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No, I’m Not Saying This is Like Nazi Germany—Just Listen

I shared some thoughts on Facebook this morning that I think are worthy of expanding on and sending out to you guys.

Here’s what I wrote:

Milton Mayer was a Jewish American journalist of German descent who interviewed a variety of Germans, with different backgrounds and circumstances, to better understand how Nazism became a mass movement.

By the end of his project, Mayer observed that he could “see a little better how Nazism overcame Germany—not by attack from without or by subversion from within, but with a whoop and a holler.”

”Each step was so small,” one of Mayer’s interviewees explained, “so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, ‘regretted,’ that, unless one were detached from the whole process from the beginning, unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these ‘little measures’ that no ‘patriotic German’ could resent must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. One day it is over his head.”

“Each act, each occasion, is worse than the last,” he continued, “but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join with you in resisting somehow.”

You can see where this is going, right?

“You don’t want to act, or even talk, alone; you don’t want to ‘go out of your way to make trouble.’ Why not?—Well, you are not in the habit of doing it.…”

And here’s where the interviewee lands his sucker punch at humanity:

“But the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes. That’s the difficulty. If the last and worst act of the whole regime had come immediately after the first and smallest, thousands, yes, millions would have been sufficiently shocked—if, let us say, the gassing of the Jews in ’43 had come immediately after the ‘German Firm’ stickers on the windows of non-Jewish shops in ’33. But of course this isn’t the way it happens. In between come all the hundreds of little steps, some of them imperceptible, each of them preparing you not to be shocked by the next. Step C is not so much worse than Step B, and, if you did not make a stand at Step B, why should you at Step C? And so on to Step D.”

Guys, are we paying attention?

I get that it’s “dramatic” to compare things to Nazi Germany. I know that people from all political parties have made it a habit of calling every leader they don’t like “Hitler” for so long that it’s just kind of an “eyeroll” thing now.

But here’s the thing. Hitler (and others like him) actually did rise to power. They actually did manipulate their populations into accepting their evil designs by small measures until they had the power to do the terrible things that they did. There’s a reason we know the “frog in boiling water” analogy. There’s a pattern wicked governments follow in bringing people into bondage and getting away with (literal) murder.

Are we paying attention? Are we heeding the warnings we’re seeing?

Just yesterday I saw two stories that highlight how quickly things have slipped into something we as a country would absolutely not have accepted only eight months ago.

In Moscow, Idaho, several people were arrested for holding a “sing in” as a way to protest the Mayor extending an emergency order that the people feel is unjustified. As I write this, Lataha County has had 377 total COVID cases, and zero deaths. This video shows the arrest of a couple who were simply singing with the rest of the peaceful demonstrators. Another, longer video, shows the couple’s peaceful interactions with the two arresting officers in the moments before they were cuffed.

How are we here? When did this become okay?

Another video shows a woman at her child’s grade school football game. She is sitting on the bleachers with her mother and kids. An officer approaches her for not wearing a mask (even though she is “socially distanced” from others and only sitting with her family) and an argument ensues between the woman and the officer.

The argument ends when the very small woman is tased. In front of her mom and kids. While exactly zero people make any move to stop what is happening.

I think that’s the part that really gets to me about these videos. Everyone just stands there. Everyone just lets it happen. Watching bystanders mumble to themselves about the injustice of it, or take cellphone video, or talk in whispers with those around them makes it really hard for me to not draw comparisons between what I am seeing happen here in my country (and around the world) and the things that Milton Mayer learned in his interviews.

We know—we’ve always known—that governments have a tendency to become authoritarian. The Founders warned us. History has warned us. Survivors of fascist regimes have warned us. I even wrote an entire Tuttle Twins book about it, and an adult book about the way governments use fear to manipulate people into allowing (and even welcoming) terrible usurpations of rights.

When people are arrested for singing hymns without covering their faces, we have a problem.

When mothers are tased in front of their children for not covering their faces while sitting outside, we have a problem.

When does it stop? How much farther is it going to go?

What are we going to do about it?

I think we are closely reaching a point of no return where if society is conditioned to accept all the small/medium violations of our rights, there’s no point they will object to large ones that follow.

What will you do about it?

— Connor

Why do People Freak Out Over Supreme Court Nominees?

By now I’m pretty sure everyone has heard about the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I’ve seen a lot of people talking about how this is just another thing in the long line of awful and unexpected events that mark the now infamous “2020,” but I’ve gotta say—I really didn’t find the passing of an octogenarian with cancer to be terribly shocking.

Some people are totally freaking out about it though. Like this woman who posted a now viral video of herself driving her car and reacting to just having heard of Justice Ginsburg’s death. She has a total meltdown (major language warning) at the fact that the Supreme Court justice couldn’t make it to 2021 (presumably so that her spot on the court would be filled by Biden rather than Trump).

Screaming Car Lady certainly isn’t the only person who is melting down over the idea that Trump will be nominating a new justice soon. I’ve seen a lot of really creepy tweets by people who think that burning the entire country down is a totally reasonable response to the president filling a vacancy on the court, and I just keep coming back to the same thing: how did we get to a place where people believe that their freedom, and even their very lives, somehow hinge on the letter next to the names of the people who sit on the Supreme Court?

Peter Schiff recently said, “If Supreme Court justices did their jobs properly their political party affiliation would be irrelevant. It’s only because they ignore the Constitution and decide cases based on politics, not law, that it’s an issue. The Supreme Court is the branch that has failed America the most.”

This thinking affects members of both major parties and seems to be especially prevalent when someone from whatever team isn’t theirs is in power.

Back in 2008, Ron Paul said, “It’s sad that so many Americans see their freedoms as dependent on a single Supreme Court justice. Federal Judges were never meant to wield the tremendous power that they do in modern America. Our Founders would find it inconceivable that a handful of unelected, unaccountable federal judges can decide social policy for the entire nation,” and it still holds true today. If anything the fear that people have of the “wrong” party filling the Supreme Court has only intensified.

This Supreme Court hysteria is just the latest in a long line of evidences that show how woefully ignorant most Americans are about the way the country is supposed to work—the legal boundaries that elected (and appointed) “leaders” are supposed to stay within when doing their jobs.

How many people have spent the last several months blaming Donald Trump for every COVID-19 death because he allowed the governors to manage the pandemic on their own—without issuing federal mandates? Ironically, it’s often the same people who call him a “dictator” and a “tyrant,” which is kind of weird to me. Why would you want someone you view as “literally Hitler” to localize more power at the federal level?

Anyway, I digress…

We have to do better when it comes to teaching young people about the role of government in a free society. The founders did a pretty decent job at laying out a foundation that has the potential to keep people more free than most other forms of government, but despite all the warnings they left us, we’ve still allowed it to be twisted and bent by those who are “just looking out for us” into something that is hardly recognizable anymore.

This is one of the reasons we took it all the way back to Frederic Bastiat when, in our first book, The Tuttle Twins Learn About The Law, we set out to teach kids the very most basic principles of a government that guarantees the people the most freedoms and protects their natural rights. It’s why we talked about natural law, and true law, and why if something is wrong for an individual to do, then its also wrong for people in government to do.

I suspect it has been a very long time since these ideas have been talked about and promoted in schools, and the result is evident all over social media and the news. People have no idea what it’s supposed to look like so they just keep begging for more government to “fix” their lives for them. The idea that they can fix their own lives, and that society can fix its own problems through cooperation and persuasion (something we talk about in The Tuttle Twins and the Fate of the Future) is entirely foreign to them.

