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Things Worth Observing

Happy Monday!

Let’s take a break from all the gloom and doom, shall we?

One of our readers—a follower on Instagram—posted this on her page:

There is a lot going on in our world right now. Our children can feel the shifts, they overhear our conversations, and now they can also see physical differences. All of that can feel a little scary for them, just like it is for us. But knowledge is power and right now, it can also be comfort. This is why we have a new addition to our weekly rhythm that our kiddos LOVE! Tuttle Twins Tuesday! The Tuttle Twins books are such a fun way to introduce and start discussions about big topics like government, rights, the economy, education, and so much more. This is reading like an ad, but we just love them! I know other families like ours will find them helpful right now. I mean… look at these faces—these books are beating legos and princesses for attention!

Of course I’m thrilled with this awesome endorsement of our series, and I definitely think Tuttle Twins Tuesday should be internationally observed (or at least enforced for members of Congress), but I love another point that this keyed-in mom makes.

Our kids are astute observers—and it’s up to us to help them understand what they’re seeing.

They are always watching us, and the world around them. They pick up on far more than a lot of adults give them credit for, so it’s up to us to pay attention to the way that they are observing the world and its happenings, and to give them the tools to understand and thrive in it.

Sure, right now is an especially important time to be sure that our kids are getting their questions answered and being helped to make sense of the changes they are seeing all around them—but shouldn’t we always be just as mindful of their ability to observe, and endeavor to place within their view the things that are worthy of observance?

It’s easy as “grown ups” to get caught up in the worries and cares of the grown up world and neglect to consider the way that our children are seeing us and the way we respond to them. Some might say that we should pretend that the world isn’t big and sometimes scary, and full of things that sometimes even discourage adults or leave them stumped for answers or solutions. But I don’t think that’s true. I think kids deserve to learn about the world, and have it explained to them in ways that make them feel empowered and prepared.

One of the criticisms I’ve seen on our social media ads usually goes something like this:

“Oh, good grief! Kids will have to learn all of this when they’re older! Why can’t you just LET THEM BE KIDS? Why would you want to teach kids about money and government?”

I’ll resist the urge to point out that someone with a disdain for knowledge of money, government, or economics probably developed those feelings because instead of learning about those things when they were young and entering adulthood with a healthy understanding, they were most likely at some point in early adulthood blindsided by the harsh reality that they did, in fact, not know how the world around them worked and found themselves woefully unprepared for, and later hostile toward it.

I guess I did a poor job at resisting the urge to point that out, didn’t I?

But it’s true.

Too often, people become afraid of, resentful of, or indifferent to, things that they don’t feel comfortable in their knowledge or understanding of. There is no other valid reason why people would find the idea of teaching children these principles offensive.

I’ve been asked many times why kids love these books so much? I mean—they really DO teach economics, civics, government, money, personal responsibility, self-reliance, and entrepreneurship. Those topics aren’t really known for being super-exciting. So why, like our friend over on Instagram said, would kids often choose to read our books over playing with LEGO or dressing up like princesses?

I think it’s a combination of a couple of things. First, kids like to be treated like they are competent and capable smaller versions of adults. They don’t like to be talked down to, or babied. Our books treat kids like they are perfectly able to understand these ideas. We don’t dumb them down. We don’t use patronizing baby-talk when explaining complex principles or ideas. Kids notice that, and they care about it.

I’d say another reason is that our books leave kids feeling empowered. The stories are engaging, the illustrations are superb (thanks Elijah!), but the overarching theme of each book is that of kids seeing the world around them for what it is, and learning how to use their own time, talents, and resources—with a little help from wise adults, sometimes—to make it a better place for themselves and those around them.

Kids naturally observe the world around them and they naturally want to do worthwhile things. I believe that as adults in stewardship of these impressive little minds, it is our job to give them worthwhile things to observe.

The Tuttle Twins and the Education Vacation teaches about the uniqueness of each individual child and how learning looks so different for everyone. Children may not all learn in the same fashion, but they are all, always, learning. We have a unique opportunity while they are young to impress upon them an excitement toward learning and an optimism of the world around them—or a fear of it.

