Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Public Goods of Tatum O'Neal

An article published by the Ludwig von Mises Institute (Mises.org).

The Public Goods of Tatum O'Neal

By Jim Fedako
Originally posted on 11/24/2007
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I recently finished reading A Paper Life, the autobiography of the movie star Tatum O’Neal. I know, in a time of the ever-growing Leviathan, such a diversion is pure Hollywood puffery. However, tidbits of insight can be found in such a book, as seemingly inconsequential stories shed light on the fallacies of government.

As is well known, Tatum was born into a Hollywood family, destined to be a star. Though she received an Academy Award, money, and fame, she faced many personal hardships. While these hardships make her life interesting and worth retelling, they are not the reason for this article. Instead, I want to focus on one minor aspect of her life: Tatum is a high school dropout.

A high school dropout?!? Indeed, although that revelation is only significant in its insignificance. Let’s see why.

Education is defined as a public good. There is the technical definition of a public good – a good that is nonexcludable, nonrivalrous, subject to free riders, and, hence, only produced through government action – as well as the popular definition – any good where the benefits accrue to the arbitrary aggregation called society. Since the Austrian school has shown that no good can satisfy the former definition, we will set it aside. For the rest of this article, we will focus on the latter definition, as this is the one continually hammered into the minds of public school students and repeated ad nauseam by government agents, the mainstream media, and most economists.

The collectivists love to produce studies that purport to show that government programs are an investment. State-sponsored studies always show that coerced tax dollars invested in public education produce a positive return for society, as well as for the collectivists’ partner-in-crime: government. Raise your taxes today in order to fund failing public schools and the net result will be an improved economy and reduced government expenditures over the long haul. Or, at least that is the storyline.

The inverse is also assumed true. Reductions in taxation, while leading to reduced current government expenditures, greatly increases long-term societal costs, viz., reduced productivity, more crime, etc. In addition, whenever a child drops out of school before the state-mandated years of schooling, he or she becomes a drag on both the economy and society. So, based on this logical syllogism, Tatum O’Neal is now a cost that society must bear.

But, I’ve checked my accounts and have found nothing wanting. And, as evidenced by my willingness to exchange my scarce time for her story, Tatum has added to my life. In my world, she is a benefit and not a cost.

However, that is not the way the collectivists think. They assume that anyone who lives outside their ideals is a burden, and they have the equations, models, and studies to prove it. Though, based on my actions, they are wrong. And, based on my beliefs, they are evil.

My children are educated at home, learning that creationism is truth. Uh, oh, I can almost hear hairs bristling as many collectivists read that statement.[1] They will claim that my children’s understanding of the world will lead to the fall of science and civilization. My instruction is a loss to society, so government must step in. However, I’m not denying gravity or molecular structures; I am only teaching a strongly held belief of mine in an area of science that will always be subject to debate.[2]

However, I am instructing my children on the a priori truths of praxeology. They are learning that government cannot arrange society and direct its path in any manner that does not lead to socialism and slavery. They are learning that praxeology is nonrefutable; it is truth. This, I assume, is even more offensive to the collectivists than creationism. So be it.

The natural sciences are never to be taken as truth since future knowledge can quickly overturn current paradigms.[3] That is understood but never accepted by many collectivists.[4] It’s not enough to mandate years of education, the collectivists also want to mandate the outcome – they desire to indoctrinate. And, they do not care about the institution of family, as family gets in the way of the new order and the new socialist man.

Sure, at some level, most education is indoctrination. Even the a priori truths can be manipulated by those pursuing an agenda of state control – manipulated but never refuted. Because of education as indoctrination, it is the role of the parent to choose the education they desire for their children, regardless of whether it is my children’s homeschooling or Tatum’s no-schooling.

A centralized system of education always leads to an homogenized understanding of the world. With no one able to challenge the status quo, no advancement in science or understanding can occur. That is a true statement – always. If the market place of ideas is substituted for the approved ideas of the governing class, only the ideas of the statists will become education. All other ideas will be declared, by governmental decree, subversive to the collective ends. Those ideas will be banned as treasonous.