They truly think that the only way to make things “better” (whatever better looks like to them) is to appeal to an authority who will enact a law or a tax that will force and coerce others into giving them what they want. And its not going to go away—this backwards thinking—until we replace all of this ignorance with knowledge.

I don’t think people are a lost cause. I think they just don’t know a better way.

We can help them by introducing them to the empowering principles of freedom and liberty like the ones taught in the Tuttle Twins books, and by setting good examples for others by the way we choose to interact with people with whom we disagree.

If we can help just one person see a better way, we’ve changed the world for good that day.

That’s the thought that motivates me every day.

— Connor

Six Months to Flatten the Curve

Happy six month anniversary of “two weeks to flatten the curve!”

Is it flat yet? Or do we just not talk about that anymore?

The other day I had the chance to visit with some teenagers and the topic of lockdowns and mask mandates and curve flattening came up. A sixteen year old girl said, “It’s so funny because everyone just continues to go along with it, and yet the virus is hardly even in the news anymore. All the news stories I see are about the election, or riots and forest fires, or why capitalism is bad, but you’d think that if we were actually in the midst of some massive, life-threatening pandemic that justifies all of this (waiving her arms around to indicate basically everything) then reporting on the virus would still be a top priority. It seems like its just kind of taken a backseat to everything else. It’s almost like people are just kind of, over it, but still going along with all the rules and restrictions out of habit.”

She went on to call it “weird.” I have different words that I would probably choose to use, but we’ll go with “weird” in the name of keeping things family-friendly. 😉

On Wednesday, Yelp release its latest Economic Impact Report. The news was not good:

As of Aug, 31, 163,735 businesses have indicated on Yelp that they have closed. That’s down from the 180,000 that closed at the very beginning of the pandemic. However, it actually shows a 23% increase in the number of closures since mid-July.

In addition to monitoring closed businesses, Yelp also takes into account the businesses whose closures have become permanent. That number has steadily increased throughout the past six months, now reaching 97,966, representing 60% of closed businesses that won’t be reopening.

“Overall, Yelp’s data shows that business closures have continued to rise with a 34% increase in permanent closures since our last report in mid-July,” Justin Norman, vice president of data science at Yelp, told CNBC.

This is pretty terrible news. That number—97,966—is one I just keep getting stuck on it. How many people’s entire life work is encapsulated in it? How many of those people would be expanding their businesses, building their dream home, or helping their kids through school so they don’t have to get into student loan debt? How many people did those 97,966 businesses employ? And what are all those workers doing to support themselves and their families now?

It’s no secret that I’ve been against the lockdowns since day one. I’m the guy who wrote a kids book about why central planning is so terrible and all the harm it causes. Even good intentions and noble causes, when forced upon the masses, can lead to bad, unintended consequences.

Then I wrote another one about how markets can’t be controlled by government and how human action can’t be planned or directed by some central authority. Not only have the lockdowns been devastating to businesses, but there’s been a waterfall effect of domestic abuse, and mental health numbers quite literally skyrocketing.

Government has caused the largest scale suffering that I’ve witnessed in my lifetime, and in many places it doesn’t show any sign of stopping. These tyrant-governors seem to be totally unashamed of their willingness to use fear to push their agendas with many “COVID-19 regulations” that can’t be in any reasonable way linked to actual virus-related anything.

When I look around and see a lot of people really not understanding how burning a person’s business to the ground has any effect on the life of the business owner because, “they have insurance,” and when I see people in the streets demanding free… well, free everything… it’s easy to get discouraged. It’s certainly evident to me that today’s youth have been fed on a diet of anti-capitalist and anti-freedom propaganda. If you stop and listen to the things they’re saying—they really believe that freedom is selfish and capitalism is evil and they actually think that they’re some type of revolutionaries trying to usher in a more fair, tolerant, and equal world.

I’m encouraged by conversations with many teenagers, though, who seem to have had parents who took the time to teach them, and talk to them about the fallacies being peddled in school and media. The sixteen-year-old I talked about earlier told me that a lot of her peers are sick of all the violence and destruction—they don’t agree with the anti-capitalist, race-fueled anger and upheaval. She said she sees a lot of kids her age on TikTok and other social media platforms denouncing claims that racism is rampant in the U.S. and calling for an end to divisive agendas and pro-socialist messaging.

Maybe she just happens to have a really good group of friends. But maybe it’s true and there is a rising group of young people who see the world a little more clearly and aren’t going to be easily recruited into ideologies that lead to nothing but a loss of freedom and economic ruin. At this point I’m willing to take good news where I can find it, and I’m encouraged at the thought of young people who are thinking for themselves and using their voices to promote peace and goodness.

I think a lot of young adults have just been raised with agenda-driven educators and celebrities being the primary voices in their upbringing. Why are we surprised when they grow up angry and entitled?

The good news is that we have the power to shape the rising generation, and I think we’ve already got a really great group of kids to work with. The fact that we’ve sold over a million Tuttle Twins books tells me a lot about the role that parents, grandparents, and good teachers are taking in making sure kids are growing up learning true principles.

It’s easy to look around and feel beaten down, but I think there are really good days ahead, and I think our awesome kids are going to blow us away with what they’ll do. We just have to give them the resources to succeed and they’ll take it from there.

It’s exciting. Do you agree?

— Connor

Is it Time to Bring Kids Home?

Check this out!

A parent took to Twitter to share an experience she recently had:

My daughter turned around yesterday to grab her charger and her teacher immediately snapped and said she needed to be facing forward at all times. I said, “Go ahead, let the computer die!” in the background and the teacher quickly apologized. Didn’t realize I sit through every class!

Another parent responded saying, “Zoom school is really showing how much of American education is just about controlling and punishing children and not actually, you know, teaching and educating them.”

We used this series of tweets in one of our social media posts and a parent shared her opinion that, “The mass exodus of kids from government schools to unschool is an unintended consequence of media fear hype over the virus. Now there are going to be free thinking kids with an actual education who are not indoctrinated in socialist political views of liberal teachers and the establishment is terrified!”

I don’t know that I think the public-education-powers-that-be are terrified of parents choosing education freedom—they seem too arrogant for that—but I do think it’s true that parents are opting out of this en masse. The data has certainly shown a trend toward parents making the decision to homeschool permanently as a result of lockdowns and virtual learning requirements. I suspect that this trend will only continue as the months wear on and parents have more and more experiences like the woman in the tweet.

Obviously, not everyone can—or wants to—homeschool their children. I get it. I myself am a product of public schools, and I suppose that’s evidence that kids can still turn out okay after getting off the conveyor belt.

But it’s especially important for public school parents to be wide-eyed and aware about the problems their children will experience and the forces at play in the system they are a part of.

Some schools—apparently unhappy with parents knowing what is going on in classrooms and then sharing their experiences on social media—have made parents sign forms agreeing to not monitor their kids online classes. This article is just one example of many which lay out the supposed reasoning.

Officials at all county schools are asking parents to sign forms agreeing not to watch these virtual classes.

The Tennessee Star received a copy of such a form this week.

“RCS strives to present these opportunities in a secure format that protects student privacy to the greatest extent possible, however because these meetings will occur virtually RCS is limited in its ability to fully control certain factors such as non-student observers that may be present in the home of a student participating in the virtual meeting,” according to the form.

