Wyoming is in trouble. Even after the governor’s $500 million budget cut, the state will still have a shortfall of almost a third of a billion dollars. Raising taxes is apparently not an option, so something else must be done.
Education represents about 34% of the state budget. As one of our leaders pointed out, we don’t need to provide a K-12 education that prepares kids for college, they just need to be prepared to enter the workforce — which makes a Swiftian solution to Wyoming’s fiscal crisis clear. Call it a modest proposal:
Eliminate public education in the state of Wyoming.
Now, I know we have this document called the Constitution, which requires that Wyoming children get an “adequate and equitable” education, but these are manipulatable words that our leaders on the “recalibration” committee are already finding ways to get around.
The end of public education would provide numerous benefits to Wyoming. First of all, we would eliminate the most egregiously socialistic program our state has ever known. For decades, our state has been rounding up children, packing them into brick buildings and forcing them to learn how to read, write and do ‘rithmatic. Some schools have even had the temerity to teach music and art. Of all our socialist programs — the police department, the fire department, the sanitation department, the highway department, the health department — education is by far the most offensive to Wyoming values.
A hundred years ago, children were not forced to go to school. Rather, they were allowed the opportunity to work in any industry of their choosing. Seven year olds could work 12-hour shifts in a cotton mill. Eight year olds could log 60-hour workweeks in the coal mines. Nine year olds could work in factories for 16 hours a day for less than a dollar a week. Those were the good old days — the days of true capitalism when government didn’t stand in the way of a child making a decent living and a rich man getting richer.
Communists in the federal government passed child labor laws in 1906, 1916, 1918 and 1933, but luckily they were all struck down by the Supreme Court. It wasn’t until President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1938 that these proud, hard-working children were pushed out of their careers in sweatshops and tobacco fields. After the abolition of slavery, this was the greatest blow to free market capitalism in the history of America.
Having been to Burma, Pakistan, Afghanistan and a dozen other countries where children still have the liberty to work, I can tell you they do an incredible job. On assignment for National Geographic in Cambodia, I met Aki Ra, a sapper. Aki Ra got the extraordinary opportunity to become a sapper at the age of 5. After the Khmer Rouge murdered his parents, he was put to work dismantling landmines and using the TNT to build IEDs. His tiny fingers could defuse landmines better than any fat-handed adult ever could.
I’ve seen children in India under the age of 5 working for the highway department, sitting beside the road with tiny hammers, breaking rocks into smaller rocks to use as roadbed. I’ve seen grade-school-age girls working in garment factories in Bangladesh — sewing all day, every day, no weekends, no holidays. Now that’s a work ethic we in Wyoming would be proud of.
Eliminating K-12 education would also have the salubrious effect of making the University of Wyoming and our community colleges unnecessary — which again, would save our great state hundreds of millions of dollars a year.
Another societal advantage of eliminating education would be to use the few children not working in mines or on farms as soldiers. Reporting for the International Committee of the Red Cross in the Congo, I had the opportunity to interview child soldiers and I can tell you they get the job done. Well-trained child soldiers are known for their courage, ruthlessness and equanimous violence. They know how to control a civilian population, especially an educated population that naively believes in rational discussion. The children of eastern Congo call an AK-47 “The Answer.” As one 11-year-old soldier in Goma told me, “with this,” he swung the barrel of his machine gun at my chest, “I can get anything I want — food, weed, girls, cigarettes.”
Of course we would need a few people who were educated to run the state, but these could be drawn exclusively from the wealthy class. This is the way it used to be — wealthy kids went to private schools and poor kids went to work. That workforce provided the labor for the companies and factories owned by the wealthy.
In short, the sooner we recognize that education is a waste of time for Wyoming children and a waste of money for the good taxpayers of this state, the sooner we can make Wyoming great again.