The movement of public education is always in the direction of greater centralized control over ideas and outcomes. Since public education is government education, it has to follow the same trajectory as government itself. That has to be so. Therefore, based on the majority’s desire for more interventions, beneficial debate and exchanges of ideas will be banned and the state will assume authority over the mind. This state of affairs is certainly not good for the public, nor is it a public good.

So, believing that society is worse off due to the paths chosen by Tatum and me is to believe that society has a right to intervene, with government its agent of action.

The next time someone places a government program on the balance, claiming that today’s expenditures will yield returns in the future, rebuke them. Rebuke them for robbing you at both ends of the candle. The collectivists desire to steal your tax dollars today in order to make certain that no more autobiographies such as A Paper Life are written tomorrow.

That Tatum is a dropout, only earning a GED later in life, is no debit to my account. That my children are learning creationism at home is no debit to anyone else’s account – excluding, of course, the collectivists who desire full compliance with their ends. Tatum and I are simply two individuals acting in our own best interests. As long as we agree that Liberty and Property are to be protected, with neither of us pursuing government control as our ends, our means are of little consequence. And, in fact, based on the division of labor, our means will support each other’s ends.

What a wonderful way to organize society.


[1] Of course, not all collectivists are evolutionist, nor are all libertarians creationists. And, many evolutionists and creationist have looked to government as the means to squash the other side’s views. However, since the current government curriculum includes evolution, I am simply singling out the collectivists who stand with government on the forced instruction of this topic.

[2] Not that teaching gravity and molecules as fiction would change the logic and require government intervention.

[3] Other than the a priori sciences

[4] See [1] above.

Jim Fedako, a homeschooling father of five who lives in Lewis Center, OH, maintains a blog:
Anti-Positivist. Send him mail. See his archive.


Anonymous said...

So ONE example of a woman born into an acting family making it as an actress condemns the power of a high school education. Interesting logic.

And now, society is not the loser by how your children were "educated", your children are.

Paul said...

I attended a 'town meeting' put on by State Rep Ted Celeste in one of the Hilliard elementary schools recently. Inevitably, someone said that we needed to be sure ALL the kids of society got a full dose of math (through Algebra II) and science if we wanted our county to prosper.

I offered that manufacturing jobs have left our country for China not because the Chinese factory workers are better than our kids at math, it's because they're poor farm peasants who will work for a few dollars a week.

I can't imagine a bigger sinkhole in public education than trying to get every kid to pass Algebra II. One of my kids is a successful music teacher who we joke went into music so she would have to count only to four.


Anonymous said...

That wasn't how I interpreted Jim's blog. I interpreted his blog as an indicator that a public high school education isn't a required element of success.

Your response is demeaning to Jim and Jim's kids. Simply because they aren't publically schooled. That is interesting and a clear indication that you have been "indoctrinated." To you, your belief is the only correct belief. All other options are bad options, regardless of their validity. You likely believe that any private schooling (charter, parochial, home, etc.) is a cost to society.

Your response has validated Jim's blog.

Anonymous said...

My comment was not a condemnation of home schooling. I have no problem with home schooling. My comment was directed at the content of Jim's home schooling. I would say that the Fedako children are the ones being indoctrinated.

Jim Fedako said...

Anonymous 9:05,

You are entitled to your beliefs, I accept that.

But, the problem is that many cannot accept their failure to make a sound argument and change opinions. Instead, they seek the hammer of government to mandate acceptance of their beliefs.

Can I assume that you fit into that category?

One other question. Given that -- other than math and pure logic -- all learning includes some level of indoctrination: Who is most suited to decide what is taught, the parent or the state?

Anonymous said...

Not at all, I think it is important to win the battle of opinion with sound arguments. However, I do know that no matter how much data and evidence is presented, one will never be able to convince someone on certain beliefs, evolution vs. creationism is an example.

What is sad is when those personal beliefs get forced onto our children when they really don't have a choice. It is not education but indoctrination.

As to who is better? Government by the parents is, which is what we have through local schools. We really have a lot of control and say in our schools. You don't believe that because your opinion is a very small minority in our community. The majority of the people here like the schools and what they teach and how they teach it.

Paul said...


I think the reality is that the best parents are far superior to the State in making that decision, but the worst parents are not.

What obligation do we have as a society to ensure that the children of those bad parents have the opportunity to receive basic education? Or is it a Darwinian thing where it is just bad luck to have bad parents, and only the children of good parents should thrive?

