or other relatives to judge for them. But thisnremoves the question into a different category;nmaking it no longer a question whether thengovernment should interfere with individuals in thendirection of their conduct and interests, but whethernit should leave absolutely in their power the conductnand interests of somebody else.nMill, I believe, was mistaken in assuming that the commonnargument that parents and relatives can judge for theirnchildren was a claim for absolute control. What most peoplenappear to have in mind is a fiduciary power to be removed inncases where abuse can be shown. Education legislation cannin fact be viewed as part of a comprehensive system of childnabuse laws. Besides education, this system includes welfarenpayments to families with dependent children, stringentnrules about divorce when young children are involved, andnminimum ages of marriage. Child abuse laws, of course, arenalso designed to monitor, control, and discipline delinquentnparents who give their children inadequate food, clothing,nand shelter.nIn reflecting on this protecHve legal framework fornchildren, an interesting paradox soon emerges: only in thencase of education does the state go so far as to provide thenservice free of charge to all parents, rich or poor, delinquentnor not. Indeed, if child abuse laws were symmetric we wouldnsee laws for the compulsory and free feeding and clothing ofnchildren. I shall argue that while the usual child abusenlegislation related to the feeding and clothing of children isnconsistent with freedom, including the freedom of thenchildren being protected, legislated state education in itsnpresent form places freedom in jeopardy. The main reason,nit will be argued, centers on the removal of the pricenmechanism.nTo return to John Stuart Mill’s point that in the case ofneducation the laissez-faire principal breaks down because 1)nchildren cannot choose for themselves wisely and 2) theynare, in any case, without the means to do so. By the samentoken, the laissez-faire principal breaks down also in the casenof feeding, clothing, and sheltering children, because herentoo there are the same impediments to responsible choice byndependent minors. Yet while the laissez-faire principal, innJohn Stuart Mill’s sense, breaks down in all these instances,nit is interesting that states normally allow families tonpurchase food and clothing at positive prices and from storesnthat are in competition with each other in laissez-faire retailnmarkets. Where some families are regarded as too poor tonmake adequate purchases the policy response has been tonbuttress their incomes in some way. It appears to benrecognized, in other words, that the ability in a free marketnto change one’s food store when it threatens to become, ornhas become, inefficient is an effective instrument wherebynparents can protect their children from inferior goods andnservices in a prompt and effective manner. If this is so, thennone should expect that the same arguments for protectionnwould lead, not to a “free” school system where it isnnormally difficult to change one’s “supplier,” but in thendirection of fee-paying where it is easier to do so. Thosenfamilies who cannot currently afford to pay the fees can, asnMilton Friedman recommends, be supplied with educationnvouchers covering the tuition levels demanded in a competi­n18/CHRONICLESnnntive school system.nJohn Stuart Mill the libertarian seemed to have graspednthe spirit of this argument up to a point. As much as henwanted the protection of children, he did not in the endnprescribe compulsory state schooling, or even compulsorynprivate schooling, but only compulsory education. Mill heldnthat the state should be interested not merely in the numbernof years of schooling but in the results of education,nwhatever their sources. Accordingly, he contended that anpublic examination system was all that was necessary. If anyoung person failed to achieve a certain standard then extraneducation would be prescribed at the parents’ expense.nAnother sanction Mill entertained was that of making thenright to vote conditional on some minimum degree ofneducation. The distinction between schooling and educationnwas the same as that made later by Mark Twain.nThe public examinations Mill had in mind were concernednprimarily with the communication of knowledge.nBut many will insist that this is not the only function ofneducation. There is also a need for the inculcation of values.nYet dependence on state schools to attend to this needninvolves probably the most important danger to freedom. AsnHayek observes, “the very magnitude of the power overnmens’ minds that a highly centralized and governmentdominatednsystem of education places in the hands of thenauthorities ought to make one hesitate before accepting itntoo readily.” Hayek’s sentiments echo those of Mill, whonwrote in On Liberty:nA general state education is a mere contrivance fornmoulding people to be exactly like one another: andnthe mould in which it casts them is that whichnpleases the predominant power in the government,nwhether this be a monarch, a priesthood, annaristocracy, or the majority of the existingngeneration; in proportion as it is efficient andnsucces.sful, it establishes a despotism over the mind,nleading by natural tendency to one over the body.nDespite the warnings of Mill and Hayek, modern socialnscientists persist in what they believe to be the “socialnpurposes” function of education, a function that many ofnthem consider to be the exclusive province of government.nEconomists like to speak in terms of the “public” (orn”external”), as distinct from the “private,” benefits ofneducation. An example of the latter is the increased incomenflowing from the type of education (such as literacy training)nthat creates “human capital.” Such income is private to thenfamily and is accordingly “internalized” by it. Examples ofnthe argued social purposes or “public benefits” of educationninclude 1) the inculcation of common values that arenneeded to make democracy viable, 2) the desirability of ancommon educational experience, and 3) equality of accessnto education.nWith regard to the inculcation of common values, notnmuch is said about how to recognize them. And still less isnsaid about why the state should have the right to imposenthem on all pupils. But even if there was agreement aboutnwhat values were common, the question would remainnwhether the public school system is, or could be, efficient innthis enterprise. Even those who are sympathetic with then