My hope is that in a generation, there will be very few people who would remark that learning about money, government, and civics is an affront to childhood. I know that our books are making a big difference in the attitudes of kids (and parents) toward these important topics, and I am truly left in awe sometimes of the stream of positive emails, texts, and reviews that I see about our books. It’s humbling to be a part of.

In these unique and sometimes discouraging times, but also when life returns to normal, let’s make it even more of a priority to help our astute little observers find worthwhile things to cast their gaze upon, and let’s take extra care to help them feel empowered about their place in this world and their ability to make it better for themselves and those around them.

— Connor

Hiding from Hobgoblins

I shared some thoughts on my Facebook page the other day that I think are worth repeating here, so bear with me if you already saw this.  😉

Ben Franklin was spot on when he said:

“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

These words are often misquoted so let’s break it down quick:

He was talking about essential liberty—enduring principles, due process, and fundamental rights.

And the issue isn’t long-term safety and stability—where one might concede to some basic regulations of one’s rights—but rather an exchange of liberty in return for “a little temporary” safety. It’s expediency—a surrendering of something enduring, traded for (supposed) safety in the short-term due to a perceived threat.

So basically, we freak out in response to something, and then support the strong-arm tactics laid out as The Way to Fix The Problem. We consent to—and even cheerfully support—things that we would never, if we weren’t scared, consent to or support.

Several years ago I wrote Feardom. After I published it, I made this (not that bold) prediction: “This book will never not be relevant, because this stuff happens all the time. People constantly give up freedoms in exchange for a safety quickie.”

And here we are.

It’s not that I’m prophetic in the slightest—it’s that we’ve been here before. In fact we’ve been here over and over again.

Unfortunately we are once again proving the truth of the old “those who don’t learn from history are condemned to repeat it,” adage.

Whether around the world or here in the good ol’ U S of A, over time people continue to stand by and watch their freedoms be steadily eroded. If you want to see the most clear and glaring example of how much we have allowed our lives to be changed by government because of fear, I would challenge you to watch any pre-9/11 movie that involves any airport scenes.

Yikes.

“Neither a man nor a crowd nor a nation can be trusted to act humanely or to think sanely under the influence of a great fear,” wrote the British philosopher Bertrand Russell.

And here’s what I wrote in Feardom:

Thus we see individuals condoning torture, deprivation, incarceration, and even murder under the pretense that doing so will abate their fears and help them feel safe. We similarly see the populace complying with insane demands to submit to molestation at the airport as a necessary measure for ensuring their protection. There is almost no end to what people will do in hopes of being kept safe from the supposed hobgoblins that threaten them.

Little could I have imagined the particulars of COVID-19 and economic catastrophe that the government’s shutdowns and mandates would cause to happen — but it’s relatively easy to predict because this is a historical trend.

We as a people are not very good at valuing and protecting our essential liberty when we’re scared. And those in “power” know that. They use it. They always have. It’s a tale as old as time with no happy ending.

There will always be challenges. War, natural disasters, disease, and economic turmoil are a part of this world. There’s always going to be a reason to be worried.

And government will always hold itself out as our savior, eager to implement this or that program, and spend tons of our (and our posterity’s) money to achieve it. Central planners live for times such as these—when their designs can be foisted on their fiefdoms.

But to me, and thankfully many others, the uncertainties of life are no reason to tolerate an expansion of government authority and a restriction on our rights. If anything, the opposite is true; given the historical trend, it’s in times of crisis that we should be the MOST vigilant against a consolidation of power by the state.

It is in times precisely like these that we must use extra level-headed thinking, be extra discerning in our reactions and our expectations, and—based on our observations of government’s tendency toward authoritarianism in times of crisis or perceived crisis—be extra vigilant in the protection and defense of our rights and those of our fellowman.

H.L. Mencken famously said, “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.”

It was right when he said it in 1918, it is still right today, and it will continue to be right for as long as government exists.

