Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bailout: A Threat to Liberty and Prosperity

Sometimes the proposed cure is worse than the illness. That is the case with the bailout. The proposed bailout is only going to delay the inevitable. Unless Congress intervenes, bad decisions will be punished on Wall Street. But will voters punish their elected representatives who caused much of this through bad policies? Not likely.

I couldn't agree more with what Republican House Policy Chairman, Representative Thad McCotter (R-MI) said about the proposed bailout:

"We are faced with the first financial panic of the global economy. Thus, the Congressional action taken today will set a precedent affecting the prosperity of Americans for decades to come. The proposed $700 billion dollar Wall Street bailout bill is not a Republican solution; it is not a Democratic solution; it is not an
American solution. The proposed $700 billion dollar Wall Street Bailout is a socialist solution - one that, by threatening hardworking Americans' prosperity, unconscionably ransoms hardworking Americans' money and reduces their liberty. As such, it is a generational threat to Americans' liberty and prosperity. [emphasis mine]

Congress cannot re-inflate the bubble to save the American economy."

Former Congressman Dick Armey has it exactly right:

The difficult question each member of Congress faces today is simply this: Do you believe that the political process, having produced many of the perverse incentives that resulted in our economy’s current predicament, can solve these underlying distortions by essentially doing more of the same? I believe the answer to this question is unequivocally NO.

Here and here are two excellent columns on this mess. I highly recommend you read them.

Addendum: Another excellent overview of what caused the financial crisis.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Quote: Jefferson on Debt and Liberty

"To preserve their [the people's] independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our selection between economy and liberty, or profusion and servitude" - Thomas Jefferson

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Quote: PJ O'Rourke on Rent Seeking

I collect quotes. I plan on posting the better ones to this blog. Rent seeking is a public choice economics term.

When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Little Red Hen Shrugged

Michelle Malkin recently rewrote the traditional children’s story The Ant and the Grasshopper in a column as an analogy to the proposed bailout of the mortgage industry. It reminded me of my own satirical rewrite of The Little Red Hen a few years ago. David Moon, a financial columnist for the Knoxville News-Sentinel, had written a column where he commented on hearing about a rewrite of The Little Red Hen where the hen shares her bread with her three lazy neighbors in the end. In the column, he had referred to the original Little Red Hen as “Atlas Shrugged for Children.” I got to thinking, what would the Little Red Hen sound like if Ayn Rand had written it?  (Note: There are countless re-writes of this story on the Internet.  I certainly don't claim that my version is particularly well done or original.  However, I do believe some of the versions I have run across may have based some parts of their retelling on my story as I have posted it a few times elsewhere.)  Here is the version I sent it to Mr. Moon:

The Little Red Hen Shrugged
by Liberty4Kids.blogspot.com with apologies to Ayn Rand

Once upon a time, there was a very industrious little red hen who scratched about the barnyard until she uncovered quite a few grains of wheat. She called all of her neighbors together and said, "If we plant this wheat, we shall have bread to eat. Who will help me plant it?"

"Not I," said the pig.

"Not I," said the cat.

"Not I," said the dog.

"Then I will do it by myself," said the Little Red Hen. And so she did.

With careful tending by the Little Red Hen, the wheat grew very tall and ripened into golden grain.

"Who will help me reap my wheat?" asked the little red hen.

"I'd lose my unemployment compensation," oinked the pig while running off to cool herself in the mud.

"Out of my classification," meowed the cat then stretched and fell asleep.

"I’m disabled," barked the dog while chasing a car.

"Then I will do it by myself," said the Little Red Hen, and so she did.

At last it came time to bake the bread. "Who will help me bake the bread?" asked the little red hen.

"I'm a dropout and never learned how," said the pig.

"That would be overtime for me," said the cat.

"I'd lose my disability benefits," said the dog.

"Then I will do it by myself," said the Little Red Hen.

She baked five loaves and held them up for all of her neighbors to see. They wanted some and, in fact, demanded a share. But the little red hen said, "No, I shall eat one loaf, save two loaves for a rainy day, and sell two loaves. I will, however, sell you some bread."

"You are getting more than your fair share!" cried the pig.

"But what about the working poor?" protested the cat.

"You are discriminating against us because of our species!" yelled the dog.

The jackass showed up to lead a protest. A TV news crew showed up to cover the protest. The local congressman quickly introduced a bill prohibiting little red hens from taking advantage of pigs, cats and dogs; he called the bill “The Fairness in Production Act.” The powerful congressman summoned the Little Red Hen to a congressional committee hearing.

The committee chairman scolded the Little Red Hen, "You must not be so greedy."

"But I earned the bread," said the Little Red Hen.

"Earned?" said the indignant chairman. "Listen, through not effort of your own, you have won life’s lottery. Why should your neighbors be punished because you have been lucky?"

“Lucky?” protested the little red hen. “While true I found the grain, it is also true that I was the only one looking for it. Just like I was the only one to plant the wheat, tend to the wheat, harvest the wheat, take it to the miller, and bake the bread. Isn’t it enough that 50% of all the eggs I lay are confiscated by the government to feed the pig, the cat and the dog? How is that fair?”

“Fair?” stormed the congressman. “How can you bring up the question of fairness? How is it “fair” that you and only you get to decide what happens to the bread?”