“RCS strongly discourages non student observation of online meetings due to the potential of confidential information about a student being revealed.”

The form asks parents for their signature and warns that “violation of this agreement may result in RCS removing my child from the virtual meeting.”

Would you sign the form? I’m pretty sure this would have been the proverbial straw for me if my kids were in public school.

The article also includes a super creepy tidbit at the end about $1 million in funds set aside for COVID relief that will be used to support well-being checks on kids since they will be out of school for so long. Yikes.

A lot of parents and good teachers have, for a long time now, been concerned that the public education system seems to place their role as child-rearer above that of parents. John Taylor Gatto once said,

Government schooling is the most radical adventure in history. It kills the family by monopolizing the best times of childhood and by teaching disrespect for home and parents.

I remember the first time I read that quote—it hit me like a bolt of lightning. It changed my life.

Knowing that a well-respected, award-winning public school teacher of thirty years would make this statement woke me up to how awful a situation our country was in.

Naturally, when I decided to tackle education in The Tuttle Twins and the Education Vacation I chose to base it on Gatto’s The Underground History of American Education, and feature him as a main character. Who better to teach the Tuttle family about compulsory education’s problematic past or its founders’ vision for the future than the guy who literally wrote the book on it?

I know a lot of parents are kind of reeling still because of all the ways government overreach has upended their lives. For a lot of us, seeing the things that schools are doing right now isn’t really a surprise—although I’ll admit that even I’m a little shocked at how brazen they are—as much as it’s a confirmation of things that we already knew (or suspected) were happening. Now that it’s happening live, via Zoom, and in front of parents, a lot of people are waking up.

Turns out it wasn’t just the crazy homeschool moms and conspiracy theorists talking about schools abusing their power—now the general public is realizing that it’s happening. I was shocked to see comments on the article about the school in Tennessee.

A guy named Kaleb C said, “I think parents should check on their kid once in awhile to see how they are doing, but I don’t think the parents should watch them the whole class or the whole period,” and another person said, “I agree, and with the parents staying in the entire period/class, they could give the kid answers or help they don’t need, having their child learn nothing.”

Wait, what?

Maybe not everyone is waking up—most adults are a product of this system and it’s super hard to break away from the indoctrination they were fed through all of their youth and childhood. Still, I know that there are tons of people who are seeing clearly for the first time—and that’s really encouraging.

Everyday I get text messages and emails from parents telling me that they are new homeschool families and they love it so much they can’t imagine ever going back to the way things were before. I love getting messages like that.

I think if there was one piece of encouragement I’d give to families who are on the fence about homeschool, or who are struggling with this dystopian “new normal” it would be this:

It doesn’t matter what you think your abilities are (or aren’t) so stop worrying about that. You are qualified to teach your kids, and not only that, but you are the most qualified to teach your kids. I know that sounds crazy, but it’s true. No one knows them like you do. No one understands their strengths and weaknesses like you do. It’s okay to trust your gut on this and do what you feel led to do, and it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. Of course there are things that you aren’t awesome at—that’s why there’s the internet. Viola! Problem solved.

There are practically unlimited resources for homeschool families these days. You don’t have to have a ton of time or a ton of money to homeschool your kids anymore—many companies offer free, or really inexpensive resources that you can weave into your curriculum. Even we’ve got an economics curriculum that provides weekly, age-specific lessons for everyone in your family for only $7.99/mo.

Really all it takes to homeschool your kids is patience and an internet connection. And probably some snacks—homeschoolers are really big on snacking. 🙂

Maybe everything is a total wreck right now. We’ve certainly seen what damage can be done when governments are allowed to run amok—using fear to manipulate people into submission as they implement their pet projects and advance their agendas. But our homes and families don’t have to be a wreck. In fact, they can even be a haven—a shelter from the insanity swirling all around us—if we put our focus on the things that really matter.

I don’t know about you, but I find myself caring less and less about whether or not my kids obey power-hungry adults in positions of “authority,” and more and more about building the bonds within our family and teaching them to trust their own abilities and their own instincts.

I’ll close with another quote by Gatto from his 1991 book, Dumbing Us Down. I think it’s one of the most prophetic things he said:

“If we use schooling to break children away from parents—and make no mistake, that has been the central function of schools since John Cotton announced it as the purpose of the Bay Colony schools in 1650 and Horace Mann announced it as the purpose of Massachusetts schools in 1850—we’re going to continue to have the horror show we have right now.”

Horror show, indeed, Mr. Gatto.

I think it’s time to opt out. I think it’s time to bring kids home.

For those who can’t, God speed—we’re with you, and here to help you counteract what your kids will be taught (things like the greatness of government, the beauty of socialism, the horrible racism that undermines everything the Founding Fathers did, etc.)

Parents who can accommodate homeschooling should give it serious consideration, especially these days. Those who can’t, deserve our strongest support. Let’s do what’s right by our children, come what may.

— Connor

Trump Hates the Troops and Sturgis Infected a Quarter-Million—or Not

Are you as sick of the “news” as I am?

I don’t think it’s a stretch for me to say that most of us have become pretty skeptical towards journalists, and journalism in general. In fact, as I wrote that, I had to resist the urge to write the word journalism in quotes—that’s how snarky I’ve become.

“Journalism.” Sigh…

I feel like I’ve developed a pretty good ability to almost subconsciously weed through biases and half-truths in order to get to the meat and potatoes of a news story—to sift out the pertinent information without really seeing all the partisan junk. But even in spite of how much we all know about the serious decline in honest journalism there are still things that take me off guard and just shock me at how blatantly bad the media has become at being impartial and honest.

Case in point: this article from The Atlantic that named “anonymous sources” in a story about President Trump supposedly saying terrible things about service members who had served and died in combat.

When President Donald Trump canceled a visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris in 2018, he blamed rain for the last-minute decision, saying that “the helicopter couldn’t fly” and that the Secret Service wouldn’t drive him there. Neither claim was true.

Trump rejected the idea of the visit because he feared his hair would become disheveled in the rain, and because he did not believe it important to honor American war dead, according to four people with firsthand knowledge of the discussion that day. In a conversation with senior staff members on the morning of the scheduled visit, Trump said, “Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers.” In a separate conversation on the same trip, Trump referred to the more than 1,800 marines who lost their lives at Belleau Wood as “suckers” for getting killed.

Look, I’m not saying that Trump did or didn’t say these things, and I don’t think it would be entirely out of the realm of possibility for him to want to protect his hair from an unflattering gust of wind. But this is the sitting president of the United States, and these are pretty awful things that he’s being accused of saying and doing—you would think that in order for this story to get air time there would be at least some validation of the claims being leveled?

Are we really just at a place now where major magazines can say whatever they want so long as they attach “according to four people with firsthand knowledge of the discussion that day…” somewhere? It also struck me as weird that the whole thing supposedly happened four years ago. The article really just seems like a totally unsubstantiated hit piece, slapped together with the sole purpose being to make Trump look really terrible.

The thing is—it worked! This story got plastered everywhere, and nothing anyone could say would change people’s minds about it.

Not to sound like a conspiracy theorist or anything, but the great Pelosi “Maskless Salon Setup” sure disappeared quick when this “story” broke.