Do I believe that everyone in the government is bad, and that they sit, scheming into the wee hours of the night—wringing their hands in anticipation of the next disaster and planning the ways they will use it to usurp more power from the people? No.

But do I think that a lot of men and women who have the desire to control others seek careers in government? Yeah… I think that would be a fair thing to argue.

The problem is that even when a politician really just wants to help people, and they really believe that the “emergency” measures they are taking will save lives, or help those in need, or make life better and of course “safer,” the outcome is often the same. A series of unintended (and in many cases—especially by the scheming-hand-wringers—intended) consequences follow that leave our rights forever altered and our liberties battered and bruised.

The Tuttle Twins and the Road to Surfdom is based on F.A. Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom and details the way government action has a ripple effect that very often has terrible and far-reaching consequences. We are seeing just such a scenario play out now, in real time.

I hope that as the second and third effects from this pandemic and the responses to it by government and private citizen become more visible, we will awaken ourselves to the very real history that is once again repeating itself.

When you see major news networks, and hear politicians using the phrase, “the new normal,” I would entreat you to look very closely at what you are being told to accept and what you are being expected to give up in order to assume your “proper place” in the real-time remaking of society.

There will always be dangers. There will always be viruses and terrorists and hobgoblins of one kind or another to keep us awake at night in worry for the safety of ourselves and those we love. We must, however, have a clear line in our minds of what “essential liberties,” if any, we are willing to sacrifice for a feeling of security—and when that line has been crossed, we must find the courage to speak out.

My hope is that in the coming days and weeks we will see an awakening of our collective faculties and a renewed commitment to the principles of freedom, liberty, and individual rights that once defined Americans. I hope that people will listen closely to what “new normal” is being crafted for them, and that they will reject a limiting of their freedoms—even if they’re scared.

— Connor

So What Should We Do?

It seems that we are all looking for answers right now.

I’ve been getting emails and messages every day lately with people asking me what I think the solution is, or what I think we should be doing about the continued shutdown of our nation.

Some people are calling for a march in every community on government offices to demand that the country open back up. Some people think the reason the “official” projections of deaths are being halved again and again is because this lockdown is working, and we just need to stay the course—regardless of secondary effects of prolonged economic shut down and personal mental health concerns.

I’ve seen some people who once supported the Stay Home Orders change their minds and now acknowledge that the “cure” could very well be worse than the disease. Even within our Tuttle Twins readership I see opinions across a broad spectrum of solutions and fixes to the current state of things.

Which, I guess, is actually a good thing.

The fact that people disagree on the right course of action is a pretty great sign that people are still, at least to some extent, exercising their rights to speak and learn and act in the ways they feel are right. It’s a good thing when people use the platforms and influence that they have to try to persuade others to join in their cause or to see things from their perspective. I always value seeing that—even when I disagree.

While I know that this shutdown will eventually end, I can’t pretend to know what the long-term consequences of it will be—and although we do have a lot of historical evidence to draw from to make projections, I’m getting a little tired of projections. 😉
What I do know is that more education and more communication is always the right answer.

Although this is truly an unprecedented time, so many of the things we are seeing have already played out in one way or another and much has been written and recorded for us to reference now.

So what can you do if you’re not quite ready to get out the pitchforks and torches—but you feel like you need to do… something?

Read to your kids. Teach them.

The Tuttle Twins and the Creature from Jekyll Island pretty much perfectly sums up the disastrous effects of stimulus spending, money printing, inflation, and economic collapse that we are watching unfold in real-time right now. Although G. Edward Griffin’s version is the stuff nightmares are made of, our version teaches these lessons in a way that is entertaining and light-hearted—but without coming across as condescending or patronizing to kids. Kids are way too bright to put up with that.

The Tuttle Twins and the Messed Up Market is our newest book and teaches about the way that human action affects markets. In fact, it’s based on Human Action by Ludwig von Mises. Never has the lesson been more important, that individual people, acting in their own best interest, are what comprise an economy—thus making it impossible to plan or control, because each person places value on different things. We are seeing what happens when the government tries to tell people what is “essential” to their lives, and what is not. It simply cannot be done. (Central planning fails, as we explain in our Road to Surfdom book.)

