to the education…which all its people have received." Even today, there is a direct correlation between education and starting salary, and the educated are more likely to start businesses and create jobs, thus aiding in the growth of overall economy. Everyone, from the CEO to the super market bag boy, must have a general education. As Mann puts it, "it gives each man the independence and the means by which he can resist the selfishness of other men. It does better than to disarm the poor of their hostility towards the rich: it prevents the poor." Understanding how the systems we live and work in function, is the first step toward achieving, "The greatest of all the arts in political economy," namely, "To change a consumer into a producer."

Educating the masses can solve every dilemma currently facing our country, be it political, social, or economic. The higher the percentage of the general public receiving a general education, the better. By law, children under age 16 must attend public school, but is that enough? As a society we should encourage the attendance of schools of higher education, for the fate of the economy, social standards, and political values rest in the hands of the educated.

Posted by DavidDenninger at September 27, 2005 04:42 PM

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