Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

A national public service university?

This, described here, strikes me as a bad idea.

Centralizing the training of our "public servants" makes the creation of a bureaucratic mandarinate--a French (not to mention Chinese) thing, which ought to be enough to sink it right there--all the more likely. Do we want a bureaucracy even more "out of touch" than it currently is? Do we want one group of professors to be that influential in the preparation of our political leaders and public servants? (My fear, of course, is that such an institution would be quickly captured by the Left. Their students would comprise our bureaucratic elite, and be even more resistant to initiatives from conservatives in the legislative and executive branches.)

But even leaving aside this political consideration, a centralized bureaucratic training institution would to some degree deprive our governmental institutions of the leaven of diversity that comes from the fact that those who comprise it are educated at a variety of different colleges and universities. It is more in keeping with the "federal" character of our country to have our leaders educated all over the place, not just at a handful of schools. They reflect regional, religious, and ethnic diversity. In their education, they encounter, not just like-minded "future public servants," but folks who plan to pursue all sorts of different careers and ways of life. This, in other words, is the federal, republican, and democratic way of educating leaders.

I am, of course, sensitive to one issue that the plan’s proponents raise: it’s harder for students to enter into "public service" if they have a high debt load. But that can be handled either through a program of debt forgiveness/repayment for those actually enter public service or by a well-funded (privately--Bill Gates, are you listening?--or publicly) program of scholarships. We don’t need, and shouldn’t have, a public service West Point, but we probably do need a public service ROTC.

Of course, it’s highly unlikely that such an institution would get off the ground. Surely Republicans would know better than to fund it. But Democrats? Hmmm.

Discussions - 4 Comments

I had missed this proposal. Your skepticism seems right, for the reasons you imply. The many existing public policy and internship programs would probably oppose it. The "ROTC" model would be preferable in part because it would be another step toward reducing the effects of student debt on career choice.

The stupidity of congressional Republicans should never be counted out. If the Dems want this (and they should), the "Republicans" may well give it to them. There are plenty of such examples.

You are correct in thinking that this is a bad idea. Remember when the African colonies were gaining their independence and all we heard was how swell this was going to be because all of the new heads of state were "Western-educated?" We all saw them form Left governments that turned into kleptocratic dictatorships. This is definitely not what we need here.

Left or right, the indoctrination will still be statist. America has enough statists, it needs more libertarians.

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