Hmm…

In another example of totally lax standards, we’ve got this article—which got a ton of playtime from everyone from Fox News to MSNBC—blaming the motorcycle rally in Sturgis, SD last month for “super-spreading” the COVID-19 virus to as many as 266,796 people. The headline is shocking and makes the claim that the 450,000 bikers who attended the ten-day event are directly responsible for over a quarter of a million COVID cases and up to $12 billion in healthcare costs.

Those are stunning numbers! Until you actually look at the study (which the article says is unclear if it has been peer reviewed or not—whatever that means) and learn that the whole thing is just based on worst-case-scenario modeling relying heavily on “could” and “might” and cell phone tower pings. And not much more.

Modeling that paints a worst-case-scenario without actual scientific backing—now where have we seen that before? It seems so familiar.

Facepalm.

Thankfully, some smart folks over at Reason decided to do some fact-checking and put out a counter piece to the Sturgis story. They drew some pretty important conclusions, but first they addressed the claims made by various networks and publications:

“Sturgis Motorcycle Rally was a  ‘superspreading event’ that cost public health $12.2 billion,” tweeted The Hill.

“The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally held in South Dakota last month may have caused 250,000 new coronavirus cases,” said NBC News.

“The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally represents a situation where many of the ‘worst-case scenarios’ for superspreading occurred simultaneously,” the researchers write in the new paper, titled “The Contagion Externality of a Superspreading Event: The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and COVID-19.

“Indeed, these types of headlines ran everywhere, and unfortunately, most people didn’t get too far past the headlines before assuming that those “selfish” bikers had literally caused harm to hundreds of thousands of people because of their flagrant disregard for public health and their responsibility to “do their part” in keeping “us” safe.

But when you look at what the study actually found, things look a lot different:

To get to the astronomical number of cases allegedly spread because of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, the researchers analyzed “anonymized cellphone data to track the smartphone pings from non-residents and movement of those before and after the event,” notes Newsweek. “The study then linked those who attended and traveled back to their home states, and compared changes in coronavirus trends after the rally’s conclusion.”

Essentially, the researchers assumed that new spikes in cases in areas where people went post-rally must have been caused by those rally attendees, despite there being no particular evidence that this was the case. The paper, which has not been peer-reviewed, failed to account for simultaneous happenings—like schools in South Dakota reopening, among other things—that could have contributed to coronavirus spread in some of the studied areas.

The researchers also assumed a $46,000 price tag for each person infected to calculate the $12.2 billion public health cost of the event—but this figure would only make sense if every person had a severe case requiring hospitalization.

South Dakota resident and epidemiologist Joshua Clayton said that, the results of the IZA paper “do not align with what we know,” and what we know looks more like this:

According to South Dakota health officials, 124 new cases in the state—including one fatal case—were directly linked to the rally. Overall, COVID-19 cases linked to the Sturgis rally were reported in 11 states as of September 2, to a tune of at least 260 new cases, according to The Washington Post.

Now, it can be argued that even one death is too many deaths. It can also be argued that people should be free to choose to move about the country and live their lives assuming risk as they see fit. There are also about a thousand arguments in between, and I have no doubt they are being made in forums and threads all over the country as I type.

But the example in both of these stories—Trump’s remarks about war-dead, and the alleged Sturgis rally super-spread—of lax standards of truth, with a seeming panache for the dramatic and scandalous, is something I find pretty unsettling. I have seen first-hand how successful the media and politicians have been in manipulating young people into believing things about the world that simply aren’t true.

See the shocking rise in the popularity of socialism and communism as an example.

When we can’t count on journalists to tell the truth, or scientists to operate scientifically, what can we do to help keep our kids from being manipulated and used by the power-hungry elites and their seemingly endless mechanisms of propaganda?

I think the simplest answer also happens to be the most likely to prove hugely successful. We can teach them to think for themselves.

One of the things I hear a lot about the Tuttle Twins books is that people find it a little unbelievable that Ethan and Emily are allowed to make such important decisions and handle as many of their problems on their own as they are. Some people think it’s a little crazy to trust kids to figure things out to the extent that Mr. and Mrs. Tuttle trust theirs, but I don’t think it’s crazy or unbelievable at all! I believe that kids are capable of understanding and solving really complex problems, and that often all they need is the ability to discern for themselves truth from fiction and to trust their own moral compass.

Our books teach kids that they need to learn the way the world works for themselves and that they should never just blindly follow what someone else says or does. I think if we can arm the next generation with a healthy distrust of government, and an equally healthy spirit of self-reliance, then they will have in their arsenal powerful tools to protect them from the lies and manipulations of those in positions of authority and influence.

I don’t think media is going to become any more trustworthy or honest than it is now—in fact I suspect it will just continue to get worse—but I think that our kids can do a lot better than previous generations at learning to spot propaganda and rejecting it before it can be used to stoke fear, limit freedom, or cause them to see their fellowman as an enemy.

All they need from us is encouragement to trust themselves to know what’s right, and what’s wrong, and to question things and reason them out for themselves.

And maybe reading a dozen or so Tuttle Twins books can help, too 😉

— Connor

Capitalism According to Teen Vogue

Happy Friday!

Before everyone signs off for a long weekend, I want to show you guys something.

Teen Vogue has an article out right now called, What ‘Capitalism’ Is and How It Affects People. I made the mistake of reading it, and now I’m sharing it with you because I think it’s important for parents to know this stuff is out there. Also because I don’t want to suffer alone.

The article starts out claiming to define capitalism but they show their hand in the first sentence with their little add-on to the actual definition when they say,

Capitalism is defined as an economic system in which a country’s trade, industry, and profits are controlled by private companies, instead of by the people whose time and labor powers those companies. The United States and many other nations around the world are capitalist countries, but capitalism is not the only economic system available.

Call me crazy, but I don’t recall “… instead of by the people whose time and labor powers those companies” being part of any real definition of capitalism. So here we are, only one sentence into an article meant to educate teens on capitalism and they’ve already thrown in some Marxist catch-phrasing..

And people say real journalism is dead…

The intro finishes with the author assuring the reader that they are being presented facts and unbiased information so that they can make their own decisions:

But it’s important to explore what capitalism actually involves and the arguments for and against it, so you can make your own decisions about the world you’d like to live in.

No pressure, kids—make sure you choose wisely. No pressure, kids. (Cue dramatic music)

The first paragraph under the heading, Where Did Capitalism Come From, paints a super-rosey picture of the origins of free trade. And of course manages to blame it for slavery, colonialism, and imperilaism.

The origins of capitalism are complicated, and stretch back to the 16th century, when the British systems of power largely collapsed after the Black Death, a deadly plague that killed off up to 60% of Europe’s entire population. A newly formed class of merchants began to trade with foreign countries, and this newfound demand for exports hurt local economies and began to dictate overall production and pricing of goods. It also led to the spread of colonialism, slavery, and imperialism. The death of feudalism — a hierarchical system often seen as oppressive that kept poor people bonded to their masters’ land, which they farmed in exchange for a place to live and military protection — also left rural British peasants with no homes and no work, which eventually funneled them away from the countryside and into urban centers. These former farm workers then had to sell their labor in a newly competitive work environment in order to survive, while the state worked in concert with the new capitalists to establish a maximum wage and “clamp down on beggars.”