“Maybe,” snapped the Little Red Hen, “it is because I was the only one who decided to mix my labor with the land to grow the wheat. You aren’t proposing to make me a slave by forcing me to work for your benefit are you?” The congressman smiled, leaned back in his chair and in a moment of candor said, “Well, I do believe you understand exactly what I am proposing. Now hand over the bread or else!”

“Even if I do that, why would I go to the trouble to bake any bread the next time?” asked the Little Red Hen.

“It is because,” said the congressman, “if you don’t they will starve.”

“In that case,” shrugged Little Red Hen, “let them! For no one owns me!”

Not Yours to Give

It is too bad there aren't many Congressmen like David Crockett anymore. Ron Paul may be the only exception. Rep. Jimmy Duncan is also very good.

From The Life of Colonel David Crockett,
by Edward S. Ellis (Philadelphia: Porter & Coates, 1884)

Crockett was then the lion of Washington. I was a great admirer of his character, and, having several friends who were intimate with him, I found no difficulty in making his acquaintance. I was fascinated with him, and he seemed to take a fancy to me.

I was one day in the lobby of the House of Representatives when a bill was taken up appropriating money for the benefit of a widow of a distinguished naval officer. Several beautiful speeches had been made in its support – rather, as I thought, because it afforded the speakers a fine opportunity for display than from the necessity of convincing anybody, for it seemed to me that everybody favored it. The Speaker was just about to put the question when Crockett arose. Everybody expected, of course, that he was going to make one of his characteristic speeches in support of the bill. He commenced:

"Mr. Speaker – I have as much respect for the memory of the deceased, and as much sympathy for the sufferings of the living, if suffering there be, as any man in this House, but we must not permit our respect for the dead or our sympathy for a part of the living to lead us into an act of injustice to the balance of the living. I will not go into an argument to prove that Congress has no power to appropriate this money as an act of charity. Every member upon this floor knows it. We have the right, as individuals, to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity; but as members of Congress we have no right so to appropriate a dollar of the public money. Some eloquent appeals have been made to us upon the ground that it is a debt due the deceased. Mr. Speaker, the deceased lived long after the close of the war; he was in office to the day of his death, and I have never heard that the government was in arrears to him. This government can owe no debts but for services rendered, and at a stipulated price. If it is a debt, how much is it? Has it been audited, and the amount due ascertained? If it is a debt, this is not the place to present it for payment, or to have its merits examined. If it is a debt, we owe more than we can ever hope to pay, for we owe the widow of every soldier who fought in the War of 1812 precisely the same amount. There is a woman in my neighborhood, the widow of as gallant a man as ever shouldered a musket. He fell in battle. She is as good in every respect as this lady, and is as poor. She is earning her daily bread by her daily labor; but if I were to introduce a bill to appropriate five or ten thousand dollars for her benefit, I should be laughed at, and my bill would not get five votes in this House. There are thousands of widows in the country just such as the one I have spoken of, but we never hear of any of these large debts to them. Sir, this is no debt. The government did not owe it to the deceased when he was alive; it could not contract it after he died. I do not wish to be rude, but I must be plain. Every man in this House knows it is not a debt. We cannot, without the grossest corruption, appropriate this money as the payment of a debt. We have not the semblance of authority to appropriate it as a charity. Mr. Speaker, I have said we have the right to give as much of our own money as we please. I am the poorest man on this floor. I cannot vote for this bill, but I will give one week's pay to the object, and if every member of Congress will do the same, it will amount to more than the bill asks."

He took his seat. Nobody replied. The bill was put upon its passage, and, instead of passing unanimously, as was generally supposed, and as, no doubt, it would, but for that speech, it received but few votes, and, of course, was lost.
Like many other young men, and old ones, too, for that matter, who had not thought upon the subject, I desired the passage of the bill, and felt outraged at its defeat. I determined that I would persuade my friend Crockett to move a reconsideration the next day.

Previous engagements preventing me from seeing Crockett that night, I went early to his room the next morning and found him engaged in addressing and franking letters, a large pile of which lay upon his table.

I broke in upon him rather abruptly, by asking him what devil had possessed him to make that speech and defeat that bill yesterday. Without turning his head or looking up from his work, he replied:

"You see that I am very busy now; take a seat and cool yourself. I will be through in a few minutes, and then I will tell you all about it."
He continued his employment for about ten minutes, and when he had finished he turned to me and said:

"Now, sir, I will answer your question. But thereby hangs a tale, and one of considerable length, to which you will have to listen."

I listened, and this is the tale which I heard:

Several years ago I was one evening standing on the steps of the Capitol with some other members of Congress, when our attention was attracted by a great light over in Georgetown. It was evidently a large fire. We jumped into a hack and drove over as fast as we could. When we got there, I went to work, and I never worked as hard in my life as I did there for several hours. But, in spite of all that could be done, many houses were burned and many families made homeless, and, besides, some of them had lost all but the clothes they had on. The weather was very cold, and when I saw so many women and children suffering, I felt that something ought to be done for them, and everybody else seemed to feel the same way.

The next morning a bill was introduced appropriating $20,000 for their relief. We put aside all other business and rushed it through as soon as it could be done. I said everybody felt as I did. That was not quite so; for, though they perhaps sympathized as deeply with the sufferers as I did, there were a few of the members who did not think we had the right to indulge our sympathy or excite our charity at the expense of anybody but ourselves. They opposed the bill, and upon its passage demanded the yeas and nays. There were not enough of them to sustain the call, but many of us wanted our names to appear in favor of what we considered a praiseworthy measure, and we voted with them to sustain it. So the yeas and nays were recorded, and my name appeared on the journals in favor of the bill.

