After a few hours’ aviating this morning, I listened to Q107 for some rousing music for the drive to work. During a break between songs, they interjected some recorded listener feedback, in this case responding to another listener who complained that school/child sports are sometimes taxpayer funded. I had to give my head a shake at the logic of the responders.

There was one guy who said “…it will keep them off the streets…”, implying that it is not individual parents’ responsibility to control the whereabouts of children, but rather that of anonymous mass of taxpayers. I haven’t worked out in my head a clear chain of reasoning to justify my intuition that taxpayer funded compulsory education is morally suspect for similar reasons.

There was another who went on a flight of fancy: “…you never know, maybe these kids will one day end up in the olympics, and become role models to all kids…”. This gentleperson lacks sense of proportion. The number of kids who will make it into any olympic event (should a decrease in corruption and funds keep the IOC alive) is miniscule. The amount of money spent entertaining all those kids in the mean time is not miniscule, and is diluted to near-nothing on a per-olympician basis.

Then there was the genius who opined that “…without sports, the kids will turn to crime, and that’s worse…”. This is a classic argument put forward by those who wish to fund various dregs of society, or those who read Dickens’ “Great Expectations” a little too literally. Unfortunately it is the very definition of promoting racketeering: the act of threatening violence unless money is given. This activity is usually ascribed to the mob, but the genius doesn’t see the literal correspondence.