So far, so good, right? Teens reading this now believe that capitalism is responsible for all of the western world’s worst offenses. Somehow, competition and trading of labor for life’s necessities and comforts is painted as unfair or bad. Working for what you want/need—oh, the horror!

Next we are treated to the writer’s opinion of “what it means to be a capitalist.” This is rich:

Individual capitalists are typically wealthy people who have a large amount of capital (money or other financial assets) invested in business, and who benefit from the system of capitalism by making increased profits and thereby adding to their wealth. A capitalist nation is dominated by the free market, which is an economic system in which both prices and production are dictated by corporations and private companies in competition with one another, and places a heavy focus on private property, economic growth, freedom of choice, and limited government intervention.

Just in case kids are deaf to the dog whistles thus far, things are clarified in the next sentence with what amounts to a, “this is what team you should be on” breakdown.

Generally, those to the right of the political spectrum tend to be pro-capitalist; those on the left veer toward anti-capitalism.

Honestly, someone could go through this entire article and refute every single line of it. I’ve worked in politics for a long time now, and I know a lot of Democrats—I wonder what they would say about being labeled “anti-capitalist?” I know there is a lot of disagreement right now between Republicans and Democrats, but I think it’s a stretch to imply to young people that if they support capitalism then they are on Donald Trump’s team. That just seems incredibly dishonest.

The article goes on to paint capitalism as selfish and greedy and harmful to society. It uses the word “collective” at least a dozen times in a positive way, and, of course, makes socialism sound like the answer to all the injustices of the world—the obvious only way forward for a progressive, caring, and socially just society. And yes, Marx is quoted liberally.

Sometimes I still have to pinch myself. How—in just one generation—did socialism become something that people are actively and passionately (and successfully!) vying for? It’s hard not to feel like we are on a collision course with truly dark times if something isn’t done to stop the maniacs driving this train.

Kids are fed on a steady diet of this drivel in their schools, their music, their movies, and their magazines. This isn’t just “a narrative” out there—it is THE narrative. Teen Vogue has over three MILLION followers on each of their social media accounts. Young people are reading this stuff, and there doesn’t seem to be anyone (except concerned parents) countering it. Kids aren’t even being given a chance to learn the truth about socialism and communism. They don’t even know all of the misery, starvation, and death these ideologies are responsible for in every single country they’ve ever been implemented.

No one is teaching them the truth.

When I wrote The Tuttle Twins and the Search for Atlas, I thought the inclusion of the circus calliope player and his tales of life in Soviet Russia would offer an interesting subplot that would add some depth to the story and maybe spark some good conversation between kids and their parents—I had no idea how soon we would find ourselves quite literally fighting to preserve our liberty and right to live our lives without ever having to experience bread lines for ourselves.

The messages in our books just keep proving their timeliness. I have to be honest—I kind of wish they didn’t. Every day I get emails from parents, thanking me for giving them these resources, and sharing horror stories of the worksheets their kids have brought home from school, or the overreach they’re fighting in their communities. Our readers are out there fighting the good fight—you guys inspire me to keep writing books and looking for new ways to share the principles of liberty and the free market.

As disheartening and downright frustrating as these types of articles can be, at least we have a clear picture of what the enemy looks like. For a long time, talk of The Great Reset, and the socialization of America, were viewed as conspiracy theories and those who were pushing these agendas had to do so with great subtlety. At least now we know what we are up against and can fight it head on and in broad daylight.

I still think we’ll win.

— Connor


There is No “Social Justice.” There is No “Racial Justice.” There is Only Justice.

 

Happy Monday!

My family went to Lake Tahoe for vacation last week, and it was awesome! I should probably take a break more often… 🙂

Being out in nature is a great time to clear my head, reprioritize, and make sense of some of the things going on in the world. This morning I was thinking about an article I read about how capitalism needs a reset so that it can merge with socialism in order to give more power to government to ensure racial and social justice.

I’ll include a few excerpts, but the premise is basically that there’s too much inequality in the world, people can’t better their lives through hard work, and so the world needs a reset of capitalism in order to make things fair for everyone. By “fair,” of course, they are talking about equality of outcome, not equality of opportunity under law—we already have that. And for many, that’s not good enough.

The piece opens with this:

Wealth needs to be more broadly redistributed.

Governments will need to intervene more to ensure better and fairer outcomes from private sector investments.

New institutions need to incorporate profound reforms to ensure better racial integration.

Capitalism as we know it needs to be reformed. The growing discontent at the ideology that has created so much wealth and progress on the one hand, and yet so much inequality and instability on the other hand, is causing increasingly frequent social disruptions across the world. The COVID-19 crisis has laid bare most of these dysfunctions, ranging from uneven access to healthcare, education, economic opportunities, and social progress, to growing inequality among and within nations and racial and ethnic groups. At the centre of these multiple crises lies the tension between privilege and meritocracy.

Nothing creepy about that, right? I love how they go on to talk about capitalism in the past tense—like we are all just in agreement that it didn’t work and that it should be abandoned. They try to assure us that they aren’t advocating communism, but, call me crazy, I just don’t know if I really trust these guys:

Firstly, the slow death of capitalism does not equate to a resurgence of communism. However, rethinking capitalism, or giving capitalism a “Great Reset” as World Economic Forum Chairman Klaus Schwab has suggested, means that capitalism and socialism will need to merge to create a productive and inclusive economic and social model.

Wealth has become abundant, thanks to capitalism, but it now needs to be more broadly redistributed, as socialists have long called for.

In the new institutional context, governments will need to intervene more to ensure better and fairer outcomes from private sector investments. One way this can be done is by introducing a universal basic income (UBI) funded by taxing wealth and passive income, and by making better use of public savings.

Oh, by the way, this article is from the World Economic Forum. It’s not like I pulled it from some super-lefty opinion columnist’s anti-capitalist rant in The San Francisco Chronicle or something. So now that they’ve established that in order to make up for all the problems that capitalism has caused we need government-mandated redistribution of wealth and a UBI, they go on to talk about “white privilege” and the need to ensure equality of outcome across the world:

On systemic racism, new institutions need to incorporate profound reforms to ensure better racial integration and to rectify centuries of accumulated prejudice to colonized countries and to minority groups, especially black and brown communities. It is important to acknowledge “white privilege” and to break the myth of pure meritocracy that has persisted for too long as an explanation for not only the divergence in outcomes between rich and poor countries, but between rich and poor people along all dimensions of society.

They’ve even found a way to bring COVID-19 into their narrative—that’s shocking (eye roll). They’re essentially crediting the global pandemic with bringing to light the “defining challenge” of capitalism, which they say is “systematic injustice.”

Systemic injustice is the defining challenge of our era of capitalism, and COVID-19 has brought it to the surface. Underneath the abundance of the few lies a high degree of inequity. Meritocracy does exist, but it is important to distinguish outcomes driven by privilege from those resulting from meritocracy and to diagnose contexts where privilege hinders meritocracy.

They offer up the solution of a new social contract (chills should go up your spine right there) to fight social injustice and, of course, government with enough power to enforce it:

With all that said, there is an urgent need to design institutions that can address the wide ranging imperfections of the world as we know it. A new social contract that accounts for the specific challenges and histories of each country but that also aims to ensure that “a rising tide lifts all boats” is needed to lay the past to rest and pave the way to a better future.