The Tuttle Twins and the Fate of the Future came out last year, and focuses on the tendency of governments to become authoritarian because they rely on coercion instead of persuasion to get people to do what they think should be done. It challenges children to envision better ways for people to acquire the protection and perks of government through voluntary action without employing coercion or force against others. It is based on Murray Rothbard’s Anatomy of the State.

All of these books will serve to help kids understand the things that are happening in the world around them right now. If you haven’t read the original versions, I highly suggest you prioritize reading them soon. (Curious which books ours are based off of? See the list here.)

Incidentally, if you are ready to bring out the pitchforks and torches, please don’t tell me. Plausible deniability, and all that…

I read an article this morning titled The 100 Day Disaster that Befell America and I think there’s a lot of good lessons to take from it. One of my favorite points was this:

No one has ever explained why everyone facing the same calamity (which is never the case, in actuality) requires the same reaction from everybody, especially a response selected and decreed from above by a group of people who usually face far fewer risks than the rest of us.

Why do so many right now seem to have accepted the very collectivist idea that we must all come to the same conclusion, or none at all? I think the most likely answer in all of this is that there simply isn’t a right answer that can magically come down from some position of authority and force things to work out a certain way.

People—individuals—in their own families, neighborhoods, communities, and states, should always be free to make the decisions that meet the needs that they deem essential—but especially in times of crisis. This is a lesson that all of us should be learning, and teaching, during this new and uncertain time.

Our collective safety, security, health, and prosperity cannot be outsourced to someone else to centrally plan what is in our best interest.

President Eisenhower is credited with saying, “If you want total security, go to prison. There you’re fed, clothed, given medical care and so on. The only thing lacking… is freedom.”

I like “Ike” on this one.

— Connor

 

 

Update: The Anti-Education Choice Agenda is Alive and Well

Happy Wednesday!

I figure we are all a little COVID-19’d out right now, so I thought I’d take a minute and remind you that while the world debates the best way to manage pandemics (by the way… have you checked out Sweden?), the pre-COVID agendas are still alive and well—and the attempts to limit our liberties and choices are still very much rolling forward.

Check this out and tell me if it doesn’t give you the creeps:

We will convene leaders in education and child welfare policy, legislators and legislative staff, academics and policy advocates, to discuss child rights in connection with homeschooling in the United States. The focus will be on problems of educational deprivation and child maltreatment that too often occur under the guise of homeschooling, in a legal environment of minimal or no oversight. Experts will lead conversations about the available empirical evidence, the current regulatory environment, proposals for legal reform, and strategies for effecting such reform.

This is the overview of a summit scheduled for the coming months and “Sponsored by the Harvard Law School Child Advocacy Program, in cooperation with the Academy on Violence and Abuse, American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children, the Institute for Human Services, the New York Foundling, the William & Mary Bill of Rights Institute, and the Zero Abuse Project.”

The summit is called the “Homeschooling Summit: Problems, Politics, and Prospects for Reform” and will be held at the Harvard Law School and is, of course, by invitation only. I contacted them and requested an invitation, saying I run a think tank and work on education policy—no word back yet.

Of course, I’m not holding out high hopes that I’ll be invited. When I looked through the list of attendees, I found only anti-homeschool and anti-education choice individuals and organizations.

I’m going to save you some homework by pasting information found in this article detailing the beliefs and views of some of the confirmed speakers:

  • Dr. Rachel Coleman, founder of the Coalition for Responsible Home Education and co-founder of Homeschooling’s Invisible Children. She is expected to reiterate her organization’s views that homeschooling must be more firmly regulated by the government. Proposed regulations include a call for annual evaluation of every homeschooled student.

  • Samantha Field, author of “Meet HSLDA, The Most Powerful Religious-Right Lobby You’ve Never Heard Of.” The article starts by declaring, “The Home School Legal Defense Association has fomented a culture of suspicion and wild conspiracy theories that may put children in danger.”

