L. Neil Smith's
Number 300, December 12, 2004

Bill of Rights Day December 15

Toward a 'practical, real-world, hard-nosed, get-your-hands-dirty' political education:
Part 2

by James J Odle

Exclusive to TLE

Part 1: Author's Notes: http://www.ncc-1776.org/tle2004/tle293-20041017-03.html

Part Two: Overview

When an opponent declares, "I will not come over to your side," I calmly say, "Your child belongs to us already."
— Adolf Hitler November 6, 1933
"The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all; it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed a standard citizenry, to put down dissent and originality."
— H.L. Mencken


There's a rather amusing story that involves one of the ancient Pharaohs and taxation. It goes something like this:

Seems there was this Pharaoh who was unhappy with the level of tribute he was exacting from his victims and when he attempted to increase the level of said tribute, he encountered — for once — a little stiff resistance.

So the Pharaoh got together with his royal astronomer and together they figured out when the next solar eclipse would take place.

On the appointed day, he went before the masses and said something like this:

"OK, people, this is your last chance. Now remember, I'm the Sun-God. Fork it over or I'll make the Sun go dark in the sky!"

Now, of course, the people pooh-poohed this arrogant fool, so then the Pharaoh, with franticly waving arms, said:


Then the moon came between the Sun and the Earth, day turned temporarily to night and the gullible people dropped to their knees in reverent awe and said something like:

"Holy @#$%$#@@, Batman! The Pharaoh really is a Sun-God!"

Where upon they promptly forked over the excess tribute the Pharaoh was demanding.

Now I don't remember where I first heard this story. Nor do I know whether or not it is true. Nevertheless, I submit that mankind's collective political IQ is not a single kilowatt brighter in the intervening millennia.

This is one of life's great ironies. We live in a world where scientists discover planets circulating stars in other solar systems. The laptop Macintosh computer, upon which this essay is being written, contains far more number crunching power than the prototypes that filled entire city blocks 50 years ago. Further, on average we are all living longer and hopefully better due to advances in medicine than our ancestors.

Yet where politics is concerned we don't seem to be learning anything.

The purpose of this essay is to begin the process of closing mankind's 'intelligence loophole.'


A convenient circularity

By now, the discerning reader should have deduced that this is an essay about education. To be more precise, it is about the total lack of a 'practical, real-world, hard-nosed, get-your-hands dirty' political education that is completely and, perhaps, deliberately omitted from government schools. To be even more precise, government schools are 'concentration camps for mind-destruction' as many libertarians like to say.

In the interest of full-disclosure let me admit, up front, that I have within my immediate family four individuals {my mom, an uncle and two aunts, three of whom are now retired} who have displayed the total lack of judgment in being government schoolteachers.

I do not find fault with them. They are themselves victims of a government education. After all, our modern system of indoctrination began when the socialist Horace Mann imported it from old Prussia in 1852. Further, government education is the primary method by which the insanity and stupidity of previous generations is visited upon future generations.

I would, nonetheless, completely and totally privatize government education today.

Gentle reader, let me ask you this question: If you were a socialist, if you despised rugged individualism and if you believed that the purpose of government was to be everyone's mommy and daddy and that the purpose of education was to train a vast worker army to service the state, and if people foolishly gave you the power to play God with the minds of their children, what message would be contained in your curriculum?

Here then was the message contained in the curriculum of my high school education, thirty-odd years ago:

"Life is scary and oh, so complicated! Further, there are all those evil, evil businesses out there who are motivated by {HORRORS!} — PROFIT! Whereas there are all of us noble, altruistic public servants who are here to look out for you and to take care of you. You see, if government allowed you to take some of the most important decisions — i.e. decisions involving 'education', health-care and retirement and others — why you might do something stupid and irresponsible! Also, you simply can't protect yourself from all of life's hazards! Therefore, it is a legitimate function of government to protect you from yourself as well as 'society'."

This message comes complete with examples of how corporations abuse people. Thus, government education, being an exercise in child abuse, yields a population that is dependent upon and subservient toward government.

This should be obvious, as the average American believes that such unconstitutional stupidities as Social Security, Medicaid/Medicare as well as government education are all good ideas. Further, he actually believes that without government intervention, he would be deprived of a retirement, healthcare and an education. He also believes that without government there would be no 'safety net'.

