By Thomas Sowell Posted: August 25, 2009 ~ 1:00 am Eastern © 2009 Many of the issues of our times are hard to understand without understanding the vision of the world that they are part of. Whether the particular issue is education, economics or medical care, the preferred explanation tends to be an external explanation – that is, something outside the control of the individuals directly involved. Education is usually discussed in terms of the money spent on it, the teaching methods used, class sizes or the way the whole system is organized. Students are discussed largely as passive recipients of good or bad education. But education is not something that can be given to anybody. It is something that students either acquire or fail to acquire. Personal responsibility may be ignored or downplayed in this "non-judgmental" age, but it remains a major factor, nevertheless. After many students go through a dozen years in the public schools, at a total cost of $100,000 or more per student – and emerge semi-literate and with little understanding of the society in which they live, much less the larger world and its history – most discussions of what is wrong leave out the fact that many such students may have chosen to use school as a place to fool around, act up, organize gangs or even peddle drugs. The great escape of our times is escape from personal responsibility for the consequences of one's own behavior. Differences in infant mortality rates provoke pious editorials on a need for more prenatal care to be provided by the government for those unable to afford it. In other words, the explanation is automatically assumed to be external to the mothers involved, and the solution is assumed to be something that "we" can do for "them." [READ ENTIRE COLUMN]Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution in Stanford, Calif. He is the author of 28 books, including "Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy."
Saturday, August 29, 2009