  • Carmen Longoria-Green, litigation counsel for Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Green’s 2015 Note for the Georgetown Law Review describes the current homeschool environment as “massively deregulated” and suggests that states should set up a process where homeschooled students could petition a judge to force their parents to send them to public school. (Educational Empowerment: A Child’s Right to Attend Public School, 103 Geo. L.J. 1089) Such a process is necessary, she told the Washington Post, because “It’s unreasonable to expect children to be their own advocates … You need a forum where an outside person looks at the situation and says, ‘Is this person meeting educational outcomes?’ ”

  • Dr. Chelsea McCracken, who asserted in 2018 that “Research on homeschooled students’ academic performance has been hampered by the lack of data collected on homeschooled students in most states.”

  • Dr. Barbara Knox, who worked at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine as the head of the hospital’s Child Protection Program until 2019, when she voluntarily resigned while under investigation for alleged unprofessional acts including intimidation of her colleagues. She currently works with the Alaska Child Abuse Response and Evaluation Services, “a department charged with making medical determinations about whether a child has been abused or not.” Dr. Knox is a leader in the field of pediatric child abuse medicine, a specialty that the Parental Rights Foundation contends can lead to doctors seeing child abuse “lurking behind every injury.”

  • James Dwyer, a law professor at the College of William and Mary. He is the professor famous for claiming that “The reason parent-child relationships exist is because the State confers legal parenthood …”. In his 1994 law review article “Parents’ Religion and Children’s Welfare: Debunking the Doctrine of Parents’ Rights” (82 Calif. L. Rev. 1371), Dwyer argued that “the claim that parents should have child-rearing rights—rather than simply being permitted to perform parental duties and to make certain decisions on a child’s behalf in accordance with the child’s rights—is inconsistent with principles deeply embedded in our law and morality.”

  • Professor Robert Reich, whose views on homeschooling can be best summed up by the title of his 2015 editorial in the New York Times: “More Oversight is Needed.”

To say that homeschool and education choice are going to have any type of fair representation would be fool-hearted. This summit essentially amounts to a group of like-minded individuals pretending to be scientific while actually just confirming their own biases.

It would be easy to dismiss it with an eye roll—except that it’s summits like these that will later be cited when states or the federal government decide to tackle what they will call the “homeschool problem” in six months when tens and hundreds of thousands of “quarantine” homeschool families become “because we love it” homeschool families.

The government doesn’t like to give up power and control once they have it, and I suspect that this summit is just one of the first in what will become a refocusing on limiting the rights of parents to make education choices for their children once the COVID-19 dust settles. I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think I am.

So what can we do?

For starters, I would encourage everyone to not get so caught up in the headlines and the media frenzy of current events that they forget that lawmakers and lobbyists are still busy advocating their pet projects and liberty-limiting agendas. A large portion of my time is spent in defending against bad public policy, and there are people like me, and organizations like Libertas Institute, in every state. You can find a right-of-center think tank in your state here.

There are ways in every state and community to get involved and spend your time and talents in defending the rights of people to live, educate, worship, and prosper in the ways that they see fit. It is often only through public outcry that events like the The Homeschooling Summit: Problems, Politics, and Prospects for Reform get brought to the attention of those outside the private invite list.

So look around you today at what is happening within your own community or town. If you see the rights of others being limited or placed in danger, speak up! Be the one person on the city Facebook page who defends the small business owner trying to keep from going under, or the eccentric unschool mom whose kids play outside without shoes for most of the day instead of sitting in front of a screen and “doing school.”

I believe that the right of mothers and fathers to decide what is best for their families should be protected and defended at all costs, and I know that a lot of Tuttle Twins readers feel the same—even if they don’t choose to homeschool for one reason or another.

We don’t have to agree with the choices others make in order to see the value in protecting the rights of people to make the choices they do.

One of the reasons I love John Taylor Gatto, and chose to write a book based on his work, is because he recognized how important choice was. He knew that children needed choice in order to actually learn and grow into the people they were created to become. He knew that in order for children to have those important choices, parents had to have the right to choose what education would best suit their individual children.

