Americans worship education. Perhaps more so the left than the right, but a great many people of all persuasions believe that the best solution to any problem is education. War? Education. Drug abuse? Education. Poverty? Education. Crime? Education. Racism? Education. Terrorism? Education. Don't get me wrong, education can be quite effective in treating some of these problems, but education alone isn't the cure-all that many people make it out to be.

Some have said that the solution to the War on Terror and the fighting in Israel is to educate the participants. If by "educate" you mean the almost complete tear-down and reconstruction of the Arab Muslim death-cult culture, then you may be right; that's not likely to happen through what we normally consider "education". Books, schools, and teachers, can change the direction of a society over generations, but that would do us little good at the moment. Aside from the practical problems of actually delivering education to the Muslim fanatics who hate us and want to kill us.

The idea that education will eliminate poverty is a myth. It will possibly work for a single individual, but there will always be a poorest 10%, no matter how wealthy they are. The poorest employed Americans live better than anyone lived 200 years ago, and yet we still consider them "poor" and debate about how to solve the problem of poverty. Education may raise the economic tide, but it will never bring everyone to the same level (thankfully).

Most drug abusers know that their addiction is ruining their lives, and even before they got hooked they knew of the potential danger. Would more education have helped? Perhaps. But it's likely that they made their decision in spite of the information available to them. They wanted to do it, and they did it.

Racism wasn't beat back by educating whites. The tide of racism and discrimination in America was turned by empowering blacks. I've written before that voting is not a right, but the power to vote can be a mightily effective tool for defeating real oppression.

Education won't make people do good; people are naturally evil. We do good things from time to time, but overall we act from selfish motives and do pretty much exactly what we want, even when we know better. Even if education tends to reduce violent crime (which is more tightly correlated with poverty, I suspect), I know plenty of educated people who lie, cheat, and steal on a regular basis. The Enron and WorldCom frauds were perpetrated by highly educated people; and don't forget politicians.

Education is a good thing -- heck, I'm working on my PhD -- but it won't solve all the world's problems. Sometimes people need to be forced to do what's right. I'm not talking about victimless crimes and that sort of thing; I'm pretty libertarian, and I don't think that everything I believe to be morally wrong should also be illegal.

Consider World War 2. Neither the Germans nor the Japanese were going to surrender until they were utterly defeated. We could have negotiated and talked with them endlessly while China was being raped and pillaged and the Jews were being herded into poison gas showers, and nothing would have come from it. "Educating" our enemies at that time meant firebombing their cities, and that form of education actually worked pretty well. The War on Terror will be won with a combination of combat and education -- but education alone could not do it. Same goes for the fighting in Israel.

Education is more effective at preventing problems that at solving them. Even better than education, however, is freedom. Free nations don't go to war with each other. Liberal values (true liberal values, not the values that most leftist Americans espouse) and democratic institutions are the best guarantors of international peace. Education and freedom are correlated, but not identical. Leftists in America use education to indoctinate children and make them dependent on government, for example, rather than assisting them to actually be free.

I'm not against education -- far from it -- but I think the matter needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Just because it's "for the children" doesn't mean it's going to work, and if it doesn't work it doesn't matter that it's more peaceful and nobody gets hurt.



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