Apropos Austrian Aphorisms

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I graduated, thank the government!

I am now an official graduate of Iowa State University. Yes, a government public university. I feel accomplished, rightfully so, for graduating with a degree from an institution of "higher learning." My mother is proud of me. Am I proud? Yes/no. I'm proud of my hard work and intellectual progress. I'm not proud of doing it at the expense of others who were extorted to fund my education. I certainly did not feel  as proud as I should have during my graduation ceremony, which was an exercise in state idolatry.

The worshipping began fairly quickly with the "presentation of the colors," which was a 15-second staring contest with the American flag in silence. Following that was the chant of the country, the National Anthem. You know, that thing that says "the land of the free."

Following this, the student speaker was introduced. His credentials were staggering. He was a double major in political science and psychology, interned with an Iowa senator and worked with a lobbying group. What a great student, so eager to assist the State and lobby on its behalf to use other people's money! What a free land. And then the student speaker offered a wonderful speech that "said something different" with the usual platitudes about college life.

Then came the faculty speaker, head of the university's political science department. A man who appeared on CNN in NY Times Square, once! This was the highlight of the night. It was a 15 minute message of doom and gloom to the graduating class about all the ills of the world and how so many things are wrong. "We're facing a food shortage," or "oil prices are continuously rising," and a bunch of other things in between global warming and global cooling that our generation has to fix because we can't "take it easy"—and apparently make the world worse like his generation, "the generation of the 60s," did.

The highlight of this highlight speech was the plug for his own profession. "Politics is important because that's where decisions are made," he said. At this point I nearly rose from dozing off to shout, "You mean the market is where decisions are made!" I have always held a great disdain for the bromide that politics are "important because that's where decisions are made." My former news editor held to this profession, despite being a libertarian. No, politics is not, nor should it be, important because that's where decisions are made. Decisions shouldn't be made there in the first place; they should be made in the market, where real choices exist and where real voluntary exchange occurs.

There are some graduates who witness a moving ceremonial speech at their commencement. Those are the ones who will likely remember it for years and tell people about their riveting experience. Mine was not riveting, but I'll remember it because it was so filled with despair and the call for more politics. And I will tell people, as I am now, to say, "No! No more politics; things are bad enough."

But I lied. The doom and gloom speech wasn't the highlight. The highlight was crossing the stage, shaking hands, only to step off stage and receive a nice picture ... not in front of the university's logo or anything to do with the university. No, everyone had the great national pleasure to have their picture taken in front of the American flag and the Iowa state flag. All thank the state for our education! It could not have happened otherwise!

Other than the state worshipping, the ceremony was nice. I just wish I could've worn something other than a gown ... like those military men who were allowed to wear their fancy military clothes and received special recognition for their departments of military, navy, and other useless armed forces science departments. All hail the state!





Published Sun, May 11 2008 12:41 AM by thedo


# re: I graduated, thank the government!@ Thursday, May 15, 2008 12:18 PM

Congratulations on graduating, now go do something useful with your life!

by severin

# re: I graduated, thank the government!@ Saturday, May 17, 2008 2:02 AM

why did you go to a "government university" in the first place then?  Hypocrite.

by mdm4584

# re: I graduated, thank the government!@ Saturday, May 17, 2008 12:11 PM

severin comments as if pursuing education that culminates in graduation has not been useful, and also speaks without knowing anything else about my life situation as to fully judge my usefulness. How august of an insight!

I went to a government university in the first place because I heard it provided a quality computer science curriculum. I had also not yet established—was not even knowledgeable of the Austrian school—my political and philosophical views regarding government. To call me a hypocrite with an assumption that I began my schooling with such established views is downright illogical and stupid.

by thedo

# re: I graduated, thank the government!@ Friday, May 30, 2008 10:20 AM

I am sure you have done plenty of useful things while in college and even before you stepped foot on the campus. But education is normally considered preparation for a productive life. If you went to college in hopes that education would lead you to a higher paying job, then it means that you believe that getting an education will lead you to have a greater value or usefulness to society after that education is complete. I was just giving you a hard time, but as an example it is true that a doctor is more of an asset to society than a pre-med student.

by severin

# re: I graduated, thank the government!@ Wednesday, June 11, 2008 11:11 AM

private schools aren't really private anyway...

If you had majored in political science you would probably be a hypocrite

# re: I graduated, thank the government!@ Tuesday, June 17, 2008 1:05 PM

I know the feeling, but I have two excuses.

1) There wasn't any other university (in my country) offering majors in Mechanical Engineering when I started college.

2) Back in 1997 I was a convinced "moderate" socialist and it was only on 2003 that I converted to liberalism ad later libertarianism.

Anyway, neither do I feel fine about being a graduate of a public uni. The only thing I can tell to myself is that my parents where robbed many thousands of dollars that would have been more than enough to let me study at a good private university in Brazil. So I actually paid for it.

by gussosa

# re: I graduated, thank the government!@ Wednesday, June 25, 2008 11:11 AM

Seriously, your sarcasm is irrational but your rage is understandable.

It was a means to an end.