Walter E. Williams

 The institution of private property offers the liberty-oriented solutions to both the school prayer and the smoking issues. I believe it's a parental right to be able to decide whether one's child will, or will not, say a morning prayer. Conflict emerges because of government-produced education. While there might be an argument for government financing of education, there's absolutely no argument for government production of education. Therefore, if each parent were given an education voucher to pay for education, those parents wishing prayers, or those against prayers in school, could enroll their children in the school that meets their preference. Thus, conflict would be eliminated. Of course, a superior solution would be getting government entirely out of education.

 Private property would solve the smoking issue. Suppose you owned a restaurant, and you didn't wish to permit smoking. How would you like it if people used the political system to enact laws that forced you to permit smoking? I'm sure you'd consider it tyranny, and I'd agree. But there's symmetry. It's just as much tyranny to use the political system to enact laws to force a restaurant owner who wished to permit smoking to ban smoking. The liberty-oriented solution might be to post a sign saying you don't permit smoking, and customers wishing otherwise wouldn't enter. The same principle would apply to restaurant owners who wished to permit smoking.

 I fear that too many Americans have contempt for the principles of liberty and opt for solutions that employ the political arena to forcibly impose their wills on others. If that's the preferred game, then those Americans shouldn't whine when others employ the same tactic to impose their wills.

Walter E. Williams

Dr. Williams serves on the faculty of George Mason University as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and is the author of 'Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?' and 'Up from the Projects: An Autobiography.'
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