You see, it makes for a convenient, self-reinforcing circularity. We have an indoctrination system specifically designed by the socialists and progressives to train people into dependency — suddenly, lo and behold — {oh, gee, I never saw this coming!} — people are dependant upon government!

Come on people! It is not as if government schools attempt to teach something about rugged individualism. Nothing is ever accomplished without effort.

Missing from the curriculum

One of the main problems with this basic message is that it neglects to tell the other side of the story:

Government bureaucracies abuse people just as much as corporations do and with less accountability.

Do you know what the prime differences between corporations and government bureaucracies are?

1. A corporation can be fined and will normally have competitors and can thus be driven into bankruptcy;

2. Its officers can be jailed;

3. Government bureaucracies are not in any realistic sense accountable to us, on an individual basis. You see, for accountability to be real, it must be immediate. Any business school major is supposed to know this. You do it today — you're gone today! You're history — you're out-of-here! Voting is not accountability!

4. Government bureaucracies are protected by a legal doctrine called Sovereign Immunity — the king can do no wrong. Thus, when government employees abuse the rights of the American people, they will be protected by armies of attorneys — who will be paid for out of our tax dollars — who will then proceed to provide the public with all the excuses necessary explaining why the employees in question should not be held accountable for their actions. Two prime examples of this is the administration coming to the defense of Lon Horiuchi, the BATF, and the FBI hostage rescue team after both the Ruby Ridge and Waco affairs.1

5. Government bureaucracies will not make the slightest effort to spend our tax dollars in any way resembling a moral, wise and frugal fashion. Federal agencies will not inquire into the Constitutionality of their spending.

6. Government bureaucracies will not make the slightest effort to control their pathetic lust for power. In fact they will never believe that they have enough power. Each bureaucracy will attempt to take over as much of our lives as we will foolishly allow them to. For example, the FDA has been trying to take away all of our healthcare decisions. Government schoolteachers want to take over our education decisions. The DOT wants to put black boxes in our cars. If the IRS had its way, our paychecks would be sent directly to them and then they would give us our 'allowance.'

7. Government bureaucracies like any other human institution are motivated by self-interest and the will to survive. Thus government bureaucracies exist for the benefit of those in government and not necessarily for the benefit of the governed.

{Items 3-7 are examples of the type of thing we would have been taught had we received anything resembling a 'practical, real-world, hard-nosed, get-your-hands-dirty' political education. Each is also an example of political abuse.}

Government is the very embodiment of both power and money lust as well as irresponsibility. Gentle reader, if you're willing and have the stomach for it, you can read any book by James Bovard2 and find example after example of how government bureaucracies routinely abuse people.

Was the takeover necessary?

It is commonly believed — a belief implanted into the American psyche by generations of government schoolteachers with self-serving agendas and jobs to protect — that prior to 1852 the nation was simply awash with people with the brainpower of Forest Gump. Then the blessed socialist Horace Mann — to be quickly followed by John Dewey and others — came along and rescued the nation from intellectual neglect. Have we not all been taught that without mandatory government education parents, prior to 1852, would have their children working on the farm or in the factories rather than being 'educated' by government schoolteachers?

But is the popular impression that prior to 1852 people were stupid correct? Was the government takeover of 'education' truly necessary?

The rebellious, infamous, former State of New York Teacher of the Year, John Taylor Gatto, in his on-line essay, Bootie Zimmer's Choice3 severely undermines this popular misconception.

Here are a few choice passages:

...in 1818, 34 years before compulsion laws began, Noah Webster estimated that over 5 million copies of his Spelling Book had been sold? That's pretty good in a population of under 20 million...

A transplanted Englishman, John Bristed, wrote in 1818 that the mass of Americans excelled every other people in the world in shrewdness of intellect, general intelligence, versatility and readiness to experiment with untried things. William Cobbett on his return to America in 1817 observed that every farmer was a reader, unlike the European peasant....

...a frustrating puzzle for many observers, but no more frustrating than trying to explain how Thomas Paine's Common Sense sold 600,000 copies in the year 1776 to a nation of two and a half million people, about 70% of whom were African slaves or indentured servants. It just boggles the mind to see today's graduate students in political science seminars wrestling with Paine when young farmers whizzed through it with exhilaration over 200 years ago....