Jim Fedako said...


But is it we as individuals, or we as the state?

It is true the the poor are my problem -- very Biblical. But, I do not think that WE should force THEM to pay for anything.

In our not-to-distant past, the churches and individuals provided for the poor. Oh, sure, they didn't provide at the current level, but economies were not as advanced.

Today, we see an ill and turn to the state for the solution.

Do you really believe that Americans would turn their backs on those in need? And, that only through the state -- and the theft of tax dollars -- the poor can be helped?

I don't!

Anonymous said...

Indoctrination is when public schools teach evolution as truth. It is still a THEORY. I actually attended a college that taught the "theory of evolution" and also creationism. If tax payer money is involed why not show both theories? Sick of this

Anonymous said...

I want this theory to be taught in science class!


Seriously, keep science in science class. Keep religion in church. Creationism has no scientific merit and belongs in a comparative religion class or at the very least a philosophy class. I personally have no problem with teaching it. As long as every major religion's view of it is at least touched upon and that it's not taught in SCIENCE class.

Sorry Christians, but every other religion thinks that their version of the story is just as correct as yours.

Jim Fedako said...

Anonymous 8:47,

"We really have a lot of control and say in our schools."

Are you really this naive???

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 5:43...

So here's the rub..... In Olentangy, more than 90% of us ARE Christians, so teach your "Science" stuff, but also teach the Christian view/belief/theory of Creationism. This is whwere the "We get to say what you teach our kids!" part comes into play. A majority of us want it. So the few that don't want it can go to study hall that week.

Scientific studies have shown that Creationism is more probable than "Big Bang." No where has anyone found fossil evidence that would suggest Man was formed from a wet cell of swimming mucus (or whatever you believe) that transformed itself into a human over a gagillion years. Despite millions of years of fossil evidence, no one has found that Man morphed from the monkey. If we did and Darwin's theory were true from a macro point of view, then why do we still have monkeys? Shouldn't they be dead and only the superior human being left to roam the earth?

Net net is that there is NO scientific evidence that "Big Bang" created everything that exists today. That would be like throwing a billion piece jigsaw puzzle in the air and the entire thing landing on the ground perfectly in order.

Uh.. yeah... and you think that happened to the Earth and our Solar System, etc.?? LOL!

Anonymous said...

Of course we do. It doesn't take that many votes to remove a board member. It also doesn't take that much of a ruckus to get the board's attention as we've seen with reading lists and discussions of Lincoln's assassination.

We as a community has a considerable amount of say in what our schools are like and how they behave.

Jim Fedako said...


Board members can only be recalled from office for neglect of duty, gross immorality, drunkenness, or other misconduct in office, subject to a legal proceeding. So, I would imply that is it possible to remove a board member who doesn't vote your way -- that's impossible except at a regular election.

If you think anything has changed regarding the perverse books, etc., you are mistaken. Nothing has changed.

You, the community have no say. And, I make that statement as a former board member.

You can choose to believe otherwise, that is your prerogative.

Anonymous said...

I was referring to a general election and not re-electing board members.

I think the "perverse" books is a perfect example. A small number (sound familiar) of community members wanted a certain outcome. It seems the majority of citizens did not agree with them because they met tepid support.

If this was an issue that struck deep into the heart of the community, the board meetings would have been packed and letters to the editor would have filled the papers. Neither happened. The community wasn't upset and they didn't really care.

Counter this with the packed meetings and public involvement with redistricting where we have seen rework and modifications made.

The people do have control but a single person or small group cannot hold the whole community hostage or force their way.

Jim Fedako said...


Ah, yes, the collectivist spirit. Anathema of the founding American ideal, but the warm dream of the sheep.

Seriously, what is it like to live as a sheep?

Funny, when I would use the excuse "everyone's doing it,' my dad would say, "If everyone jumped of a cliff, would you?"

Here's hoping your landing is soft.

Anonymous said...

