Quit Saying Public Please

by Ron Burkham

It is interesting how much power is in that one little word, “Public”. From where I am sitting, it is the word used to commit all kinds of atrocities in the US. The idea that there is some kind of collective greater good that can be imposed on people against their will is implied in the word. Private property is subjected to the whims of special interest group’s because of that word. Education and discipline are taken from the hands of the parents because of that word. A feeling of subjugation is implied in that word. What I want to do is take a closer look at “public”.

Public Schools

The idea sounds good on the face of it. But what it really means is “funded by everyone”. They really aren’t public. You can’t go down to you local elementary school in your bathrobe and go check out a book from the library. If you don’t have kids in the school you may get to vote for school board members, but you have little to no say in anything else that has to do with the system. Even if you do have kids in the school system you have very little say. This is the local level, the place were you should be able to exert the greatest control. But instead we see schools that run from the top of government down. And we get government results out of our school systems. We spend the second highest amount on education in the world, but rank consistently low on all scales that measure education.

We continually hear about how the “public” doesn’t get involved with education. How they need more money, more teachers, more everything, but truthfully, your input is not really all that welcome. We hear about our school system failing and our future falling further and further into doubt. The answer? More money, more teachers, more schools. If you have pile of crap in your front yard, does it make it less of a problem if you pile more crap onto it? That just doesn’t make sense to me.

There are some good and interesting programs around that are making a difference and doing things that seem to offer a ray of hope for education in this country, but they are not coming from the government and they never will. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation comes straight to mind. They have been able to go into some places were drop out rates are high, reading and comprehension are low and a myriad of other problems are evident in the system and to turn it all around. And, they end up doing it for less than the government spends.

We spend an average of about $7000 a year per student in the US. Private school tuition averages about $3500 a year. And just look at test scores and overall student performance between “public” schools and private schools and you wonder why we don’t just send all the kids to private schools, save about half the money and get better results. I know I wonder why.

Well, really, I don’t wonder why. The school system is run by the government. It is really set up less to educate students than it is to turn out “good citizens” who are used to bowing to government authority figures. The schools are more concerned with instilling what students will accept over what they know. One of these days I am going to write more on this issue, but for now lets move on.

Public Funds

When people talk about public funds or public funding, they are usually referring to a pool of resources gathered at the expense of tax payers. Lots of people pay taxes against their will and don’t agree with the programs they go to sponsor. That is the first three strikes against public funds and I haven’t even gotten into the concept of them yet. Of course, unless it is against citizens, the government has no idea that after three strikes your out.

So what about this pool of appropriated resources? Is it really public? That should be easy to find out. When is the last time you paid your bar tab with them? Never has happened has it?

Funds taken from the people are not public. Quite the contrary, they are more private than your own bank account. When you get taxed, the money is no longer yours. The goods or services the money goes to are not yours either. The people that pay for goods and services are the owners of those goods and services. When you buy goods or services, they become yours to use of and dispense of as you wish. The money you used to pay for those things was yours and you can logically claim a right of ownership over not only the funds, but the property you acquire with those funds.

This is not how public funds work. From a local perspective you can influence more control over were those funds go and how much goes to what project, but the further up the chain you go, the further away from the funds you get. And when you get all the way to the top you hit another obstacle. Just because you voted or were involved in saying where those funds would go and how much would be spent on the local level, the federal level imposes all kinds of restrictions on what you can do with them. Really, it is quite a racket the federal government has been able to pull off. First, they take your money. They promise or guarantee certain things in return. Then they take part of that money and keep it for themselves. Then they give a portion of the remaining money back and tell you how you can spend it. Its nothing more than a scam, plain and simple. Advocates of states rights, though they are booed down by the left as wanting to bring back slavery, are really upholding a higher standard of accountability to the government. The US government isn’t supposed to work from the top down, but from the bottom up.

Public Roads

I am going to go camping on Sixth Street. I will just put my tent up right in the center of the street. No one should care, they are public roads. Then I am going to start me a little campfire, make smores and sing Kumbaya. Ok, I am not really going to do that. It isn’t allowed. But maybe I will just sell the street in front of my house to someone else. Then they can own a larger part of the public roads. They will have a controlling interest in the road system, because they will own more of the public roads than anyone else. What? I can’t do that either? I thought I was part owner, that they were public and I am part of the public that paid for them. I must be crazy.

At least I have a say so over where they put the roads, that’s something, right. Oh wait, I don’t even get to say that. As a matter of fact, if the government decides they are going to put a road through my front yard, they will do that. If they decide they are going to put a sidewalk next to that road through my yard, they will do that too.

I like the idea and use of toll roads. Pretty soon, you won’t be able to come to Texas without paying for the roads you are using. To me that makes a lot of sense and I can’t believe anyone in the government went along with it. I am going to talk more about roads on a later date too, stay tuned.


I think it is imperative that we take the word PUBLIC and remove it from use anytime we are talking about government. Let’s call these things what they are, Government Schools, Government Funds and Government Roads. And lets continue that and apply it to everything that we have been thought to believe is public. Public lands aren’t really public lands, they are government lands. Public airwaves aren’t really public, they are government airwaves. Public buildings aren’t really public, they are government buildings. If we took the use of the word public out and replaced it with government, people would see how all intrusive the government has become. Of course, some people would champion that. Some people can’t seem to get enough government. They want it everywhere; even in the bedroom (unless they are having gay sex with underage kids, but that is another story). The left wants to work “for the greater good” and take my money to help out a very small portion of the population. The right wants to “protect my safety” by killing people I have no problem with and keeping people out of the country that I really like a lot. How about this, I will keep my money and if I see someone in need, I will help them out. Or better yet, I will give money to charities that help them out. And if I see someone with an AK47 trying to blow up my house, I will keep myself safe. I don’t need to give the government a portion of my money, so they can give me back less, to do things that I am perfectly capable of doing myself without them.


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