The next summer, when it began to be time to think about the election, I concluded I would take a scout around among the boys of my district. I had no opposition there, but, as the election was some time off, I did not know what might turn up, and I thought it was best to let the boys know that I had not forgot them, and that going to Congress had not made me too proud to go to see them.
So I put a couple of shirts and a few twists of tobacco into my saddlebags, and put out. I had been out about a week and had found things going very smoothly, when, riding one day in a part of my district in which I was more of a stranger than any other, I saw a man in a field plowing and coming toward the road. I gauged my gait so that we should meet as he came to the fence. As he came up I spoke to the man. He replied politely, but, as I thought, rather coldly, and was about turning his horse for another furrow when I said to him: "Don't be in such a hurry, my friend; I want to have a little talk with you, and get better acquainted."

He replied: "I am very busy, and have but little time to talk, but if it does not take too long, I will listen to what you have to say."

I began: "Well, friend, I am one of those unfortunate beings called candidates, and – "

"'Yes, I know you; you are Colonel Crockett. I have seen you once before, and voted for you the last time you were elected. I suppose you are out electioneering now, but you had better not waste your time or mine. I shall not vote for you again.'

This was a sockdolager... I begged him to tell me what was the matter.

"Well, Colonel, it is hardly worthwhile to waste time or words upon it. I do not see how it can be mended, but you gave a vote last winter which shows that either you have not capacity to understand the Constitution, or that you are wanting in honesty and firmness to be guided by it. In either case you are not the man to represent me. But I beg your pardon for expressing it in that way. I did not intend to avail myself of the privilege of the Constitution to speak plainly to a candidate for the purpose of insulting or wounding you. I intend by it only to say that your understanding of the Constitution is very different from mine; and I will say to you what, but for my rudeness, I should not have said, that I believe you to be honest. But an understanding of the Constitution different from mine I cannot overlook, because the Constitution, to be worth anything, must be held sacred, and rigidly observed in all its provisions. The man who wields power and misinterprets it is the more dangerous the more honest he is."

"I admit the truth of all you say, but there must be some mistake about it, for I do not remember that I gave any vote last winter upon any constitutional question."

"No, Colonel, there's no mistake. Though I live here in the backwoods and seldom go from home, I take the papers from Washington and read very carefully all the proceedings of Congress. My papers say that last winter you voted for a bill to appropriate $20,000 to some sufferers by a fire in Georgetown. Is that true?"

"Certainly it is, and I thought that was the last vote which anybody in the world would have found fault with."

"Well, Colonel, where do you find in the Constitution any authority to give away the public money in charity?"

Here was another sockdolager; for, when I began to think about it, I could not remember a thing in the Constitution that authorized it. I found I must take another tack, so I said:

"Well, my friend; I may as well own up. You have got me there. But certainly nobody will complain that a great and rich country like ours should give the insignificant sum of $20,000 to relieve its suffering women and children, particularly with a full and overflowing Treasury, and I am sure, if you had been there, you would have done just as I did."

"It is not the amount, Colonel, that I complain of; it is the principle. In the first place, the government ought to have in the Treasury no more than enough for its legitimate purposes. But that has nothing to do with the question. The power of collecting and disbursing money at pleasure is the most dangerous power that can be entrusted to man, particularly under our system of collecting revenue by a tariff, which reaches every man in the country, no matter how poor he may be, and the poorer he is the more he pays in proportion to his means. What is worse, it presses upon him without his knowledge where the weight centers, for there is not a man in the United States who can ever guess how much he pays to the government. So you see, that while you are contributing to relieve one, you are drawing it from thousands who are even worse off than he. If you had the right to give anything, the amount was simply a matter of discretion with you, and you had as much right to give $20,000,000 as $20,000. If you have the right to give to one, you have the right to give to all; and, as the Constitution neither defines charity nor stipulates the amount, you are at liberty to give to any and everything which you may believe, or profess to believe, is a charity, and to any amount you may think proper. You will very easily perceive what a wide door this would open for fraud and corruption and favoritism, on the one hand, and for robbing the people on the other. No, Colonel, Congress has no right to give charity. Individual members may give as much of their own money as they please, but they have no right to touch a dollar of the public money for that purpose. If twice as many houses had been burned in this county as in Georgetown, neither you nor any other member of Congress would have thought of appropriating a dollar for our relief. There are about two hundred and forty members of Congress. If they had shown their sympathy for the sufferers by contributing each one week's pay, it would have made over $13,000. There are plenty of wealthy men in and around Washington who could have given $20,000 without depriving themselves of even a luxury of life. The Congressmen chose to keep their own money, which, if reports be true, some of them spend not very creditably; and the people about Washington, no doubt, applauded you for relieving them from the necessity of giving by giving what was not yours to give. The people have delegated to Congress, by the Constitution, the power to do certain things. To do these, it is authorized to collect and pay moneys, and for nothing else. Everything beyond this is usurpation, and a violation of the Constitution."

I have given you an imperfect account of what he said. Long before he was through, I was convinced that I had done wrong. He wound up by saying:

"So you see, Colonel, you have violated the Constitution in what I consider a vital point. It is a precedent fraught with danger to the country, for when Congress once begins to stretch its power beyond the limits of the Constitution, there is no limit to it, and no security for the people. I have no doubt you acted honestly, but that does not make it any better, except as far as you are personally concerned, and you see that I cannot vote for you."

