Should Anything Be Compulsory?

How about education?

classrooms in America and Africa

Compulsory Free Education

Where education is not compulsory there is less of it. Where education is not free there is less of it.  Where there is more education, there is more peace and prosperity.  So shouldn’t at least some education be both free and compulsory?

Many things are compulsory, and should be.   You are required to keep the peace — to avoid killing y0ur fellow citizens.  You are required to drive carefully.  You are required to respect the property rights of others.

Most people do pay indirectly for public education and the police who work to prevent violent crime and catch the criminals — through taxes.  But nobody is charged directly for these services, which means that the poor can still send their children to school and call the police when necessary.

Clearly teachers and police officers are necessary and clearly they must receive their salaries, but it is also clear that the poor need education and protection from criminals.

Sadly, these facts, so obvious to people in the advantaged countries of the world are denied in many other — perhaps most other countries.

There are other things which are compulsory, not the things mandated by governments but by nature.  People must eat, drink and find shelter.  Unless they receive medical care, they may sicken and die.  In all of the advanced countries some of these needs will ultimately, in extreme situations, be provided for free by the government.  All of the advanced countries have some form of social welfare system which will make it possible for them to satisfy these needs.  Perhaps not enough money to live in downtown Vancouver, but enough to live somewhere in the country.  All of the advanced countries provide at least some form of free medical care for the very poor, even the United States of America, best known for it’s compassionate support of the very wealthy.

So, some things should be compulsory.

Perhaps we should make a few more things compulsory.  I feel a deep aversion to such a notion but for purely pragmatic reasons, it might be a good idea.  Let me stipulate a few conditions:

  • They should imposed only by the democratic consent of the majority of the population.
  • They should be accepted as valid by the other nations of the world.
  • Except for the taxes which support them, these things should be free.

Given these conditions, perhaps some new things should be made compulsory. But which ones?

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