Nevermind that within the United States—and most first-world countries—there are no laws that discriminate against people based on their race, or any social identifier. No one is even making that claim.The claim being made by this powerful global organization is that we must judge people based on their skin color and their social identifiers and give or withhold privilege—in the name of justice—on that basis alone.

I swear, sometimes I feel like I’m living in the Twilight Zone! It’s like we are somehow going backward in time where now, in order to be inclusive, we must have a legal system and an economy based on how people look or who they love or what their sex is. I can’t help but picture the heroes of the civil rights movement, and the suffragettes literally rolling over in their graves right now—not to mention all the entrepreneurs and those who crafted a really great life in spite of really tough circumstances.

Surely this is not what they would have wanted.

One of my favorite pages in all the Tuttle Twins books is in The Tuttle Twins and the Road to Surfdom. It shows two images of hands with one image depicting hands chained together under the title “Collectivism,” and the other showing a handshake under the title “Individualism.” This picture is so powerful in its perfect visualization of what happens when we view and judge people based on collective traits or identifiers versus what happens when we view all people as individuals regardless of how they look, love, dress, vote, or worship.

Is the world imperfect? Absolutely.

Are there instances where racial or social inequality exist? Yep.

Should something be done about it? Yeah… I think we should all be concerned for others and look within our neighborhoods and communities—and then farther to other neighborhoods and communities—to lift those in need and help those who are in any way afflicted.

But the answer isn’t to take from the “haves” and redistribute to the “have-nots” under threat of violence at the hand of government. The answer certainly isn’t to throw away all the progress of the last century in terms of equality, and revert to some race-based, sex-based, social status-based legal and economic system. That’s moving backwards, and no amount of wordsmithing by the folks at the WEF can make it moral.

Kids are being spoon-fed this garbage in government schools throughout the world—it’s made its way into nearly every classroom, and every curricula. No one is going to save our kids from this globalist, dystopian, marxist view of “privilege” and “justice” so it’s up to parents, grandparents, and good teachers to teach them the truth.

That’s the power and purpose of the Tuttle Twins books.

I’ll close with a quote by Ron Paul. He’s talking about race here, but his words can apply equally to nearly every form of collectivism. It always demands that we see people not for who they are or for their potential as powerful, individual thinkers and doers, but as members of a group—powerless to act, think, advocate, or create outside their collective.

“Racism is simply an ugly form of collectivism, the mindset that views humans strictly as members of groups rather than individuals. Racists believe that all individuals who share superficial physical characteristics are alike: as collectivists, racists think only in terms of groups. By encouraging Americans to adopt a group mentality, the advocates of so-called “diversity” actually perpetuate racism. Their obsession with racial group identity is inherently racist. The true antidote to racism is liberty.”

Viewing people in collectivist terms isn’t empowering them—it’s enslaving them.

So let’s liberate them with individualism and by empowering each person to act and be accountable for their actions.

— Connor

The Great Reset is a Great Big Problem

Happy Wednesday!

First off, I want to send out a huge “thank you” to everyone who made our big sale last week so successful. It’s one of the best responses we’ve ever had to a sale, and I know we owe a great deal of its success to all of our awesome readers and social media followers who shared our emails and posts. I’ve said it before, and I’ll continue to say it: We have one of the best “fan bases” out there and I know how lucky we are. You guys are awesome!

I also happen to think that our readers are some of the smartest folks around, which is why I’m pretty sure that I’m not alone in a lot of the realizations that I’m coming to.

About a month ago, I wrote about the IMF and World Economic Forum and their creepy Great Reset. Back then, not many people were even aware that the leaders of business and finance around the globe were talking about how they could use COVID-19 to help usher in their plans for what essentially amounts to a new world order.

I don’t want to sound too dystopian—but it’s true. Here’s a little peek at what the outline for their upcoming summit looks like:

The Great Reset: A Unique Twin Summit to Begin 2021

– “The Great Reset” will be the theme of a unique twin summit in January 2021, convened by the World Economic Forum.

– “The Great Reset” is a commitment to jointly and urgently build the foundations of our economic and social system for a more fair, sustainable and resilient future.

– It requires a new social contract centred on human dignity, social justice and where societal progress does not fall behind economic development.

– The global health crisis has laid bare longstanding ruptures in our economies and societies, and created a social crisis that urgently requires decent, meaningful jobs.

– The twin summit will be both in-person and virtual, connecting key global governmental and business leaders in Davos with a global multistakeholder network in 400 cities around the world for a forward-oriented dialogue driven by the younger generation.

Yeah. The whole thing seriously has “New World Order” written all over it. Yuck.

Now that a little time has passed, I’m starting to hear The Great Reset talked about a little more, but the truth is, the “elite” have been talking about it for quite some time already. Heck, the head of the IMF has been hashtagging #TheGreatReset for months, and just this morning I saw a video of Tom Hanks delivering some type of virtual commencement address back in June where he talked about The Great Reset (among other equally dystopian-sounding things).

For months now, people have been saying of the COVID-19 pandemic (now epidemic), “Just wait until after the election. It will all go away then.” I’ve heard this dozens of times and see it frequently in social media posts, but here’s the thing—I don’t think it’s true at all. I almost wish it were true, because that would mean that all of the damage caused by lockdowns and freedom-limiting restrictions could be filed under “the polarization and insanity of American politics,” or something like that.

But this, I believe, is a lot bigger than anything to do with Donald Trump and Joe Biden. It’s bigger than “the most important election of our lifetimes” (as every election is absurdly called).

Last week I read that the head of the CDC estimates that up to 60 million Americans have or have already had COVID-19. He said,

“I think if you’re going to do a crude estimate, somewhere between 30 and 60 million people — but let’s let the data come out and see what the data shows.”

That article goes on to explain that what they’re finding is that for every million people diagnosed with COVID-19, there are as many as 20 million infected.

When you look at the population of the United States—which is estimated to be about 329 million people—60 million having already been infected with the virus means that more than 1 in 6 Americans either have or have already had COVID-19. Wow. Those are numbers that are putting us on a pretty great track for herd immunity.

So why does it matter?

Well, there are a lot of pretty crazy changes happening in our country right now. Even as death rates continue to plummet, governors are extending—and even in some cases expanding—their lockdown orders and restrictions.

For example, the Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster—which just opened three months ago—was shut down by North Carolina officials over the weekend “because of COVID.” The owners took to their Facebook page to break the bad news to the millions of North Carolinians, who are still under heavy lockdown, that there is now one less outdoor activity that they can enjoy:

With heavy hearts as we have taken the measures asked of us to limit the amount of people coming and other COVID precautions, we have to announce we are closed until further notice starting tomorrow, Saturday Aug 22nd, 2020 due to the State of North Carolina shutting us down stating we are an amusement park and outdoor entertainment and cannot operate.

Stuff like this is happening all over, and the damage to the economy is almost incomprehensible. And yet pretty much everywhere we look, we are seeing messaging that tells us that none of this is going away any time soon—even with low death rates, and very wide spread. Some “experts” are even saying that these restrictions are simply the way life is going to be from now on. Look at all the money being put into “COVID measures” for schools and businesses; look at all the money being spent on advertising and production of “new normal” accessories and lifestyle messaging.

Is this a worldwide conspiracy to take down capitalism and usher in a cashless society and a socialistic world standard? I mean… it sounds totally crazy, right? But if you believe what the folks over at the IMF and the WEF are saying, it sure seems like that is what’s going on—or at least what some people want to use this experience to create.

