Government-Supremacist Assumptions

You don’t need to be Sherlock Holmes with a magnifying glass. Government-supremacists are easy to spot by the bad assumptions they naturally make and wave around in public.

They’ve always argued over how to spend “tax” money; they won’t consider the fact that “taxation” is theft.

They’ve argued over what should be taught in government schools, but never questioned government control over (and destruction of) education.

And now they argue over whether it was the right move to issue stay-at-home orders and cripple the economy, but they never consider that no one has the right to do so.

It’s not government’s place to decide to shutter the economy to “save” lives from coronavirus or anything else. They don’t have that right and they shouldn’t be allowed to have the power.

It’s never an “adult decision” to govern other people (the political means) rather than letting them work it out for themselves (the economic means/the market). It’s the most childish thing anyone can do. No one should be allowed to make those decisions and decide for you what you will be permitted to do with your own life.

They also substitute government-supremacism for thinking in other ways.

If you are making the dishonest argument that to fail to sufficiently cripple the economy on account of the coronapocalypse is going to kill 50,000 additional people (or whatever your number might be), without taking into account those who will die because the economy is being destroyed, you aren’t contributing anything useful.

You can’t know how many the virus will kill, nor do you know how many will die from the effects of a shut-down. The number of dead from the shut-down could well vastly outnumber those who die from the virus, making the “net deaths from coronavirus” being tossed around a completely fake number. Any discussion of “net deaths from coronavirus” without taking those a shut-down will kill into account is– as of now– a lie calculated to limit the discussion to government-supremacist answers.

To pretend that someone has sufficient information to make such a decision, or the right to impose it, is to be dishonest. It’s what makes one a government-supremacist.

Government edicts and orders are the opposite of responsibility. You have the responsibility to not violate the life, liberty, or property of anyone else. Government-supremacy is explicit irresponsibility and is shameful. No matter who exhibits it or what excuse they grasp at to justify their violations. I have no respect for government-supremacists; they deserve none. They’ve worked hard to prove that.

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Are Kids Learning More at Home During COVID-19?

More than one billion students around the world are currently missing school due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Several US states have already canceled school for the remainder of the academic year, turning to online learning when possible, and other states are likely to extend their school closures soon. Some educationists panic about learning loss while children are at home with their families, and headlines abound about how “homeschooling during the coronavirus will set back a generation of children.”

Learning Outside of a Classroom

Rather than focusing on the alarmist narrative of what is lost during this time away from school, it is worth emphasizing what is gained. There is so much learning that can happen this spring, within families and outside of a conventional classroom.

In many school districts across the country, any assigned coursework has been deemed optional, compulsory attendance laws have been relaxed, and annual testing mandates have been removed. This regulatory respite can provide an opportunity for parents to regain control of their children’s education and expand knowledge using the abundant online learning resources now at our fingertips. Free from state and federal curriculum and testing directives, parents can nurture their children’s education and development, helping them to explore new interests, dive into self-directed projects, and reveal passions and talents.

Whether it’s taking a virtual tour of one of 2,500 museums around the world, listening to a live concert, learning in-demand technology and coding skills for free, engaging in livestream story or art time with renowned authors and artists, or just enjoying special, slower moments together as a family, this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to disconnect from standard schooling and discover how much learning can really happen.

Some worry about children’s learning slipping away during this time at home. Writing recently for The Washington Post, former Tennessee education commissioner Kevin Huffman notes the alleged “summer slide” phenomenon when students purportedly lose during summertime much of what they learned during the academic year. He suggests several strategies for combating the learning loss that he says will occur during the pandemic, including adding “more instructional days next year and beyond,” and “opening schools in the middle of the summer, lengthening the school day and the school year, or potentially eliminating summer vacation for the next couple of years.”

Does Learning Loss Occur?

But as I’ve written previously for NPR, we should be skeptical about the overall idea of “summer slide,” or learning loss when children are away from school. If learning is so easily lost when a child’s school routine is disrupted, did they ever really learn at all? They may have been effectively schooled—that is, trained and tested on certain material—but they likely never learned.

