Thursday, 11 December 2014

Scofflaws, Outlaws, and Unregistered Teachers

Government Monopolies and Guild Socialism

Back in the bad old days New Zealand's economy was more regulated than East Germany's.  Almost all human activity was governed by permits.  One had to have a permit to visit a latrine.  Virtually every occupation was a registered trade.  To practise one had to have the requisite qualifications and a "practising certificate".  It was state sanctioned, and state enforced.  This grand system was ostensibly intended to protect the customer--which it may, or may not have done.  In reality (deliberately so) the permit and certificate system rather protected the jobs of the registrants, creating huge barriers to entry for others.

It was illegal to teach piano to a seven year old, unless one had a permit to do so and was suitably qualified and registered.  To be clear, we believe that registration as a suitably qualified and educated expert to perform a skilled service can be very helpful.  But in New Zealand's case, the multitude of registers were "official"--that is, state managed or endorsed.  It represented a strangle-hold of antiquated guild socialism.  Imagine living in a society where you could only get a job as a software programmer if you were state-registered as such.  But those were the bad old days. 

Now many occupations and trades have voluntary, open-market certification systems and registrations.  They place the responsibility upon the consumer to perform responsible due diligence upon applicants for jobs or to provide a service.  Someone hangs out a shingle as an accountant.  It is up to us, the potential purchasers of his or her accounting services, to do some basic due diligence on the qualifications and experience of the touting accountant.  An efficient quick check can be performed when we ascertain that the touting accountant is a registered member a professional association of accountants and we can confirm on-line what  professional practising standards apply for membership. 

Some professions remain in the hide-bound guild-socialism model.  School teaching is one.  Ostensibly, one cannot earn a living as a school teacher without being a registered teacher--and teacher registration is controlled by the government--which admittedly is somewhat appropriate since teaching, education, and schools are government monopolies.  But the monopolist grip is a stranglehold.  It is forcibly imposed even on private schools, which are restricted to employing state registered teachers.  The system is a hangover from our failed "Eastern European" economic experiment.

It's not surprising, then, that the system is failing (as state run commercial systems always tend to do).  There are just on 40,000 state registered teachers.  But it is reported there are over 5,000 non-state registered teachers active and illegally employed in New Zealand schools.  That represents just over one in ten.  Yet we confidently assert that those flying-under-the-official-radar teachers are likely doing a great job--at least as good as your average registered teacher.  The state teacher registration system is a vastly expensive, overrated, and unnecessary bureaucratic boondoggle.  Even within the monopolistic state education system it is failing and without relevance.

But it gets worse.  All guild socialist employment systems were designed to protect those within the guild from outside competition.  Other suppliers of the guild's service were shut out.  It was an early version of closed shop socialism.  The best teachers in the world are those who know their subject thoroughly and are enthusiastic and passionate about it.  Many of those who are thus qualified will never bother to become registered teachers because they cannot be bothered with the arcane, antediluvian socialism the profession  represents.  They care too much about engineering, the law, literature, language--and so forth--to spend time complying with irrelevant educational qualifications and undergoing state registration.

All power to the 5,000 unregistered teachers who are teaching in our state monopolistic schools.   They are a beacon to a better educational future.  They testify to the irrelevance and inappropriateness of the present government monopoly and its guild socialism.  If teaching were a respected profession, it would be regarded as able to self-regulate.  The fact that teacher registration is just one more facet of a government imposed monopoly evidences most clearly the general disrespect in which teachers are held in New Zealand.

Sadly traces of our Eastern European workers' paradise still linger.

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