The Utopians

If, as Mr. Gatto states, people were perfectly literate and numerate without government education prior to 1852, then what motivated these arrogant Utopians to play God with the minds of other peoples children?

You know, there is something deeply troubling about people who go around with a complete inability to control the urge to run their neighbors' life for them. Personally, I believe these twits looked about and said to themselves something like,

"Oh my God! Parents are out there raising their children in ways that we don't approve of! We can't have this! To much freedom going on out there!"

As I have stated, these people were socialists and they believed that the purpose of education was to create a socialist society. They believed and still believe to this day, that if we simply give government enough power and money — when Democrats are in charge — Utopia will be achieved.

These fools despite their 'education' don't really understand politics, government, economics or business. Yet they feel this overwhelming urge to lecture everybody about these subjects. They actually believe that people  — particularly Democrats — can be trusted with power!

As far as I can tell, early advocates of 'government education' were working off a blending of two basic models of political reality:

The beehive model

We all know how a beehive works, don't we? First we have the queen bee and then we have all of the worker bees. And what, pray tell, is the sole purpose in life of the worker bees? Why it's to service the queen bee! Substitute 'society' or 'the state' for the queen bee and us civilians for all of the worker bees and you will completely understand this model.

Well, is not the entire purpose of your life to be of service to 'society'? {In practice, the word 'society' usually means the government.} Have not the politicians been attempting to force some kind of 'national service' {i.e. slavery} down the throats of people the last decade or so?

The parens patriae model

Advocates of this model see the role of government as 'parent' and civilians as 'helpless children' who are to stupid to be entrusted with running their own lives.

There are two basic problems with this model:

1. If we are to stupid to be entrusted with running our lives, then maybe it might have something to with the fact that the vast majority of us are 'educated' in government schools. This, in itself, is a primary example of why government schools must be privatized;

2. The 'parent' in this case is a lunatic.

Gatto's Last Word

For confirmation of the previous section, let's allow Mr. Gatto to have the last word. This is from Bootie Zimmer's Choice:

"...By 1889, a little over one hundred years ago, the crop was ready for harvest. In that year the U.S. Commissioner of Education, William Torrey Harris, assured a railroad magnate, Collis Huntington, that American schools were "scientifically designed" to prevent "over-education" from happening. Harris is dead now, so we can't ask him what he meant by "over-education," but we can make a shrewd guess because Mr. Harris was among the leading German scholars in the nation. The average American would be content with his humble role in life, said the Commissioner, because he would not be tempted to think about any other role. My guess is that Harris meant he would not be able to 'think' about any other role.

"In 1896 the famous John Dewey, then at the University of Chicago, said that independent, self-reliant people were a counter-productive anachronism in the collective society of the future. In modern society, said Dewey, people would be defined by their associations — the groups they belonged to — not by their own individual accomplishments. In such a world people who read too well or too early are dangerous because they become privately empowered, they know too much, and know how to find out what they don't know by themselves, without consulting experts."

In Part 3: 'What 152 years of government education has wrought' we will take a good hard look at are fellow Americans and see if we can discover any critical political thinking skills — any at all.


In addition to John Taylor Gatto's on-line essay Bootie Zimmer's Choice, I heartily recommend his books: The Underground History of American Education as well as Dumbing Us Down.

I also recommend Sheldon Richman's Separating School & State: How to Liberate America's Families.


1 James Bovard, "Feeling Your Pain": The Explosion And Abuse Of Power During The Clinton-Gore Years, Chapters 14-17.

2 The Bush Betrayal; Terrorism and Tyranny: Trampling Freedom, Justice, and Peace to Rid the World of Evil; "Feeling Your Pain": The Explosion And Abuse Of Power During The Clinton-Gore Years; Lost Rights: The Destruction of American Liberty; Freedom in Chains: The Rise of the State and the Demise of the Citizen are the primary examples.

3 Just do a Google search on Bootie Zimmer's Choice. It is located on a number of different sites.

James J. Odle is a splendid fellow who, unlike the vast majority of so-called 'public servants' has a real job in the private sector performing real work, which a real employer voluntarily pays him to perform. He is also a Life Member of Gun Owners of America.


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