Did you know much of what our federal and state governments do is unconstitutional because the functions aren’t listed in the Constitution? Thus there’s no authority to do them and they should be left to the private sector.
What are some of these functions? Take Pres. Obama’s Big 3 of energy, education and health care, all of which aren’t in the US Constitution (1789). This means the Dept. of Education (started in 1980), for example, should be abolished, and no federal money spent on education.
Washington’s Constitution, Article IX, Sect. 1 (1889) states that K-12 education is the “paramount duty of the state,” not the feds. So K-12 is in our state Constitution, and thus, is a proper function of state government.
Yet, did you know that our state Constitution doesn’t authorize any funding for college in Article IX? So college is not a paramount duty of the state. And did you know that art and scientific research are not mentioned in either the state or federal Constitutions at all (except in the U.S. Constitution for protecting copyright)?
Governments should focus on their core functions and leave the rest to the private sector. That’s what limited, constitutional government is. Don’t get me wrong, I love art, education, science, college, energy and health care. But just because something’s good doesn’t mean government should provide it. Americans have forgotten this.
Even with state funded K-12 education, it could be privatized via a voucher system where state money follows the child to the school—public or private—rather than going solely to public schools. Article IX, Section 1 only requires Olympia to “make ample provision for” education. It doesn’t say the state must run schools, just fund them.
Vouchers introduce competition making all schools better. For profits, non-profits, art, science, college prep, and alternative schools would blossom to fit parent’s different values and goals for their kids, getting us away from the current one-size-fits-all model. Parents can pick their child’s doctor, diet and church, they should also be able to pick their school. Now only rich people can afford to pay twice (once in property taxes and again for private school tuition) to get their kids out of government schools.
Take food stamps. The government didn’t set up federal grocery stores selling government cheese, but instead gave citizens a stamp, or voucher, to use at any private grocery store.
Vouchers empowers parents, giving them consumer choice and the ability to vote with their feet. Now if you don’t like it, and you’re not rich, you’re stuck. In any other field, we’d riot if we had to patronize only the business in our neighborhood. Yet with schools, we take this lying down.
Governments shouldn’t do things not authorized by their Constitutions, period. And for government functions that are authorized, they should be privatized to harness market forces whenever possible. And if you want to change the Constitution, you must amend it, not ignore it. That’s the rule of law.
Jeff E. Jared is a Kirkland resident and attorney.