If we don’t have choice we cannot be free.

I don’t know if this summit is still set to go forward in light of world events, but if you or someone you know would be interested in presenting a balance to the anti-education choice slant of the current attendees, I’d encourage you to also request an invite.  😉

— Connor

 

It’s Time to Replace Fear with The Golden Rule

What a week.

How is everyone holding up?

I want to talk about something that’s been on my mind the last few days and that applies to each of us regardless of which charts or statistics or projections we choose to believe, and regardless of how the measures taken by governments—local, state, and federal—are affecting us.

I’m seeing something that I find concerning and I suspect that others may be keying into it as well: people are consumed with fear and it’s changing the way they think and reason and interact with others.

Somehow, in the space of just a few weeks, many people have gone from relatively respectful of the choices that others make in regards to how they live their lives and the choices they make for their families, to clogging police call lines with reports of neighbors not practicing the right kind of “social distancing.”

We are seeing a break-down in community—neighbor suddenly lashing out at neighbor—because the standards set for their children during this stay-at-home period differ from family to family. Once friendly relationships are breaking down over something as once totally inconsequential as which children are allowed to go outside and which are required to stay in the house.

People who a month ago would have balked at the idea that government has the right to shut down private businesses, or to demand that companies produce a certain product, or to go door-to-door in search of people who are traveling between states without “good reason” are now the loudest voices in support of the “by any means necessary” government mandated “protection” from COVID-19.

What has happened?

A chilling statement that I have seen repeated across different platforms and forums when someone questions the draconian measures being taken to enforce government recommendations is, “Well, if they would just obey then these measures wouldn’t be necessary.

That sentence sends an actual chill up my spine. I’m willing to bet you’ve seen it, and felt a similar shudder at its implications. After all—there is a long and bloody history of “just following orders” and “that wouldn’t have happened if they had just obeyed”.

The governments of the world have mobilized against an unseen enemy and just like any mobilization of government against any enemy, there is a high probability of unintended consequences and accidental fatalities.

Whether the measures we are seeing are truly being taken in an earnest effort to protect and defend our society from a rapidly spreading illness, or whether the disease is being exploited by some for other purposes—I suspect a good bit of both—the consequence is already a major limiting of civil liberties and individual rights on a global scale. We know that governments tend to become authoritarian—we even have a children’s book about it!

F.A. Hayek told us that, “Emergencies have always been the pretext on which the safeguards of individual liberty have been eroded.” We know Hayek was right—we’ve seen it before. We know that fear is a powerful weapon often employed by government to divide us and to usurp our liberties. I wrote a book about that, too.

I had hoped that the lessons we’ve learned in the nearly two decades since 9/11 would have been applied to the next crisis situation, but it seems that many are slow to remember, or simply don’t care, when they have been made to fear for the very lives of themselves and their loved ones.

I saw a post the other day that said something like, “I fear that the economic and societal fatality rate will end up being far greater than that of the actual virus,” and it’s worth pondering. The damage being done to businesses, relationships, and communities is on track to cause a secondary tidal wave of damage that will take a very long time to recover from. For some, there won’t be any recovery.

There are a lot of things that we can’t control right now. We can’t control the ever-changing daily projections of tens of thousands—or even hundreds of thousands—of deaths. We may be unable to control the police presence in our communities and the forcible closure of essential-to-us businesses and the threats of violence against us if we disobey state mandated orders. Some can’t send their kids to school to be with their friends. We can’t meet up at the museum or the park with our homeschool co-op.

But we can always control our own minds.

And we can always control our own actions.

We can always choose not to let fear control and change us. We can be thoughtful and calm, despite our concerns.

What the world needs most right now is a heavy dose of the Golden Rule exercised in all of our interactions with one another.

Everyone is suffering in seen or unseen ways. Everyone has different needs that aren’t being met, and everyone is feeling the heavy hand of government pushing on them from one or many directions. Everyone has valid reasons to be afraid.

