Saturday, July 27, 2013

Bihar Mid-Day Meal Tragedy

In India, few days back in Chappara village of Bihar 23 children died after eating poisonous mid-day meal food in their government primary school. The Indian government launched the Mid-Day Meal scheme in 1995 (the National Programme of Nutritional Support to Primary Education (NP-NSPE)) and one of the stated objectives of this scheme is to, improving nutritional levels among children! What a wonderful way of improving nutritional levels of children. Only government officials have the chutzpa to call their scheme a nutrition scheme which feeds poison to children and kills them. This incident got lot of reporting and attention simply because of the large number of deaths. Government primary schools everyday provide such stale and spoiled food to children in mid-day meals. I am myself a victim of this scheme so I know it very well (I was a Surat municipal school board student up to standard 3, and I have myself seen lizards and cockroaches in my mid-day meal). During my M.Phil. research I saw the same corruption in mid-day meal scheme of Bharuch municipality elementary schools in Gujarat (see my 2008 research paper). 

Notwithstanding the sad death of innocent 23 children, immediately after this tragedy, government officials started the blame game e.g., the Bihar government chief minister Nitish Kuman suspected some kind of conspiracy in these killings, and the opposition party BJP started blaming the ruling UPA government. These political gimmicks were well expected from the State, which is nothing but, as Murray Rothbard said, a gang of criminals, writ large.

What is more tragic, but again totally expected for those who understand the true nature of the State, is the response of State bureaucrats in the aftermath of this event. First, after killing 23 innocent children, these government schools instead of getting shut down, got an increased budget for this very same lethal mid-day meal scheme's efficient [sic] implementation in future (see here)! Second, there was already one government panel watching over the implementation of this scheme before this tragedy took place, but as if this panel was not enough for quality monitoring, they created another panel - with 20 new bureaucRats - above the existing panel! Third, instead of indicting the owner of these government schools where the mid-day meal scheme was being implemented i.e., the whole government apparatus, the government is blaming and indicting the principal of Chappara village school for this mishap! In fact, the criminal Union HRD minister, Pallam Raju, is calling for a collective responsibility, as if we all are responsible for this crime!!! All these responses are typical of the State and its bureaucracies. These thugs are all career politicians and bureaucrats. As the public choice school economics demonstrates, they are as selfish as any other individual in his private sphere. They are only interested in securing their political and bureaucratic careers no matter how many children/men/women dies because of their criminal actions. Thomas DiLorenzo very aptly said, in government, failure is success. That’s what I call DiLorenzo’s First Law of Government. When the welfare state bureaucracy fails to reduce poverty, it is rewarded with more tax dollars and more responsibilities. When the government schools fail to educate children, they are rewarded with more tax dollars and more power to meddle in education (Organized Crime, p. 9, emphasize added). And, DiLorenzo’s Second Law of Government is that politicians will rarely, if ever, assume responsibility for any of the problems that they cause with bad policies. No one group in society is more irresponsible than politicians (Organized Crime, p. 9). The mid-day meal disaster in Bihar is the clear cut exhibition of DiLorenzo's above cited two laws of government. 

On the other side, if this tragedy took place in a private school, government would've surely closed down that school. People must have surely blamed the free market capitalist system; they would've surely showed their hatred for the 'greedy capitalist pig educators' who run their schools only for profit. Also, if we were living in a purely free market private law society, any such school who kills its own students would've immediately gone out of business, and its owners must have faced very heavy legal punishments. But the State and its government schools are different. They don't have to worry about making any profit or staying in business because they receive their funding by looting the poor tax payers. So, no matter how many children will get killed in public schools, they will never shut down or the government will never go out of education business like in the private market.      

What is the Solution?
The only way in which we can stop such incidents from happening in future or at least  make sure that if such incidents happen (they invariably will happen even in the private market because human beings are not perfect) the culprits get punished for their crime, is by totally dismantling the public school system with all its phony schemes, and replacing it with a fully privatized education system. Notwithstanding the phony public good and externality arguments of the mainstream economists, education is just like any other economic good which market produces (see this). It can be very efficiently provided by the free market capitalist system. Free market education has all in-built mechanisms of stopping these kinds of incidents from taking place.  The profit and loss system of free market will ensure that all private schools provide best quality services to their students at the lowest possible prices. If some entrepreneur fails in satisfying the most urgent needs of his customers, then he will surely make losses and go out of business. This way all the inefficient schools will be weeded out of the market leaving behind only the best ones. Myriad of private schools means more choices for students; it means lower prices and best quality education. Public schools force a uniform curriculum on its students who are all different individuals. Private schools won't do any such thing. In private schools, the curriculum will be customized to cater all kinds of parent and student needs. And, if some parents are not satisfied with the given choice of private schools, then, they will be free to homeschool their children, which is either impossible or very difficult in the present system of government monopoly schooling.  

The only problem which our societies face right now is the belief or opinion of most people, that only government can provide education. This myth of public education is manufactured by the court intellectuals - public school teachers, university professors etc. - to keep the slave population in their slavery forever. As H L. Mencken said, The most erroneous assumption is to the effect that the aim of public education is to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence, and so make them fit to discharge the duties of citizenship in an enlightened and independent manner. Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all; it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States, whatever the pretensions of politicians, pedagogues and other such mountebanks, and that is its aim everywhere else. As long as this erroneous assumption infects public mind, incidents like Chappara will keep on happening. The day public will realize this public education con, their mind will again be free, and that will be the end of the criminal public schooling system.

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