Actor Matt Damon Schools Libertarian Reporter on Education

Aug 04 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

Matt Damon

People like to criticize Hollywood stars as intellectual lightweights. They might wish to reconsider when starting something with Matt Damon. The star of the Bourne Trilogy found himself confronted by a reporter from, “your source for the best libertarian videos on the Internet.” If you know Matt Damon’s history of defending teachers, you can guess where this went. After informing him that “there is an incentive to work hard and be a better actor because you wanna have a job,” the reporter asked, “So why isn’t it like that for teachers?”

But she had miscalcuated, and Matt Damon made her pay for her presumption by giving her a Jason Bourne-style verbal slap-down:

Damon:  ”You think job insecurity is what makes me work hard?”

Reporter: “Well you have an incentive to worker harder. But if there’s job security – ”

Damon: “I wanna be an actor. It’s not an incentive. You see, you take this MBA-style thinking, right? It’s the problem with Ed policy right now. It’s this intrinsically paternalistic view of problems that are much more complex than that. It’s like saying a teacher is going to get lazy when they have tenure. A teacher wants to teach. I mean, why else would you take a shitty salary and really long hours and do that job unless you really love to do it?”

The cameraman then chimed in with a remark that made his reporter colleague seem brilliant by comparison:

“Aren’t 10 percent bad though? Ted percent of teachers are bad?” When asked where he got that information he defended himself with “Ten percent of people in any profession  maybe should think of something else.”

Which sets Matt Damon up for the delivery of the zinger of the day:

“Well okay, but I mean, maybe you’re a shitty cameraman, I don’t know…”

Libertarians have a very backward view of education. According to the 2010 Libertarian Platform:

Education, like any other service, is best provided by the free market, achieving greater quality and efficiency with more diversity of choice. Schools should be managed locally to achieve greater accountability and parental involvement. Recognizing that the education of children is inextricably linked to moral values, we would return authority to parents to determine the education of their children, without interference from government. In particular, parents should have control of and responsibility for all funds expended for their children’s education.

Basically, this is a “whatever” approach to education. But education is not about moral values; moral values can be taught at home or in church. Children should have a strong sense of morality by the time they start school, assuming the parents have any themselves.

Education is about preparing our children to live in a modern industrial society which depends heavily on the sciences. If we let parents determine at their whim what their children get taught (if anything at all, given the education level of many parents) where will that leave our children and our future? One of the important facets of the American dream is the hope that a child can surpass his parents in accomplishment. This is the hope of many parents. Clearly, a parent cannot teach a child what the parent does not know, and most of us are not equipped in any sense to be effective teachers. This is why teachers go to college to learn to become teachers.

Taking the government out of education by shutting down the Department of Education would undo everything the European Enlightenment, and by extension, our Founding Fathers, did for us in this country. They, at least, recognized the importance of education – indeed, they recognized the importance of government, something Libertarians and Tea Partiers do not. Destroying our educational system will leave the United States and its people ill-prepared to cope in a modern world full of people who do have a proper education and the benefit of a functioning central government.

That’s not the future I want for my children.



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