The last thing any of us needs is to be turning on one another, calling the police on one another, being unkind of hurtful toward one another, or judging one another.

Never have I been more convicted in the belief that every person you see is fighting a battle that you know nothing about—that every single person is doing the best that they can to protect and provide for themselves and those they love. Never has the right of the individual to act in their own best interest been more important.

My hope is that the fear and suspicion and judgements that have begun to rear their ugly heads within neighborhoods and communities will be recognized for what they are and replaced by an extra measure of love and a renewed commitment to uplift and respect and defend one another—even those with whom we may find ourselves fundamentally at odds.

This is the time to prove the rightness of the beliefs we claim to hold—to be truly excellent to one another. 😉

— Connor

The Sadly Prophetic Relevance of Our New Book

Happy Monday!

I’m writing to you, once again, from my home office. I’m guessing you’re reading this, once again, from your home as well. What a time to be alive!

I figure that you might be getting sick of hearing the same old voices, so I thought I’d give you a chance to hear from the illustrator of the Tuttle Twins books, Elijah Stanfield, for a change.

Elijah recently posted something on Facebook that I think is worthy of sharing to an even larger audience. He said:

I was concerned that the latest Tuttle Twins book was too full of economic principles. It is so loaded with knowledge that each page could start a discussion that could last days. (By the way, we’ve developed a homeschool curriculum that facilitates those discussions.)

But just a couple of weeks since being printed, the choice to create this book now feels prophetic with what’s happening in today’s “messed up market.”

Understanding this information will benefit you significantly in the coming months.

If the supply chain is working why are there shortages of toilet paper and groceries?

How could these shortages be quickly resolved?

How do 0% interest rates affect you, and what choices can you make to minimize being harmed by the market distortions that will follow?

How do bailouts and market subsidies stunt innovation and enable corporate irresponsibility?

How is this affecting you?

What solutions are better than bailouts?

Of course I could try to answer these questions without you buying the books—but stories are funner, and you can see the pictures. 😉

Elijah isn’t just a great illustrator and friend—he’s also a pretty smart dude. And he’s right! There’s no way we could have known when we wrote The Tuttle Twins and the Messed Up Market that its messages would become so pertinent so quickly.

I’m not going to say that I’m happy about it; I wish that the lessons in this book were merely educational and not quickly becoming a real time guide to what can go wrong, and how quickly what people value or need or feel can affect markets and in turn, affect nearly every aspect of our lives.

As with all of our other books, we included a Glossary of Terms at the back of Messed Up Market. Check it out:

Delayed Gratification: Resisting an immediate reward in favor of a later reward instead.

Incentive: Something that induces a person to action.

Interest: A fee charged to a person who borrows money.

Microenterprise: A small business employing only a few people.

Opportunity Cost: What a person misses out on by choosing an alternative option.

Praxeology: The study of human action.

Risk: The chance something bad will happen.

Subsidy: Monetary assistance, typically given with no expectation of repayment.

Trade-off: Reducing or losing one option in favor of increasing gaining another.

We also offer some discussion questions at the back of all of our books to help parents delve deeper into helping their kids understand what they’ve just learned. These, added to the questions that Elijah pointed out, make for a pretty fantastic overview of human action, markets, entrepreneurship, and government intervention:

1. Why don’t banks just let people borrow money for free?

2. What is wrong with bailing out people who made poor choices?

3. Are there things for which you seek instant gratification?

4. What type of microenterprise can you start?

5. What incentives do you have to make money?

We certainly didn’t plan to write the perfect book for this time, but it turns out that we really did.

If you’re looking for ways to help your kids (and maybe even yourself or other adults you know) make sense of all the crazy things happening in the world right now, you should really check out The Tuttle Twins and the Messed Up Market.

I can promise you that your kids will walk away knowing more about economics than a lot of adults… and nearly all members of Congress.

— Connor

We’re All Homeschoolers Now

Judging by what I’ve observed on social media, it seems like the first few days of forced homeschool went pretty well for most people. As the days have gone on, though, and schools nationwide have announced longer and longer closures, I’m seeing things take a bit of a turn.