To 6:05
You are clueless about the "book issues". I happened to be one of the parents contacted by four Moms. They spoke to over 70 families before contacting Board Members and Dr. Davis. Two of those (70) families were ok with those books. That is NOT a small number of the parents contacted. The reason why you did not see a bunch of parents at the meetings is because it was taken care of. Did you not see the people who wrote editorials agianst those type of books? One was a former school board member.Go to the SAT web site and look at the books sugessted for college freshman. Not one of those books is there. College prep english my butt. Make it real college prep and look at CSG and Columbus Acad. book lists. If you want your minor child to read crap that's up to you, but in the mean time my child took the SAT in seventh grade and is being guided by Midwest Talent Search.
Sick or your crap

Anonymous said...

I'm always amazed at people who are afraid of books and the ideals they contain. I guess it is a good think that your kids are being guided some outside talent group.

Jim, I also find it interesting that you find society is nothing but sheep. I guess that does fit your political philosophy but I also think you will find it lonely without all the sheep around you.

Jim Fedako said...

I don't know about that. You sheep simply bleat the party line. Either way -- sheep here or sheep there, it's pretty lonely outside the fold.

Anonymous said...

To 10:57
It does not suprise me that you have no clue that Midwest Talent Search is run by Northwestern and they track the top three percentile of students. Equally not surprised that you would think that I am somehow AFRAID of books or ideas.The only thing I am scared of are idiots like you that think PORN is great reading not just for adults but KIDS! I suppose you beleive child molesters are being misunderstood by society. Keep voting democrat, it shows how twisted the thinking of you party is!
Still sickened by YOU!

Anonymous said...

To 10:57
Yep, I guess I am guilty of being afraid of the consequences of some ideas in some books being presented to developing minds too soon. Ever hear of Mein Keimpf? Do you think that would be appropriate reading material for oh I don't know let's say a third grader? Does it worry me that 9th graders last year were going to read about a high school student getting drunk and trying to commit an act of bestiality? Do I worry about too much too soon when those same 9th graders were going to learn about using a sandwich bag as a condom with no mention of safe sex or AIDS? Absolutely! Think ideas can't be dangerous? Why do you think there are hate speech laws? Your ilk loves those types of laws though, don't you? It's funny that the board certified licensed practicing child psychologist that I consulted and gave excerpts of the previously described book to thought they were inappropriate for this age group. This doctor also felt that it was ridiculous for a school system to come up with this as a college prep English assignment. She said that these kids are surrounded by sexual images everywhere in our society and what do we do- serve up more to them! By the way, this is not some crazy, conservative psychologist I found; I got her name from the district referral list! I bet your kids are the ones we read about "hooking up" with 10 - 20 sexual partners during their 1st year of college. You reap what you sow! Garbage in, garbage out!

Jim Fedako said...

The irony here is that when it was a small adult store of the edge of the district, the community said NO -- including the school board.

When the same trash is given to children, when children are encouraged by their teachers to write about their sex lives, when children are required to watch movies that would have been X-rated in my day, etc., the very same board said, "Yes! This is great stuff!"

10:57, Do you really think that a community -- that doesn't want an adult store since the store may harm children -- is supportive of the same nonsense is the classroom.

And, why do you want children who are not your own to be forced to participate is this?

Are you by chance a district English teacher?

Anonymous said...

I am not an English teacher.

Next, no one's child was forced to read anything.

Excerpts are very dangerous things. Snippets without the full context of the material do not convey the full meaning of the words.

As to Mein Kampf, I would have no problem with it as an advanced high school reading material to be discussed. Maybe if it were, the reactionary book-burning mentality of this district would become more evident.

I don't have any problem with my kids and they aren't "hooking up". We discuss what they read and understand there are issues in the world that we cannot shelter them from and its better to get them out into the open and talk about them instead of hide and hope they go away. They never do.

Books and ideals are not be feared, just understood.

Anonymous said...

10:29 AM
Understood? I understand that I do not have to read every issue of Hustler to get that it is PORN. Get you facts straight, it was a REQUIRED reading assignment, I still have the original paper. I have read everyone of those books that the school has tried to assign just so idiots like you could not complain that I couldn't possibly know the literary benifts if I hadn't read it!! I it looks like trash and reads like trash it's still trash.Here's s snippet for you "C.B. got so drunk at the party he tried to F_ ck the neighbors' dog", what context do you not get from that? Or how about "the Japs should go back to Japan with a N-gger under each arm." What part of raisist don't you get from that. Stop pretending the almighty book is always good!