I tell you I felt streaked. I saw if I should have opposition, and this man should go talking, he would set others to talking, and in that district I was a gone fawn-skin. I could not answer him, and the fact is, I did not want to. But I must satisfy him, and I said to him:

"Well, my friend, you hit the nail upon the head when you said I had not sense enough to understand the Constitution. I intended to be guided by it, and thought I had studied it full. I have heard many speeches in Congress about the powers of Congress, but what you have said there at your plow has got more hard, sound sense in it than all the fine speeches I ever heard. If I had ever taken the view of it that you have, I would have put my head into the fire before I would have given that vote; and if you will forgive me and vote for me again, if I ever vote for another unconstitutional law I wish I may be shot."

He laughingly replied:

"Yes, Colonel, you have sworn to that once before, but I will trust you again upon one condition. You say that you are convinced that your vote was wrong. Your acknowledgment of it will do more good than beating you for it. If, as you go around the district, you will tell people about this vote, and that you are satisfied it was wrong, I will not only vote for you, but will do what I can to keep down opposition, and, perhaps, I may exert some little influence in that way."

"If I don't," said I, "I wish I may be shot; and to convince you that I am in earnest in what I say, I will come back this way in a week or ten days, and if you will get up a gathering of the people, I will make a speech to them. Get up a barbecue, and I will pay for it."

"No, Colonel, we are not rich people in this section, but we have plenty of provisions to contribute for a barbecue, and some to spare for those who have none. The push of crops will be over in a few days, and we can then afford a day for a barbecue. This is Thursday; I will see to getting it up on Saturday week. Come to my house on Friday, and we will go together, and I promise you a very respectable crowd to see and hear you."

"Well, I will be here. But one thing more before I say good-bye. I must know your name."

"My name is Bunce."

"Not Horatio Bunce?"


"Well, Mr. Bunce, I never saw you before, though you say you have seen me; but I know you very well. I am glad I have met you, and very proud that I may hope to have you for my friend. You must let me shake your hand before I go."

We shook hands and parted.

It was one of the luckiest hits of my life that I met him. He mingled but little with the public, but was widely known for his remarkable intelligence and incorruptible integrity, and for a heart brimful and running over with kindness and benevolence, which showed themselves not only in words but in acts. He was the oracle of the whole country around him, and his fame had extended far beyond the circle of his immediate acquaintance. Though I had never met him before, I had heard much of him, and but for this meeting it is very likely I should have had opposition, and had been beaten. One thing is very certain, no man could now stand up in that district under such a vote.

At the appointed time I was at his house, having told our conversation to every crowd I had met, and to every man I stayed all night with, and I found that it gave the people an interest and a confidence in me stronger than I had ever seen manifested before.

Though I was considerably fatigued when I reached his house, and, under ordinary circumstances, should have gone early to bed, I kept him up until midnight, talking about the principles and affairs of government, and got more real, true knowledge of them than I had got all my life before.

I have told you Mr. Bunce converted me politically. He came nearer converting me religiously than I had ever been before. He did not make a very good Christian of me, as you know; but he has wrought upon my mind a conviction of the truth of Christianity, and upon my feelings a reverence for its purifying and elevating power such as I had never felt before.

I have known and seen much of him since, for I respect him – no, that is not the word – I reverence and love him more than any living man, and I go to see him two or three times every year; and I will tell you, sir, if everyone who professes to be a Christian lived and acted and enjoyed it as he does, the religion of Christ would take the world by storm.

But to return to my story. The next morning we went to the barbecue, and, to my surprise, found about a thousand men there. I met a good many whom I had not known before, and they and my friend introduced me around until I had got pretty well acquainted – at least, they all knew me.

In due time notice was given that I would speak to them. They gathered around a stand that had been erected. I opened my speech by saying:

"Fellow citizens – I present myself before you today feeling like a new man. My eyes have lately been opened to truths which ignorance or prejudice, or both, had heretofore hidden from my view. I feel that I can today offer you the ability to render you more valuable service than I have ever been able to render before. I am here today more for the purpose of acknowledging my error than to seek your votes. That I should make this acknowledgment is due to myself as well as to you. Whether you will vote for me is a matter for your consideration only."

I went on to tell them about the fire and my vote for the appropriation as I have told it to you, and then told them why I was satisfied it was wrong. I closed by saying:

"And now, fellow citizens, it remains only for me to tell you that the most of the speech you have listened to with so much interest was simply a repetition of the arguments by which your neighbor, Mr. Bunce, convinced me of my error.

"It is the best speech I ever made in my life, but he is entitled to the credit of it. And now I hope he is satisfied with his convert and that he will get up here and tell you so."

He came upon the stand and said:

"Fellow citizens – It affords me great pleasure to comply with the request of Colonel Crockett. I have always considered him a thoroughly honest man, and I am satisfied that he will faithfully perform all that he has promised you today."

He went down, and there went up from the crowd such a shout for Davy Crockett as his name never called forth before.

I am not much given to tears, but I was taken with a choking then and felt some big drops rolling down my cheeks. And I tell you now that the remembrance of those few words spoken by such a man, and the honest, hearty shout they produced, is worth more to me than all the honors I have received and all the reputation I have ever made, or ever shall make, as a member of Congress.

"Now, Sir," concluded Crockett, "you know why I made that speech yesterday. I have had several thousand copies of it printed and was directing them to my constituents when you came in.

