Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Irony of Constitution Day

Every 17th day of September (or adjacent week day), schools across the nation that receive federal monies (to wit, almost all of them) must celebrate Constitution Day or face loss of their federal funding.
then search for "Each educational institution"

Don't get me wrong, I love the U.S. Constitution. So much so, in fact, that I find Constitution day, well, as ironic as that little ditty by Alanis Morissette. I'm not a Con lawyer (that's slang for Constitutional attorney, btw, not a redundancy) so I won't go so far as to say that the Constitution Day law is unconstitutional but I will assert that the Founding generation would not have approved. I know that because they didn't pass the legislation though they could have. In fact, they were almost all completely opposed to the federal government providing funds to educational institutions. J. Q. Adams tried and failed to establish a national university in the 10 mile square (Washington, DC). Thomas Jefferson established the University of Virginia because government funding of education was supposed to be left to the several states.

Do I want to see the federal government stop funding education? Of course not, dummy, I'm a college professor. But I would like to see the following:
1) the federal government to stop using its money, which is after all OUR money, as a weapon, even if it is for a "good" cause like promoting Constitutional awareness, because it sets a precedent that could be used for darker purposes;
2) more controversially, to stop funding colleges and universities directly. Subsidies should be paid to students just like Adam Smith argued, in 1776 ironically enough.

See my Fubarnomics for details.