Downfund, not defund - Granite Grok

Downfund, not defund

BLM is creating an opportunity where policing is concerned, in much the same way that COVID-19 is creating an opportunity where public schooling is concerned.  Each is an opportunity for systemic restructuring of an institution that over time has been turned, not just away from its legitimate purpose, but against that purpose.

And systemic restructuring is needed, since decades of experience have shown conclusively that incremental progress isn’t possible for either of these institutions.  When incrementalism is tried, every small step forward is invariably accompanied by several steps back.

Neither institution should be eliminated (defunded).

Both institutions should be reduced in scope (downfunded) to the point where they support their legitimate purposes — no more, and no less.

The purpose of the police?  The police are part of government, and the purpose of government — as stated in our principal founding document, the Declaration of Independence — is to protect rights by enforcing laws to which people have consented.

But very little of what the police do right now has anything to do with protecting rights, or enforcing laws to which people have consented.  Rather, the police are used primarily as a tool by which the majority forces the minority to go along with policies to which they have not consented.  Which is to say, the police mainly suppress the rights that they’re supposed to be protecting.

Note that this has nothing to do with racism, systemic or otherwise.  We don’t need to defund the police because they’re racist.  We need to downfund the police because they’re statist.

The purpose of public schooling?  The deal we make with government — as stated in Article 3 of the New Hampshire constitution — is that government can take our money only to protect our rights, and for no other reason.

But very little of what public schools do right now protects anyone’s rights.  Rather, public schooling is used primarily as a tool by which parents force everyone else to subsidize day care.  Where education is thrown in — almost as an afterthought — is it often used to undermine, rather than implement, the premise that government exists to protect rights and derives its just powers from the consent of the governed.

Note that this has nothing to do with poor performance.  More than 90% of NH students graduate, even though fewer than 40% have reached even basic proficiency in reading and mathematics, but that’s not the main problem.  We don’t need to defund public schools because they do the right things poorly.  We need to downfund public schools because they do the wrong things. 

What would downfunding look like?  In the case of the police, the essential first step would be to eliminate the ability of the majority to step on the rights of the minority by preventing ‘the state’ from making criminal complaints.

If laws against victimless ‘crimes’ couldn’t be enforced, most police officers would end up sitting around with nothing to do, and therefore no reason to continue to be employed.

In the case of the public school system, the essential first step would be to stop thinking of it as a system, and start treating education the same way we treat other necessary goods and services that people can’t afford without help.

The essential second step would be to stop talking about ‘fairness’ in education as if it’s primarily about what gets spent, rather than about what gets learned.

When you have a fruit tree that’s wildly overgrown, you don’t chop the tree down and try to grow a new one from seed.  You cut it back severely, to the point where it may seem like there’s nothing left, but what actually remains provides a solid basis for a future in which you get the fruit you want, without a lot of extra growth that you don’t need.

That’s exactly what we need to do with the police, and with public schooling.