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Townhall: Freedom with an Exception Clause

Sunday, April 20th, 2014

It’s an old trick: make the exception clauses completely transform the principles involved.

In Colorado, a politician is trying mightily to transform the nature of citizen involvement in state government. She thinks she’s an angel, of course. But if you think of her as a devil, I’d completely understand.

Click on over to Townhall for this week’s Common Sense column. Come back here, of course, for a little more context.

For other recent Common Sense columns on Townhall, you can view them on this site, as well as on itself: click here for the index.

Townhall: Old Media Curses the Wind

Sunday, April 13th, 2014

Two American freedom fighters share April 13 as their birth date: Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, and Jane Jacob, my mother. Happy Birthday to you both, Tom and Mom!

There, you have read the ending to my current Townhall column. Why not read the rest of it? Click on over. Then come back here for more reading:

Townhall: A More Civilizing Education

Sunday, April 6th, 2014

Public schools are designed, in part, to solve a problem . . . that may not exist.

Click on over to, then come back here for a little more reading. Or a lot. It is up to you. It’s your education.

First, for links to the study, consult Wednesday’s Common Sense for links.

For a gimlet-eyed view of Horace Mann’s philosophy — peering behind the strata of praise heaped upon his reputation — try the work of education historian Joel Spring. In Educating the Worker-Citizen Spring: The Social, Economic and Political Foundations of Education, , Spring writes much of interest:

Mann’s arguments were based on his fears about how individuals would act, given the opportunity to elect their own governors. In calling for the teaching of a republican catechism, Mann was essentially saying that a republican society could function only if people acted the way he thought they should act. Or, stated another way, people could be free as long as they acted in a good manner and endeavored to do right. “Good” and “right” were to be defined by people like Horace Mann. (p. 13)

Much later in the book, Spring contrasts Mann’s idea of compulsory attendance and funding of public schools with the ideas from those on the opposite end of the spectrum, Milton Friedman being his primary example. What, he asks, about another area of possible government support, “free and compulsory eating?”

As [E. G.] West argues, it seems strange that contemporary governments provide free and compulsory education establishments but not free and compulsory eating establishments; there would seem to be more proof of the beneficial effects of diet than of the beneficial effects of schooling. . . . West’s illustration highlights the uniqueness of government-provided schooling in terms of other services provided by government. (p. 165)

E. G. West’s contributions to the economics of schooling and education reform are fascinating and important. You can learn a lot from reading West. But Spring seems more radical. His basic take? See chapter nine of the book I’ve been quoting from: “The major hindrance to the completion of the liberal revolutions of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries has been the rise and expansion of the modern school.”

Townhall: Their Solution, Our Problem

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

Some simple solutions are really complex problems in disguise.

This weekend, at, your Common Sense columnist expands on a very popular meme, covered earlier: that the federal debt is no problem because the government, after all, can just print more money.

Amazing. It’s like we, wow, never thought of that!


Click on over to Townhall, then back here. You know, to add your two cents (yes, comments really are appreciated). Or to click through to a few of the additional links, below. Just scroll down to Saturday’s presented video to watch (in case you’d missed it) the sheer bravado of simple-minded inflationism and insider hubris (that is, the video in question). There are a few links in the column, but here please find some more interesting reading related to the subject:

  • Interested in the tradition of public finance that is critical of deficit spending? Well, it’s a long history. You could start here: “Destutt de Tracy: A French Precursor of the Virginia School of Public Finance,” by Robert W. Dimand and Edwin G. West.
  • Just noticed that the above-mentioned essay is not where it used to be online. It must be cached away somewhere, but in case you don’t find it for free, try reading Destutt de Tracy’s treatise — as translated into English under the supervision of Thomas Jefferson, no less. Timothy D. Terrell’s  introduction is terrific.
  • Wondering about the distinction between inflation and inflationism? Try Ludwig von Mises’ Human Action, the chapter on “The Inflationist View of History.”
  • Wondering where to start with all the competing ideas in economics, about today’s economic trends, and much more? Try listening to Russ Roberts work at EconTalk. Great conversations with experts as interviewed by a conscientious educator.

Townhall: Their Right to Your Money

Sunday, March 23rd, 2014

Over at Townhall this weekend, the enormity of the Colorado insiders’ lawsuit against the voters who put them in office receives expanded treatment. Click on over, then back here. Comment. Share. Shout.

  • An Independence Institute report on the attack on TABOR
  • The ruling about standing
  • The original Common Sense piece upon which the column was based

Townhall: Targeting Self-Defense

Sunday, March 16th, 2014

The foundation of a free society? The rights of the people in that society. Chiefest of these? The right to self-defense.

And that’s under attack these days. For the latest example, check out the column this weekend at Townhall. And then come back here, for more reading.

The third citation, above, briefly and concisely states the classical republican argument about self-defense as the basis of government.

Townhall: Are You My Father, Mr. Corporation?

Sunday, March 9th, 2014

The most ludicrous suggestion of last week deserves a column this week (yes, it’s based on a segment of ABC’s “This Week”). Click on over to Townhall. Then click back here, for more fuel to your incredulity and ire.