The Pros And Cons Of Public Education

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Are taxes that fund public education just? The United Nations’ Declaration of Human Rights declares that education is a fundamental human right and everyone should have access to free, compulsory elementary education (United Nations). On one hand, taxes that fund public education seem just because they aim to provide a better educational system for the community. However, these taxes also seem unjust because taxation itself is a violation of the right to self-ownership. Emmanuel Levinas argues that in order to live ethical lives, we need to care for and take responsibility for the Other. When this idea is applied to the dilemma of public education, Levinas seems to support taxation as it could help improve the lives of other people. However, …show more content…
Levinas writes, “I am responsible for the Other without waiting for reciprocity, even if I were to die for it. Reciprocity is her affair. It is precisely insofar as the relationship between the Other and me is not reciprocal that I am subjected to the Other; and I am ‘subject’ essentially in this sense. It is I who support all” (195). By completely devoting oneself to the Other, a person will reject all selfish thoughts and emotions. Selflessness is a virtue that Levinas favors and taxation to fund public education would help to promote this virtue. Everyone is required to pay taxes, and when these taxes go to public education, the government is promoting virtues by requesting its citizens to care and aid the education of others. From a libertarian framework, one might argue that the government should not intervene in the lives of its citizens, but this framework could result in a more selfish and less educated society as people are allowed to only think for themselves and the poor are denied assistance. Levinas might argue that people should donate all of their disposable income to a charity or source they support. In order to fully care for the Other, one must reject selfish emotions, and paying taxes to fund public education is just one manner in which one can support the …show more content…
Sometimes, unwillingly giving up a portion of one’s income can be justified if it will help to benefit a greater number of people. Everyone should have access to a quality education, and taxes are one way in which the government can try to ensure that all of its citizens receive this privilege. However, Levinas’s framework is difficult to implement as he asserts that we should devote all of our efforts to helping the Other, and, if taken literally, this idea could result in mass poverty as everyone gives up all of their belongings. As a solution to this problem, people should try to donate their time, money, or resources to helping other people, but they should stop helping when it starts to damage their own lives. Levinas’s ideas help to promote virtue, but they must be qualified in order to function in today’s society. Taxes that fund education are justified because they aim to promote equality of education throughout the entire population, and those living in poverty are not required to pay taxes, thus fulfilling a qualified version of the Levinasian

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