Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling, by John Taylor Gatto. Copyright 1992, 2002. Paperback. 103 pages.
This is an explosive book. Its premise is that public schools (more properly known as government schools) achieve exactly what they are designed to achieve. They turn out docile citizens who will meekly do what they are told, without questioning authority. They will not learn to think. They will learn that the key to success lies in doing what those in authority command, when they command it, all for the good of the group. When we send our children to government schools we are aiding the state in turning out "citizens" who believe in the virtues of the group over the individual, who will be punished for any ability to think on their own and who will endure twelve years of all sorts of "values" at school that we would be aghast to teach them at home.
Gatto makes the argument that reform of public schools is not the solution. "Reform" is not the solution because government schools do what they are supposed to do. The solution is to not subject your children to this process. We need less public schooling, not more. We need to abandon compulsory attendance laws. We need to instill respect to family and friends, not the school authorities, who often undermine the teachings of the parents. We need to abandon the idea that the government can discover the "one right way" of educating our children. Gatto believes in a free market in education, and the multiple approaches to satisfying the "customers" that a market inspires. Not the "one size fits all" approach that characterizes the governments approach.
There is a lot to absorb in a book barely 100 pages long. This review only touches on the ideas Gatto expounds upon. Please give the book a read. I believe you will never look at public schools in the same light again after you have read it.
Economics in One Lesson, by Henry Hazlitt. Copyright 1946. Hardback. 222 pages.
If you are going to read only one book on economics, this is the one. It is an examination of economic fallacies. Unfortunately, these are economic fallacies you still hear falling from the mouths of tax and spend politicians, and even from the news media. It is amazing to me that a book written over fifty years ago can still make so many useful points. The essay called "The Broken Window" is worth the cost of the book in itself. Read this book and you will be well armed, indeed.
The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein. Copyright 1966. Paperback. 302 pages.
Heinlein's writings are filled with liberty loving heroes. This particular novel is explicitly libertarian. The moon (Luna) is a twenty-first century penal colony for earth. And on the earth, in the twenty-first century, those who don't take orders well are the criminals. This novel is filled with both action and philosophy. Read it for inspiration.
Probability Broach, by L. Neil Smith. Copyright 1980. Paperback. 273 pages.
I love this book every time I read it. And I have read it more than once. More than twice, actually. Smith writes about a society where liberty is taken for granted, and taken seriously. The hero is a cop from Colorado who falls through a broach in the time-space continuum and into an alternative earth where the society is based on a serious appreciation for individual freedom. If you have ever wondered what such a paradise might be like, join Win Bear, our protagonist, and go for a visit. I promise you will enjoy the ride.
Unintended Consequences, John Ross. Copyright 1996. Hardback. 861 pages.
This is one of my favorite books. It is not for the faint of heart. It is the story of Henry Bowman, member of the gun culture. Anyone with an interest in guns will enjoy this book. Anyone with an interest in liberty should read this book. Its focus is somewhat concentrated, but it is a great read. I love it when an author successfully weaves philosophy and a good story together. Through the story of the life of Henry Bowman, the author clarifies the role of weapons (and individuals willing to use them) in the securing of liberty. It is also an indictment of the government's misguided war on guns. If this book doesn't make you think, you're probably already dead.
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