Last Wednesday the St. Louis Post-Dispatch ran a photo on its front page that caught my eye — what it was meant to do. Maybe you saw it too.
On April 21 there were demonstrations in downtown Clayton — and Jefferson City — demanding that the state of Missouri open back up for business. The photo was of a counter-protester holding a poster displaying his ignorance.
It said, “No economy is worth more than a life.” At first glance, one can sympathize with that statement. After all who can argue with the value of life?
When you think about it, this message is absurd. If no economy is worth more than a life then we would never have an economy — ever. No one would ever go to work, because, let’s face it, people die going to work and they die at work.
According to Wikipedia, over 3.6 million people were killed in car accidents from 1899 to 2013. A headline on Bloomberg news last February proclaimed that “Traffic deaths in U.S. exceed 40,000 for third straight year.”
Clearly, the automotive industry is part of our economy. Since so many people die each year from car accidents — using the same argument on the poster — we should eliminate automobiles from our economy. Another way this could be solved is by limiting the speed of cars to a maximum of five miles per hour. That is absurd.
But, fatalities from car accidents pale in comparison to deaths from cigarette smoking. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cigarette smoking causes about one of every five deaths in the United States each year, leading to more than 480,000 deaths annually.
If no economy is worth a life, then no one would be allowed to drive over five miles per hour, smoke cigarettes, let alone go swimming, hunting, biking, running, etc. To be absolutely safe we would all need to live in a padded room and be fed by robots.
For everything we do in life, there are benefits and risks. In a free society — with reasonable limits from the government — everyone is allowed to determine their actions and how much risk to take compared to the benefit.
Without knowing it, the photographed protester would like to take that freedom away from us.
If that wasn’t bad enough, last week a Harvard law professor, Elizabeth Bartholet, authored an article about the “risks” of homeschooling children during the coronavirus pandemic.
Here is her quote that is creating the controversy, “The issue is, do we think that parents should have 24/7, essentially authoritarian control over their children from ages zero to 18?” Bartholet asked. “I think that’s dangerous. I think it’s always dangerous to put powerful people in charge of the powerless and to give the powerful ones total authority.”
Ignorance from the protester in St. Louis can be understood for what it is, a lack of knowledge or information. Bartholet cannot use that excuse.
This statement from her is pure prejudice against average Americans. She considers parents who home-school to be too ignorant and religious.
The fault in her argument is the belief that the government — which has ultimate power and authority — has more of a right to educate children than their parents.
Bartholet’s article seems like a plot for a science fiction movie where the government takes babies from their parents immediately after birth, raising and indoctrinating them to blindly follow the status quo.
The hero would fight against that and break free from his or her jailers to learn there is a hidden community somewhere in the wilderness where people live free from the control of a government. Where government is “of the people, by the people and for the people.” Where the government is created to protect the rights of people, not take them away.
A Harvard University honors graduate student, Melba Pearson — who was home-schooled — responded to Bartholet. She wrote, “It is deeply disappointing that Harvard is choosing and promoting an intellectual totalitarian path that calls for a ban of the liberties that helped me and countless others succeed, for it is those liberties and ideals that have made America the great nation it is today.”
“The idea that a government, already so inefficient and inadequate in so many areas, can care for and educate every child better than its parent is wrong,” Pearson wrote.
See this column on our website for links to the Post-Dispatch photo and more.