Now, children and their parents have an unprecedented opportunity to learn without school. While this is a stressful time for all of us, as our routines are altered and we are mostly stuck inside, distanced from our larger community, it can also be a time to use the enormous, and mostly free, digital resources that are sprouting daily to support learning and discovery. It can be a time to nurture and rekindle our children’s natural curiosity and creativity, qualities that are so often dulled within a mass compulsory schooling system focused on compliance and conformity. It can be a time to get to know our children in ways that might have been difficult during our previously packed, always-on-the-go days.

Most parents will eagerly send their children back to school when this is all over, but some parents will be surprised by what they discover during this break from ordinary life. They may see how much calmer their children are and how school-related ailments such as ADHD are less problematic at home. They may see that their children’s mental health has improved, particularly for teenagers who report the most unhappiness at school.

Parents may see their children’s love of reading and writing reappear, when they are allowed to read books and write stories that are meaningful to them and not tied to an arbitrary school assignment or grammar lesson. They may see a strong interest in science and technology emerge, as their children want to know more about how viruses work and what inventions are being created to help fight the pandemic. Parents may see real learning happen and decide not to send their children back to school.

Fortunately, there are now so many more ways to facilitate education without schooling, including hybrid homeschooling models, virtual learning, microschools, self-directed learning centers, and co-learning spaces. With more demand from parents for innovative, out-of-school learning options, more entrepreneurs will build experimental K-12 education models that will expand choices for parents and learners. Opting out of conventional schooling has never been easier or more worthwhile.

Rather than dwelling on the schoolwork that isn’t getting done this spring, let’s celebrate the immense learning that is occurring, in our homes and with our families, as we experience this historic event together. Let’s focus on what we gain, not on what we lost.

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Don’t be Controlled by Government

I drink water. I’ve done so all my life. If government passed legislation today ordering me to continue to drink water, would I stop drinking water just because they ordered me to drink it? No.

Would it be hypocritical of me to continue to drink water while pointing out that the new legislation was evil? No.

I would be smart to be suspicious of the reasons behind any legislation ordering me to drink water, and perhaps I would seek out my own sources. I’d wonder what they had put in it if they were ordering me to drink it (I know some people already do).

But water, and drinking it, doesn’t suddenly change into the wrong thing to do just because government orders it.

Well, trying to avoid exposing yourself or vulnerable people to a potentially harmful disease– even when you don’t know the true risks– is the same thing. It’s strange that I feel the need to point that out, but some people actually don’t understand that reality.

If you stop doing something you’ve been doing just because government tells you to do it, you are letting government control you every bit as much as if you stop doing something you know is right just because government makes it “illegal”. Don’t do that.

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The Cowardocracy

More and more I’m seeing all statists– those who believe governing others to be a legitimate human endeavor– as cowards.

This coronapanic has exposed them better than anything in recent memory. Probably better than anything since the Blowback Attacks of 2001– which, I admit, almost drew me in.

Cowards always want someone to save them from dangers they exaggerate.

It’s not about your risk of getting coronavirus– you’ll probably get sick with something in the next few months regardless– it’s about your chances; your risk of dying from the illness. No one is being honest about that risk, because they don’t know what it is and won’t admit they don’t know.

But cowards don’t care, they want reassurance and they want someone else to take care of them. Even if what is being done is the wrong thing– possibly making things worse. Even if they are being lied to. As long as someone else seems like they are taking charge.

And you and I are paying for their cowardice.

Depending on someone else to hold your hand through the pandemic is probably not the healthiest way to respond. Allowing someone else to herd you like cattle is the worst way to respond. Life shouldn’t stop just because you don’t know what’s happening or what will happen next. If you think you know what the future holds, at any time, you’re fooling yourself anyway.

A police state is a symptom of widespread cowardice.

But I know you aren’t the one who’s the problem. The problem is those people who only watch MSNBC, CNN, or FOX news. They are being misinformed and it is making them cowards (if they weren’t before). It’s absurd. But they v*te. And they “support” the Blue Line Gang’s villainy. And they bleat and plead for government to “do something”.

Why should cowards control society? Why should they have power over your life just because of their superior numbers? You know the answer: they shouldn’t.

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When Kids Ask: Why Is there No Toilet Paper?