The thing that’s so frustrating is that none of this is new. We know politicians like Bernie Sanders and AOC, most of Hollywood, and most colleges have been promoting Marxism for years—trying to glamorize and normalize socialism. We also know that those in positions of power have always manipulated people through fear into submitting to things they would never have submitted to if they were in their right minds. I wrote a whole book about it (available here) a few years ago, and last year we put out The Tuttle Twins and the Fate of the Future that talks about the tendency of governments to grow more and more authoritarian until they begin to take on a role that is more predatory than protective.

But even though most of us know that governments have always used these tactics, a lot of people seem to be falling into their trap—becoming easily distracted by party politics, and mask-wars, and missing the bigger picture. We should instead be asking what, exactly, a lot of these rules and restrictions actually have to do with a virus?

There are world organizations openly talking about totally remaking society and finance on a global scale, and the things that world governments have been doing for the last eight months are quite literally creating the perfect environment for them to be successful in actually pulling it off!

We’ve got to—at the very least—learn about The Great Reset, and start talking about it to the people within our areas of influence. Why? Because people cannot oppose an action they don’t know is occuring. We stand to lose a whole lot more than many people realize, and if we can’t stop what’s coming we will be forced into a “new normal” far worse than anything we’ve yet seen.

I’m reminded of John Adams who said, “Liberty once lost is lost forever. When the People once surrender their share in the Legislature, and their Right of defending the Limitations upon the Government, and of resisting every Encroachment upon them, they can never regain it.”

Economic freedom, once lost, could very well be lost forever. That’s not the world I envision my kids inheriting. We’ve got to educate ourselves and our kids and we’ve got to take care to avoid being manipulated by fear or flashy distractions and missing the bigger picture.

I don’t think it’s too late, but I definitely think it’s time to speak up and to start really educating ourselves about the life-altering machinations of power-hungry people that have been hiding in plain sight.

— Connor

Good News Roundup

Happy Friday!

I was going to write about this crazy photo showing how kids in a local music class are now supposed to play their instruments through their masks, but I decided not to. I mean, do any of us really need to see another example of the insanity that is everywhere right now?

A two minute scroll through any social media will show you more crazy than you’d normally encounter in five years’ time, so what’s the point—really—in me sending an email talking about it?

I was talking to a friend earlier who said, “Look, the whole world is on fire. We all know it (at least those of us who are paying attention) so what’s the point in talking about it all the time? People are desperate for good news.” And it’s true. So without further ado, here’s some good news.

A radio host turned entrepreneur in Nigeria just won an award for drastically changing the lives and increasing the wealth of farmers throughout his country. Seven years ago he went to a local market, chasing a story on agriculture, and found that a ton of food gets wasted between the fields and people’s kitchens. Although about 6,000 tons of fish a day was harvested, only about 2,000 of it was actually sold. The rest of it either ended up rotting or being preserved in some way that yielded less of a profit than if it had been able to be sold fresh.

He decided to do something about it, and voila! Cold Hubs was born. He created a 100% solar-powered refrigeration unit that could be rented for only $1 a day and had the capacity to refrigerate all the produce and fish that came into a local market. Here’s the cool thing:

ColdHub fridges can extend the life of fruits and vegetables from two to 21 days. This increases vendor and farmer profits by 25% on average, says the company. It also increases entrepreneurial energy among the users, as literal days of their life are freed up from having to spend time buying, sourcing, shipping, or throwing away extra produce.

The inventor said that, “Tackling food spoilage is important because, according to the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), it is estimated that a 10% reduction in global food loss will result in an 11% decrease in hunger, and a 4% decrease in child malnutrition worldwide.”

“In Nigeria, a 35% reduction in post-harvest tomato loss alone would [impact] vitamin A deficiency for up to 1.1 million children per day,” he added.

So not only is his invention helping farmers save time and money (thus increasing their wealth) but it’s also helping reduce hunger, and fight malnutrition! There are just so many wins in this story. My personal favorite is the line that tips its hat to Frederic Bastiat’s That Which is Seen, and That Which is Not Seen.

It’s a classic economic case of ‘what is seen and what is unseen.’ And Ikegwuonu, Nigeria, and even the world, might never understand how much entrepreneurial, educational, or economic advances could arise from ColdHub’s presence in the country.

So yay for Bastiat (I like him so much I based our first book, The Tuttle Twins Learn About The Law, on his The Law) and yay for regular people seeing a need and dedicating time and talent to filling it. The inventor was recently awarded $50,000 for his work, and is reinvesting it to help more villages. The world would be a better place with more people like Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu.

And then there’s the story of fifteen year old Joseph Beer, who is autistic and has ADHD, and started to struggle for need of purpose and routine when his special school was closed in the lockdowns in March. He’s started going on daily walks with his mom, and noticed that the hedgerows were growing too tall and obstructing important signage, and that street signs were becoming too dirty to read. He worried that drivers and pedestrians might be at risk, so he took matters into his own hands.

His mom says that he gets up early every morning and heads out with a trailer that he’s rigged to pull behind his bike. He comes back hours later, filthy and worn out from scrubbing and trimming, showers up, and prepares his gear to head out again the next day.

Neighbors took notice and set up a GoFundMe in effort to thank him for his time and dedication to the community. They ended up giving him over a thousand bucks, but instead of buying a new bike, or a cool gaming system, Joseph chose to donate it to a local food bank that was helping families struggling to eat during the shutdowns. His mom said, “We are absolutely blown away with everything he’s done. His dad and I are so proud.”

I bet they are! What a great example Joseph is of taking responsibility for his community! I wish more adults had his spirit—can you imagine how obsolete the government could become if everyone felt the same sense of responsibility for their communities as Joseph? It reminds me of The Tuttle Twins and the Fate of the Future, when the neighborhood gets together and envisions different ways that communities could thrive without coercive government interference.

Finally, a personal favorite.

I read about this last week and almost want to road trip the west coast just to check it out: Kevin Costner has launched an app called HearHere that plays recorded short stories of pretty much every place of historical significance across Oregon, California, and Washington.

“I am in love with history. I am in love with Country. I am in love with all the edges, all the disappointments, all the progress—all worth knowing,” writes Costner, who explains that HearHere is the perfect compromise between himself, a lover of history, and his kids, who regularly moan in protest because Costner inevitably stops at every roadside brown historical marker during their annual road trips.

“We’re launching HearHere with stories for California, Oregon, and Washington. Soon, we’ll canvas the US with more than 10,000 stories for you to enjoy.”

I relate to Costner here. I, too, am a history dork who can sometimes bore his family with stops at brown markers along interstates and byways, so the idea of something like this is pretty exciting to me. Maybe my family will respond more enthusiastically to Kevin’s award-winning voice than my own.

But hey, at least I didn’t make Waterworld.

There’s a pretty cool video that gives some more information about the project—I recommend checking it out. Plus, the app is on sale through the end of the month.

So that’s just a bit of good news for today. Awesome entrepreneurs, good samaritans, and Kevin Coster doing boring, dork things we need more of. I hope these stories brightened your day.

Yeah, the world is burning. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t still some pretty great stuff happening out there (like the huge sale we’re having right now that gives you loads of Tuttle Twins content for just $60).

I’d love to hear any “good news” you’ve got to share. Maybe we can start highlighting some of it on our social media accounts—I think we are all a little starved for some uplifting content, and hopeful messages.