"There is one thing now to which I will call your attention. You remember that I proposed to give a week's pay. There are in that House many very wealthy men – men who think nothing of spending a week's pay, or a dozen of them for a dinner or a wine party when they have something to accomplish by it. Some of those same men made beautiful speeches upon the great debt of gratitude which the country owed the deceased – a debt which could not be paid by money, particularly so insignificant a sum as $10,000, when weighed against the honor of the nation. Yet not one of them responded to my proposition. Money with them is nothing but trash when it is to come out of the people. But it is the one great thing for which most of them are striving, and many of them sacrifice honor, integrity, and justice to obtain it."

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Wild and Free Pigs of the Okefenokee Swamp

This story circulated via email a few years ago. I thought it would be a fitting story for this blog.

The Wild and Free Pigs of the Okefenokee Swamp
by Steve Washam

based on a telling by George Gordon

Some years ago, about 1900, an old trapper from North Dakota hitched up some horses to his Studebaker wagon, packed a few possessions--especially his traps--and drove south. Several weeks later he stopped in a small town just north of the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia. It was a Saturday morning--a lazy day--when he walked into the general store. Sitting around the pot-bellied stove were seven or eight of the town's local citizens. The traveler spoke, "Gentlemen, could you direct me to the Okefenokee Swamp?" Some of the oldtimers looked at him like he was crazy.

"You must be a stranger in these parts," they said.

"I am. I'm from North Dakota," said the stranger.

"In the Okefenokee Swamp are thousands of wild hogs," one old man explained, "A man who goes into the swamp by himself asks to die!"

He lifted up his leg. "I lost half my leg here, to the pigs of the swamp."

Another old fellow said, "Look at the cuts on me; look at my arm bit off!" "Those pigs have been free since the Revolution, eating snakes and rooting out roots and fending for themselves for over a hundred years. They're wild and they're dangerous. You can't trap them. No man dare go into the swamp by himself."

Every man nodded his head in agreement.

The old trapper said, "Thank you so much for the warning. Now could you direct me to the swamp?"

They said, "Well, yeah, it's due south--straight down the road." But they begged the stranger not to go, because they knew he'd meet a terrible fate.

He said, "Sell me ten sacks of corn, and help me load them into the wagon."

And they did.

Then the old trapper bid them farewell and drove on down the road. The townsfolk thought they'd never see him again.

Two weeks later the man came back. He pulled up to the general store, got down off the wagon, walked in and bought ten more sacks of corn. After loading it up he went back down the road toward the swamp.

Two weeks later he returned and, again, bought ten sacks of corn.

This went on for a month; Then two months, and then three. Every week or two the old trapper would come into town on a Saturday morning, load up ten sacks of corn and drive off south into the swamp. The stranger soon became a legend in the little village and the subject of much speculation. People wondered what kind of devil had possessed this man, that he could go into the Okefenokee by himself and not be consumed by the wild and free hogs.

One morning the man came into town as usual. Everyone thought he wanted more corn.

He got off the wagon and went into the store where the usual group of men were gathered around the stove. He took off his gloves. "Gentlemen," he said, "I need to hire about ten or fifteen wagons. I need twenty or thirty men. I have six thousand hogs out in the swamp, penned up, and they're all hungry. I've got to get them to market right away." "You've WHAT in the swamp?" asked the storekeeper, incredulously. "I have six thousand hogs penned up. They haven't eaten for two or three days, and they'll starve if I don't get back there to feed and take care of them."

One of the old timers said, "You mean you've captured the wild hogs of the Okefenokee?"

"That's right."

"How did you do that? What did you do?" the men urged, breathlessly. One of them exclaimed, "But I lost my arm!"

"I lost my brother!" cried another.

"I lost my leg to those wild boars!" chimed a third. The trapper said, "Well, the first week I went in there they were wild all right. They hid in the undergrowth and wouldn't come out. I dared not get off the wagon. So I spread corn along behind the wagon. Every day I'd spread a sack of corn.

"The old pigs would have nothing to do with it. But the younger pigs decided that it was easier to eat free corn than it was to root out roots and catch snakes. So the very young began to eat the corn first. "I did this every day. Pretty soon, even the old pigs decided that it was easier to eat free corn, after all, they were all free; they were not penned up. They could run off in any direction they wanted at any time. "The next thing was to get them used to eating in the same place all the time. So, I selected a clearing, and I started putting the corn in the clearing.

"At first they wouldn't come to the clearing. It was too far. It was too open. It was a nuisance to them.

"But the very young decided that it was easier to take the corn in the clearing than it was to root out roots and catch their own snakes. And not long thereafter, the older pigs also decided that it was easier to come to the clearing every day.

"And so the pigs learned to come to the clearing every day to get their free corn. They could still subsidize their diet with roots and snakes and whatever else they wanted. After all, they were all free. They could run in any direction at any time. There were no bounds upon them. "The next step was to get them used to fence posts. So I put fence posts all the way around the clearing. I put them in the underbrush so that they wouldn't get suspicious or upset, after all, they were just sticks sticking up out of the ground, like the trees and the brush. The corn was there every day. It was easy to walk in between the posts, get the corn, and walk back out.

"This went on for a week or two. Shortly they became very used to walking into the clearing, getting the free corn, and walking back out through the fence posts.

"The next step was to put one rail down at the bottom. I also left a few openings, so that the older, fatter pigs could walk through the openings and the younger pigs could easily jump over just one rail, after all, it was no real threat to their freedom or independence--they could always jump over the rail and flee in any direction at any time.