Anonymous said...


I would propose "The Almighty Book" is good... but then again, I believe the almight book to be the Bible.

Ahhh... but that is one book the school can't force upon our kids. Seems it has too much goodness in it.

TO: Anonymous English Lit Techer, don't fear the good book of the Lord and the ideals it teaches! : )


Anonymous said...

I have a freshman student, and I, too, have read all of the books and seen the assignment; it was a required assignment, true, but the kids had a choice of books, so no one was forced to read any particular book that may have offended them.

Of Mice and Men also contains racist language and uses the Lord's name in vain. Is that a bad book? Romeo and Juliet is bawdy as all get out, but does anyone complain about that? The Odyssey has an excerpt called "The Lotus Eaters", which deals with drug use.
Why is it okay in "classic" lit the kids read but not in contemporary? Is it because it isn't disguised as well?
The reality is that the kids read a lot of classic literature in the curriculum that deals with similar themes, but people on this site choose to ignore that and harp on the one or two books ALL year that they find offensive, even if their child didn't read it.

I don't really expect this to be published, though, because it isn't what most people want to read on this site. Talk about tired and trite arguments; this site is the same thing over and over again. No one will ever change his/her mind no matter what side of the argument.

Jim Fedako said...

7:10 -

Red herrings. The issue is nonsense garbage -- aka Young Adult Literature -- that is not appropriate for children.

Why do you want such nonsense forced on children? The only thing I can figure is that some folks experience a purulent enjoyment when they know children are being exposed to such stuff.

Isn't it just a little bit creepy that an adult woman wants to discuss this stuff with young teens? Not to mention the adult who writes such nonsense for children. What's going on in their heads?

In the not-to-distant past, such activities were considered vile. But, alas, today, folks like you call it education.

Let me suggest a couple websites that cater to your pleasures: Try NEA's website, or any of the school library associations websites. These folks have agenda's aligned with your views.

Anonymous said...

They are not red herrings at all; the writer posted the concern about racist language, and it is also in a classic text. That is my point. Should the classic be removed as well?

Jim Fedako said...

That's been answered before: No!

Now, answer the question I've been asking: Why do you want children to read the Young Adult nonsense?

Waiting ...

Anonymous said...

To 710,
Again you are wrong. There was no list of aternative books on the original book assingment in question, I'll be happy to fax you a copy.It also has the original description of the book with no mention of adult material, in fact it states that it is COMEDY. I got a list of alternatives only after (I know these people personally) several dozen parents called and told Mr. Gordon that they objected to that book. Otherwise no choices would have been given.You are missing the serious points of this issue. Again, these books in question are not on "suggested reading list" for either College Board. Com (SAT) or 100 most-often-reommended works for college freshman. THAT is the difference between ephemeral popular fiction and timeless pieces of literature. And yes the classics do deal with many of the same isssues, usually not sex with an animal, getting high with your guidance counselor, abusing the handicapped, killing babies, picking up gay men in a park, impailing the neighbor's dog with a garden fork, laced with evey profanity like every womans' favorite word c-nt....need I go on? These may be clues to you as to why they are NOT CONSIDERED CLASSICS. Next point,there is also a school code of conduct that states "students shall not posess vulgar or obsene materials". But here's the real rub. In the same student handbook it states that "school staff may review computer files or meesages...be reivewed for appropriate content as well as vulgar and obscene content", but your kind never screams that you/your childs' first amendment rights are being violated for that! And for the final point that you missed, these fabulous pieces of great liertature are still available for your childs reading pleasure!! Just have them go to the school library and check one out because in the public library they are in the ADULT SECTION! So the one point you could be right on is the way "It's Disguised". Looks like it matters if is classically written or modern day trash. I am still banking the "Real Professionals"(listed above)opting that my child read those books to learn "life lessons" and be prepared for college.

Anonymous said...

Two comments:

1)I wish I had left high school (the state indoctrination center) early. Except for a few teachers who were outstanding, the rest were bitchy dolts who nearly gave me an inferiority complex. Only later did I discover how dumb they were. So much for home-schooling in my case though; my own mother is a public school teacher. Oh, the irony.

2)My god, Tatum O'Neal is hot !