Also, you can always go check out our new podcast, The Way the World Works! It’s great for the whole family (I’d say kids age 10 and up), and even though we discuss important or complex topics, we always keep it uplifting and empowering.

There’s a lot of good out there still. We just have to be a little more dedicated to finding it these days.

Happy hunting!

— Connor

Are We Witnessing the Beginning of the End of Compulsory Education?

Happy Thursday!

I was talking to a teacher friend the other day, and she remarked that she feels like her head is spinning with how quickly her world has changed in the last several months. She said that not only have COVID-inspired regulations affected every aspect of her career, but she’s seeing her fellow teachers act in a way that has left her confused and questioning her association with them. She also noted that she’s feeling a shift in the way parents, and the general public, see teachers.

She said she once felt like she belonged to a group that was generally favored in communities across the country—people loved teachers! But in the last few months she’s seen an uptick in social media posting—even by friends and family—about how entitled and awful teachers are. “Parents seem to be turning against teachers en masse,” she said, and although she felt sad about it, she said she could kind of understand where they were coming from.

I’ve been thinking about that conversation a lot the last few days, and I have to say that I agree with what she observed. I’m not a teacher, but I have done a lot of work with teachers, and in schools, promoting our Tuttle Twins books, so I have built some pretty good relationships with teachers over the years. I have always had a generally positive opinion of teachers—even if I’ve been critical of government education as a whole—but I’m definitely seeing some things that have me pretty concerned.

Last month, I read a bunch about the demands of the L.A. Teachers Union politicizing of their “back to school” demands. They didn’t even try to hide their agenda—speaking loud and proud about the things they wanted in return for agreeing to do their jobs:

The Los Angeles Teachers Union is one of the largest in the state, and the “United Teachers Los Angeles” say public schools should not reopen unless their demands are met.

Their demands include implementing a moratorium on private schools, defunding the police, increasing taxes on the wealthy, implementing Medicare for all, and passing the HEROES Act, which allocated an additional $116 billion in federal education funding to the states.

The union’s demands also took aim at charter schools.
The United Teachers Los Angeles union says these policies must be implemented on both the state and national level before reopening schools.

Oh, no big deal. They just want billions of dollars, a defunding of the police, Medicare for all, and an essential government ban on their competition in the form of public and charter schools on a national level before they’ll go back to work. Sounds totally reasonable.

And all of this in response to a virus? I don’t get it. It’s like no one is even a little bit ashamed to basically say, “Hey, we are just using the chaos and fear of a virus that is freaking everyone out to hold your kids hostage until we get what we want.” And people are actually engaging with them and lending some type of validity to the whole thing.
Insanity.

So we have the crazy teachers who are using this national crisis as a way to bring their special interests into the spotlight, but we’ve also got teachers openly lamenting the fact that their special interests and agendas are going to be getting too much light.

In a series of tweets, one educator laid out his concerns for fellow teachers who will be teaching virtually this year. He has since locked his profile—I guess he really didn’t like the attention these tweets brought—but check out what he said:

So this fall, virtual class discussions will have many potential spectators—parents, siblings, etc.—in the same room. We’ll never be quite sure who is overhearing our discourse. What does this do for our equity/inclusion work?

How much have students depended on the (somewhat) secure barriers of our physical classrooms to encourage vulnerability? How many of us have installed some version of, “What happens here stays here,” to help this?

While conversations about race are in my wheelhouse, and remain a concern in this no-walls environment—I am most intrigued by the damage that “helicopter/snowplow” parents can do in honest conversations about gender/sexuality.

And while “conservative” parents are my chief concern—I know that the damage can come from the left too. If we are engaged in the messy work of destabilizing a kid’s racism or homophobia or transphobia—how much do we want their classmates’ parents piling on?

I don’t know about you, but I was unaware that teachers had crafted a “what happens here stays here” culture in their classrooms. I certainly can’t see anything virtuous in a teacher purposely creating an environment where the parent is the “enemy” and what happens in class is somehow a secret amongst teacher and classmates. That sounds like a recipe for disaster (and abuse) if I ever heard one.

Couple these two examples with districts all over the country adopting crazy COVID “precautions” and rules, and it really starts to feel like those managing the government education of America’s children have actually lost their minds.

This article is one of dozens that I’ve read that lays out the rules that schools are making for students—even (especially?) students who will be learning virtually. It forbids students from wearing pajamas during virtual learning, and gives a whole bunch of other rules that students (parents) have to follow during online class time.

It’s pretty mind-blowing to me that schools feel emboldened enough to tell a parent what their child can or can’t wear in their own home.

I even heard that some schools are requiring that virtual classroom participants must wear a mask during instruction times. What?!

I remember back in May when I wrote an article titled, Maybe it’s Time to Make Some Hard Choices About Education. It was just a couple of days after the CDC released their “guidelines” for reopening schools in the fall. I said,

The CDC is essentially recommending that schools do away with every single thing that could have been considered a somewhat positive aspect of public education—and replace them with isolation, fear, and a conditioning to accept total authoritarian control of absolutely every aspect of life.

No more playgrounds.

No more field trips.

No more sitting at the lunch table with friends trading snacks.

No more hugs. No more touch.

Just sitting in isolation, totally void of human contact, being made to fear germs and the touch of others, for several hours a day. Scratch what I said before—this is worse than prison,

A lot of people emailed me and were like, “Connor, you’re being too reactionary here. These are just recommendations. No school would actually implement these guidelines.”

I hate to say “I told you so,” (seriously, I would have much rather been wrong on this one) but… Yeah. They totally did do it—they implemented pretty much all of the guidelines, no matter how crazy.

Sometimes I still have to pinch myself.

How is this real life?!

So back to my conversation with my teacher friend. I think she’s right. I think a lot of us hoped that teachers would be the last line of defense between insane school boards and unions and the families of the students they love. A lot of us know and love our kids’ teachers, and I think there’s a lot of disappointment that teachers, as a whole, seem to be behaving kind of terribly right now.

This isn’t to say that a lot of teachers aren’t just as appalled as my friend, and the rest of us. But there’s truth to my friend’s observation that parents are turning away from the education system, and the teachers they once trusted. It’s like in a lot of places, a light got turned on and parents are getting a view into classroom culture for the first time… and they are really not liking what they are seeing.

Of course I don’t think all is lost. I know that the good teachers who don’t see their role as being some type of behind-the-backs-of-parents indoctrinator of social activism are going to continue to do right by their students. I also know that a lot of good teachers are leaving public education and exploring all of the alternative education options available to both teachers and students. Every day I read about new micro-schools, or “pods,” or even teachers just totally privatizing and taking students into their own homes. (That’s so awesome!)

I think that parents are turning away from government education—a lot of them have simply seen too much into the nature of the beast that is “public” schooling, and they feel that they have no choice but to withdraw their participation in what they see as a corrupt institution that doesn’t respect their roles as parents, or support the beliefs of their families. I wrote about this in my book, Passion-driven Education.

And it’s actually kind of encouraging.

Sometimes, things have to fall apart in order for better things to take their place, and I don’t feel like I’m being naive or overly-optimistic when I say that we may be witnessing the start of the falling apart of compulsory education as we know it.

I don’t know about you, but I plan to be at the forefront in deciding what takes its place. We’ve got work to do in order to build a better world for our children.

— Connor