"Now I decided that I wouldn't feed them every day. I began to feed them every other day. On the days I didn't feed them, the pigs still gathered in the clearing. They squealed, and they grunted, and they begged and pleaded with me to feed them-- but I only fed them every other day. Then I put a second rail around the posts.

"Now the pigs became more and more desperate for food. Because now they were no longer used to going out and digging their own roots and finding their own food, they now needed me. They needed my corn every other day." "So I trained them that I would feed them every day if they came in through a gate and I put up a third rail around the fence.

"But it was still no great threat to their freedom, because there were several gates and they could run in and out at will. "Finally I put up the fourth rail. Then I closed all the gates but one, and I fed them very, very well."

"Yesterday I closed the last gate and today I need you to help me take these pigs to market."

The price of free corn is your own slaughter.

The parable of the pigs has a serious moral lesson. This story is about federal money being used to bait, trap and enslave a once free and independent people.

Federal welfare, in its myriad forms, has reduced not only individuals to a state of dependency; state and local governments are also on the fast track to elimination, due to their functions being subverted by the command and control structures of federal "revenue sharing" programs. Please copy this parable and send it to all of your state and local elected leaders and other concerned citizens. Tell them: "Just say NO to federal corn." The bacon you save may be your own.

(c) 1997, The Idaho Observer. All rights reserved.

Permission granted to reproduce for non commercial purposes in entirety including this notice.
"I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations."
-- James Madison

Sunday, September 21, 2008

List of Children's Literature of Liberty Part II

The list below is from Revolution: Fuel the Fire and is dated now. Any new list would have to include the brilliant Shadow Children series which I am currently reading and hope to post a review of soon. The comments are from Mr. Scott.

December 5, 1994, from Dar Scott:

Thanks to everyone who provided suggestions for this list. Be sure to examine the books to make sure they are appropriate.


  • T -- Tolerance and diversity
  • FA -- Freedom of association
  • I -- Individualism and Family Identity
  • B -- Business and basic economics
  • E -- Ethics
  • R -- Responsibility
  • $ -- Economics
  • G -- Government
  • AH -- American History
  • ( xx ) -- Less emphasis
  • Not Seen -- I have not seen this book.
  • Examined -- I have seen this book but have not read it completely.
  • Read. -- I believe I have read every page of this book.
  • Read to nn-mm -- The book is suitable for reading to children in this range.
  • Reader nn-mm -- My rough guess of the skills and interest range of ages.

Here is the list of books:

· The Little Red Hen (The tale is retold by many authors and illustrators) R (B). Read (several versions). Read to 3-6. The hen benefits from the result of her labor. This was recommended to me more times than any other book. Glance at the back of the book: Children like it when the hen shares with her chicks. Some authors put in special twists at the end, but I have not seen any I would warn against.

· Things People Do by Anne Civardi (Illustrated by Stephen Cartwright) Usborne, 1985, 38pp T, B, (FA, I). Examined. Read to 4-9. Reader 8-11. Describes the work people do in a wide range of jobs. Set on an imaginary island. No hype; lots of fun.

· The Araboolies of Liberty Street by Sam Swope (Illustrated by Barry Root) Clarson N. Potter, Inc. & Crown, 1985, 28 pp T, I, G. Read. Read to 3-9. Reader 8-9. The six-star general and his nasty wife make sure there is no fun on Liberty Street by threatening to "call in the army." The arrival of the Araboolies changes everything. The style of this book includes progression and repetition making it great to read to small children (I do have to throw in a couple asides, though). The author creates an association between intolerance and governmental force.

· The Three Little Pigs, The Ant and the Grasshopper, The Emperor's New Clothes, and Robin Hood (be sure it specifies that he's returning the tax money to the poor)

· A Day with Wilbur Robinson by William Joyce HarperTrophy, 1990, 32 pp I, (T). Read. Read to 4-9. Reader 8-10. A visit to a warm and weird family.

· Owl Moon by Jane Yolen (illustrated by John Schoenherr) Philomel Books, 1987, 32 pp I (T). Read. Read to 3-10. Reader 8 up. The Caldecott Medal. In the middle of a cold night a little girl and her father walk silently through the snow to search for owls. The ritual of owling for this one family binds the two in a lesson of hope.

· Gino Badino by Diana Engel Morrow, 1991, 32 pp I, B. Read. Read to 5-9. Reader 8-9. Gino, a mouse, works in the family pasta factory. His creativity gets him in trouble but eventually helps the family business shift to a special market needed for the factory to survive.

· People by Peter Spier Doubleday, 1980, 48pp T. Examined. Read to 5-8. Reader 8-11. Non-Fiction. Children are encouraged to tolerance in this description of the diversity of people around the world. Good for reference, too.

· Thidwick the Big-hearted Moose by Dr. Seuss Random House, 1948, 40 pp I, E, G. Read. Read to 4-8. Reader 8-9. Majority rule does not work out well for Thidwick.

· Yertle the Turtle and The Butter Battle Book by Dr. Seuss Not Read. (Liberty4Kids note: highly recommended as a bed-time book.)

· Follow the Drinking Gourd by Jeanette Winter Knopf, 1988, 48pp, a page of music is provided at the back E (slavery), AH. Read. Read to 4-12 (and sing). Reader 8-10. A slave family is led to the Underground Railroad by the lyrics of a song.

· The Drinking Gourd by F. N. Monjo E (slavery), G. Not Seen. Read to 4-9?