At both of the grocery stores within walking distance of my house, there hasn’t been any toilet paper for days. My kids are asking why this is, and maybe yours are too. Sheltering kids from reality doesn’t do them any favors in the long run. It is both empowering and comforting to instead seize the teachable moment and replace confusion with understanding: in this case economic understanding. And you can only do that if you first acquire that understanding for yourself.

These are the ideas I try to impart when I explain to my kids what happened to all the toilet paper.

Fears of lockdowns and government stay-at-home orders to combat the COVID-19 pandemic have, understandably, led many people to buy as many essentials as possible. This hoarding tendency in the face of uncertainty is a natural human response to a difficult situation.

Higher Value of Toilet Paper

From an economic perspective, the value of toilet paper is much higher now than it was pre-pandemic. But with the price of toilet paper the same as it always was and not reflecting its increased value, there is nothing to prevent individuals from buying as much of it as possible. Indeed, that’s the rational consumer response. But if shopkeepers increased the price of toilet paper to reflect its new value, suddenly we would think twice about hoarding it and only take as much as we need. These rising prices would also signal supply chains of the increased value of toilet paper, prompting toilet paper manufacturers to boost production.

In natural disasters, like a hurricane or an earthquake or a pandemic, we often hear people decry “price gouging” and blame “greedy shopkeepers” for trying to profit off of misery. Yet, price gouging is an unfair term. If the shopkeeper raises the price of toilet paper (or hand sanitizer or bleach or eggs or any of the other items that are currently in high demand), then it incentivizes the consumer not to hoard and to buy only as much of an item as is truly needed. It’s not greedy, it’s responsive. Instead, some stores have implemented rationing, allowing only one dozen eggs per customer, for example. This can prevent hoarding, but it doesn’t signal producers to increase the supply. Rising prices do that. Without that signal, shortages remain.

The same is true of government price controls that prevent rising prices, keeping the price artificially low and not reflective of the true value of today’s high-demand products. Price controls also encourage more hoarding and less production, leading to ongoing shortages. If instead we allow pricing signals to work properly, then producers and entrepreneurs will be spurred by the higher price of toilet paper to bring more of it to market, which will ultimately shift the price of toilet paper down.

Price Gouging

Economist Antony Davies and political scientist James Harrigan, who host the popular weekly podcast Words & Numbers, wrote recently about the economics of shortages during a crisis and why “price gouging” is a misleading term. They explain:

In economic terms, shortages in the wake of the coronavirus, or a hurricane, or even seats at a Led Zeppelin reunion, are similar things. In each case, rising prices aren’t the problem. The problem is that people want more of something than what exists. Rising prices are a response to this reality—a response that incents buyers to buy judiciously, and sellers to rush more product to market.

The present toilet paper fiasco is just one of many current events worth talking to your kids about, especially now that all of us are home together with nowhere to go. To help facilitate some of these discussions, I have created a new FEE Facebook group, Learning@Home (Coronavirus 2020), with the help of the FEE team. Please join me there to discuss these ideas in a more dynamic way, and to learn strategies for introducing these concepts to your kids during this unusual time.

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What’s the Worst Thing?

I don’t think it’s death.

Death sucks, and the drive for life is good. But inability to make peace with the utter inevitability of death can lead a person to things worse than death.

I’ve written on this theme before (here most recently) as it’s cropped up in my life with increased frequency. Panic and denial over death can lead humans to do ugly, shameful things. The goal of a human life ought not to be death denial (though pursuits of life extension are awesome) but dignity from start to finish, including a dignified death.

Dignified death has more to do with the frame of mind of the dying than physical circumstances. There’s a reason the peaceful martyr moves us (and sometimes causes a massive social movement). Seeing someone approach death without fear, but with courage, resolve, peace, and dignity reflects the highest human spirit and inspires those of us still living.

The fight for life is noble. Until it’s not. We’ve seen enough epochs of history and fictional portrayals to know the depths of depravity humans can reach when they fall into a zero-sum trap and maniacally compete with their fellow humans for any last gasp of life. We’ve seen what a fever of fear can do to a mob beyond reason.

Each of us has an individual duty to live well. And living well includes dying well. We can’t control the external circumstances of our deaths, but we can control our mentality and example as we face it.

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