In 1807, the British Parliament were debating the Parochial Schools Bill, to provide public education to the masses.
It is interesting that the arguments against, and the solution, are the same as those proposed by certain power elites in the United States, and other nations, today.
“Mr. Davies Giddy rose and said, that while he was willing to allow the hon. gent. who brought forward this every degree of credit for the goodness,of his intentions, as well as for his ability and assiduity; still, upon the best consideration he was able to give the bill, he must totally object to its principle, as conceiving it to be more pregnant with mischief than advantage to those for Whose advantage it was intended, and for the country in general. For, however specious in theory the project might be, of giving education to the labouring classes of the poor, it would, in effect, be found to be prejudicial to their morals and happiness; it would teach them to despise their lot in life, instead of making them good servants in agriculture, and other laborious employments to which their rank in society had destined them; instead of teaching then subordination, it would render them factious and refractory, as was evident the in the manufacturing counties it would enable them to read seditious pamphlets, vicious books, and publications against Christianity; it would render them insolent to their superiors and, in a few years, the result would be, that the legislature would find it necessary to direct the strong arm of power towards them, and to furnish the executive magistrates with much more vigorous laws than 799 were now in force. Besides, if the bill were to pass into a law, it would go to burden the country with a most enormous and incalculable expence, and to load the industrious orders of society with still heavier imposts. It might be asked of him, would he abolish the Poor-Laws altogether? He had no hesitation to declare he would; for, although they relieved many persons, who were certainly objects of compassion, they were also abused by contributing to the support of idleness and profligacy; and he never could admit it to be just or reasonable that the labour of the industrious man should be taxed to support the idle vagrant. This was taxing virtue for the maintenance of vice. He concluded by moving, that the bill be read a second time this day three months.”
An educated population might not like their lot in life, would question authority, and question the tenets of the Church. Also, notice the attack on public charity at the end, voiced in the exact same verbiage as today.
Their solution was to turn public education over to the Church of England. Again, this solution of religion based education is pushed and used today in many regions.
It all boils down to whether you think other people have real worth, or if to you they are merely workers and a burden on society.