· Meet Addy: An American Girl, Addy Learns a Lesson, Addy's Surprise by Connie Porter and Pleasant Company, 1993, ~70 pp each E (slavery), B, R, AH. Examined. Read to 5-9. Reader 8-12. Part of the American Girls Collection. A black slave girl escapes during the Civil War to live in Philadelphia. Pleasant Company sells high-quality dolls representing the girls in their historical fiction.

· Yankee Doodle: A Revolutionary Tail by Gary Chalk Dorling Kindersley, 1993 AH. Not Seen. Reader 8-12. Taking the song "Yankee Doodle" as a starting point, Chalk uses whimsical illustrations to tell the story of the American Revolution.

· A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

· Ox-Cart Man by Donald Hall

· The Family under the Bridge by Natalie S. Carlson

· The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible by Ken Schoolland Hawaii Businessmen's Association ?? A libertarian tale for children. A new edition will be out early 1995 and will be available from ISIL.

· The Fools of Chelm and Their History by Isaac Bashevis Singer G (T, E, B). Read. Read to 7-9. Reader 9-11. With the discovery of the word "crisis", government is born. Jewish humor.

· The Singing Tree by Kate Seredy. Not Seen.

· The Pushcart War by Jean Merrill B, G. Read (long ago). Reader 9-11. Small businesses fight back. (You might want to talk about these methods)

· Little House on the Prairie (series) by Laura Ingalls Wilder Harper, 1932...1943, 250-300 pp each E, R, B (T, G). Examined. Reader 9-13.

· Little House on Rocky Ridge and Little Farm in the Ozarks by Roger Lea MacBride T, I, R, E, B. Read. Reader 9-13. This is the continuation of the Little House stories. They are about the growing up of Laura's daughter Rose--the same Rose Wilder Lane who later wrote The Discovery of Freedom.

· The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis 1948...1952, about 200 pp each I, E, R, G. Read. Reader 9 up.

· The Orb and the Hourglass by Patrick Cox T, I, E, R, B, $, G. Reader 9 up? This is a libertarian tale in the story style of C. S. Lewis's The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe. Each book is computer personalized. Patrick Cox works for the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

· [various historical novels] by Gilbert Morris FA, I, R, B, AH? Not seen. Reader 11-14? Historical fiction with freedom emphasis and, I think, Christian content.

· The Tree of Freedom by Rebecca Caudill Puffin, 1947, 279 pp T, I, R, B, G, AH. Read. Reader 9 up. A girl's family moves to Kentucky in 1780 and learns that protecting one's freedom is part of caring for the family.

· The Rolling Stones, Have Space Suit--Will Travel, PodKayne of Mars [and others] by Robert Heinlein before 1961 T, FA, I, R, B, G. Read. Reader 10 up. Juvenile SF with individualist themes.

· In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson by Bette Lord Not Seen.

· Where Did Your Family Come From? by Melvin & Gilda Berger Not Seen.

· The Giver by ? ? Not Seen.

· Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes Houghton Mifflin, 1943, 256 pp. John Newbery Medal. R, B, G, AH. Read. Reader 11 up. An obnoxious orphan develops character in time to be of use in the American Revolution.

· The Girl Who Owned a City by O. T. Nelson Lerner, 1975, 189 pp FA, I, E, R, B. Read. Reader 12 up. Children learn to survive in a world without adults--and thus without government. Characters are a little Randian and the book is anti-religion.

· The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien Ballantine, 1937, 295 pp Not Read. Reader 13 up. The prelude to The Lord of the Rings which has a freedom theme.

· The Book of Merlyn and The Once and Future King by T. H. White

· Whatever Happened to Penny Candy? by Richard Maybury. [WWW]Bluestocking Press, 4th edition, 1999, 192 pp. Non-fiction. R, $, G, AH. Read. Reader 12 up. Money and inflation for teens (Austrian Economics).

· Whatever Happened to Justice? by Richard Maybury. [WWW]Bluestocking Press, 1993, 254 pp. Non-fiction. I, E, R, $, G, AH. Read. Reader 13 up. Common law and freedom for teens.

· Capitalism for Kids by Karl Hess. Enterprise, 1987, 257 pp. Non-fiction. I, E, R, B, G. Examined. Reader 13 up. Practical free-market economics for teens.

· Animal Farm by George Orwell. I, E, R, $, G. Read. Reader 13 up.

· Diary of Anne Frank

Saturday, September 20, 2008

List of Children's Literature of Liberty Part I

Eventually, I will get around to posting reviews of some children’s books. But until that day comes, here is a list of children’s literature on liberty from Richard's Corner of the Web:

Natalie S. Carlson, The Family Under the Bridge

Rebecca Caudill, Tree of Freedom

Paul Galdone, Illus., The Little Red Hen

Donald Hall, Ox-Car Man

Robert Heinlein

Between Planets

Red Planet

The Rolling Stones

Starman Jones

Madeleine L'Engle, A Wrinkle in Time

Jean Merrill, The Pushcart War

O. T. Nelson, The Girl Who Owned a City

Kate Seredy, The Singing Tree

Dr. Seuss

Yertle the Turtle

The Butter Battle Book

Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose

Isaac Bashevis Singer, The Fools of Chelm & Their History

T. H. White

The Once & Future King

The Book of Merlyn

Laura Ingalls Wilder, The Little House Stories

Friday, September 19, 2008

Let Them Fail

One of the biggest disservices parents are doing to their children is protecting them from ever failing. It is better that they learn from failure when they are young and the consequences are not so great. I have heard so many stories about helicopter parents. You know, the parent that is always there to catch their child when they scuff their knee or, worse, berate their child's teacher when little Suzie gets an “F” for not turning her homework in on time. Do these parents really think they are helping their children by never letting them fail and, more importantly, never allowing them to learn from their mistakes? When parents remove consequences from actions, a child doesn’t learn responsibility.

