Erich’s post about free college got me thinking: what if college and healthcare were both free? What if America’s college-bound population — the nation’s intelligentsia — could seriously consider getting married and having children at the same young age that the rest of the population tended to reproduced? What if America’s most brightest offspring didn’t have to postpone family life until after college or, for the very brightest, until after graduate or professional school?
I’ve touched on this subject before. When a population has no predators to thin the herd, evolution will not necessarily favor the smartest, fastest or otherwise best-equipped of the species; it will merely favor those who reproduce the quickest. Accordingly, to the extent that America’s economic system has eliminated predators and, worse, created a system in which the rate of reproduction is inversely proportional to intelligence, America faces a future that, over many generations, seems inevitably to create a genetic disadvantage compared to other nations in which this inverse evolutionary pressure does not exist — namely, nations in which education and healthcare are provided freely to everyone. We might already be witnessing the start of this process: citizens of many countries that nationalized their education and healthcare systems long ago are enjoying a higher standard of living than are citizens of the U.S. Indeed, if you examine the data for life expectancy and infant mortality (for example), you’ll find that many nations that provide its citizens both education and healthcare benefits (France, Germany, Canada, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, etc.) outperform the U.S.
We should always remember that the United States is a relatively radical experiment in democratic government, and one that is still in its infancy. Accordingly, we should never assume that its system of government, including its particular choice of privately- versus publicly-funded institutions, is necessarily optimal for human existence.