So now we have a helicopter government. It has been a tough year for many Wall Street investment companies, insurance companies and banks. These companies have made some really bad business decisions. In a free market, companies that make bad decisions are punished and companies that make good decisions are rewarded. Well, apparently not anymore. These companies are deemed “too big to fail" so the taxpayers are on the hook for the bad decisions that these companies’ management made. (And well compensated management I will add.) We have privatized profits but socialized losses.

What is preventing companies from acting even more reckless in the future if they know the government will bail them out? I guess the answer is going to be more regulation. But the market has a mechanism for regulating itself, it is called failure. So a few companies acted irresponsibly and the fix is going to be more regulation for all companies - even the ones that didn't act recklessly. This is kind of like when a teacher punishes the whole class because one or two kids have misbehaved. I have never thought that was fair and I don’t think what is happening with the government bailouts is fair either.

Philosophy of Liberty

I know what you are asking yourself, "So what is this "liberty" he is yammering about?"

Here is a nice little video from the International Society for Individual Liberty that explains the philosophy of liberty to children or to your statist friends:


Big Global Warming Debate Today

My oldest daughter is in the 6th grade debate club. Today she will be arguing for man-caused global climate change. I wish her well, but more importantly I hope it is a good learning experience for her. The teams do not get to choose which side of the issue they must take. I directed her to a few resources and made a few comments that were probably not helpful. (Daughter’s assertion, “The polar bears are dying and the ice caps are melting.” My response, “No they’re not.”) In general, those who support government action are advocating increased government regulation. And as Professor Walter Williams has said, “More government means less liberty.” So if I were arguing the other side, I would make sure those that support increased regulation understand the necessary trade-off.

A few years ago, a niece from a more northern state was visiting and we were talking about the lack of snow in Tennessee the past few years. She, on the other hand, had missed quite a few days of elementary school due to all the snow. I asked, “Does anyone know why there isn’t as much snow in Tennessee?” Her quick answer was “global warming.” So much for the argument that only religious schools indoctrinate their students.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Giving Equal Time to The Anti-Federalists

Since yesterday was Constitution Day and I celebrated it with my first post, I thought I would give equal time to one of the Anti-Federalists. Thanks to The Liberty Papers for the pointer.

Here is what Patrick Henry said about the new Constitution:

If we admit this Consolidated Government it will be because we like a great splendid one. Some way or other we must be a great and mighty empire; we must have an army, and a navy, and a number of things.

When the American spirit was in its youth, the language of America was different.

Liberty, Sir, was then the primary object. We are descended from a people whose Government was founded on liberty.

Our glorious forefathers of Great-Britain, made liberty the foundation of every thing. That country is become a great, mighty, and splendid nation; not because their Government is strong and energetic; but, Sir, because liberty is its direct end and foundation.

We drew the spirit of liberty from our British ancestors; by that spirit we have triumphed over every difficulty.

But now, Sir, the American spirit, assisted by the ropes and chains of consolidation, is about to convert this country to a powerful and mighty empire.

If you make the citizens of this country agree to become the subjects of one great consolidated empire of America, your Government will not have sufficient energy to keep them together.

Such a Government is incompatible with the genius of republicanism.

You can read more here: PH Document

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Happy Constitution Day and Welcome to the Liberty for Kids Blog

What better day to officially start posting to a blog dedicated to promoting teaching children about constitutionally limited government and the ideas of liberty. Yeah, yeah, I know, to require government (public) schools to teach about the Constitution is probably unconstitutional but it is a good way to start the discussion. Since my children aren’t in the government schools, I have to admit I don’t really know what is being taught to meet the federal requirement. I can only assume it is not about limiting the powers of government through the Constitution as was originally intended. I would like for someone to correct me on that. Sarcastically I have to ask, “If a government school teacher were to teach about the Constitution would James Madison recognize it?”

But I don’t want you to think I am only going to be promoting constitutional government because this blog is more than just that. It is a blog committed to sharing the ideas of liberty. To that end, I will be commenting on children’s books, movies, music, and web sites as they promote (or assail) the ideas of liberty. This most likely will take the form of book reviews but I will, from time to time, post original material or non-copyrighted short stories. (I say “most likely” because I fully expect the direction and content of this blog to evolve as I get more into it.)

Since I have two daughters, I have given much thought about how to raise liberty-loving kids. I am sure most parents want their children to buy into and live by their values. In Christian families, the parents are reminded that if you raise your children in the ways of God then they will not depart from it. Of course all children will rebel to some degree, but the hope is that they will return to a solid foundation when they get older, especially when they have children of their own and wish to pass down morals and values to their children. I am sure socialist parents want to pass down their values to their children as well. The rub is libertarian and conservative parents have to contend with statist world views from media (in all forms) and schools. My hope is that in some small way I might help parents by being a reference for identifying sources that teach the ideas of liberty.

I hope you enjoy my blog and here is a fun quiz on the Constitution (click on image):

The average score is a little over seven; not too bad and probably better than David Souter would do.