It has saddened me to see negative posts by parents who are feeling discouraged and frustrated. Posts like:

“The honeymoon is over! Homeschool is the WORST.”

“I’ve lost all control! The kids are refusing to do their work. They won’t sit still and listen. They’re crying, I’m crying. When will this be over?!”

“I don’t know how teachers do it. Teaching these kids is impossible. Teachers deserve a medal for putting up with this.”

And of course tons of comments alluding to the necessity of drinking copious amounts of alcohol in order to deal with the stress of having their kids home all day.

I’m telling you—this does not have to be a terrible situation for you or your kids. You can survive all that is being thrown at you right now. You can even do it sober! 😉

The number one problem I’m seeing with parents struggling to find their way as new homeschoolers right now is that their kids have been sent home with huge packets of school work that they are expected to complete each day. They’re stressed because their kids don’t want to recognize them suddenly as not just ‘mom’ or ‘dad’ but also ‘teacher’ and so they are getting a lot of push-back about structured subjects, structured physical education, due dates for assignments, and grading deadlines.

“Why is our playroom suddenly the ‘homeschool room’ and why can’t I lay across my chair like I usually do when I’m playing with toys or coloring,” they wonder.

Kids know that things are different… but they don’t know that their parents have been madly searching Pinterest and Instagram till all hours of the night trying to craft the perfect homeschool setting with virtually no time to figure anything out.

All that kids are seeing is mom and dad acting crazy—and so they act crazy in response, and pretty soon your clean and quiet home feels more like a low-budget performance of Lord of the Flies and you feel like a massive failure.

But here’s the thing: You’re not failing. In fact, the fact that you’re even worried about failing your kids shows just how capable you are of being a fantastic teacher to them.

The situation we all find ourselves in is unprecedented in our lifetime—maybe ever. The best advice I can give to anyone right now is to just slow down. Your child is not going to fail at life because they didn’t complete an assignment this week. So just take a deep breath and realize that you have a unique opportunity to spend some serious quality time with your family right now.

Stop worrying about what your kids aren’t learning, and try just doing life with them for a little while. I pointed this out on my Facebook page the other day, that if you really feel like you can’t accommodate the rigorous home study and homework schedule that your child’s school sent home while maintaining peace and harmony in your home—opt out!

If you feel that replicating school at home isn’t working for your family, then find a local homeschool group and ask what you need to do to disenroll your child from public school for the remainder of the school year. Bam! Your homeschool is now your own, and you can craft an experience and an education model that works for your family. If, when this is all over, you want your children to return to their public school then all you have to do is enroll them in the fall.

There are so many online homeschool and unschool programs out there that are really ramping up access and options for families who are finding themselves unceremoniously dumped into this lifestyle with no time to prepare or adjust.

Unschool.school, and Outschool are just two programs that immediately jump to my mind as fantastic resources for families who aren’t enjoying mountains or worksheets and reporting to teachers and administrators with their daily or weekly numbers.

Want more structure? Check out Prenda, a cool microschool experience that uses academic standards. They’re running a sale right now, but use code TUTTLETWINS and they’ll sign you up for free!

We’ve created a huge sale for families new to homeschool with our Lockdown Deal where we are offering a bundle of most of our kids products for only $60 instead of the normal $265. (Deal ends tonight!)

One of the joys of homeschool is that you can craft it to look any way you want. I wish I could tell all the moms and dads who I’m seeing struggle with this huge life change that homeschool isn’t about replicating school at home. It’s about knowing the needs of your children better than anyone else ever could, and building their education around their strengths, talents, and interests.

If there are tears, you’re likely doing it wrong.

There’s a really good chance that when your kids are older, all they are going to remember about this time is that everyone was home together for a change—eating meals as a family, playing outside in the evenings because there weren’t sports or extracurriculars to run to, getting enough sleep and waking up each day excited because mom and dad and all their siblings were home and new adventures awaited them. Kids are pretty great at reminding us what really matters if we let them.
Right now, the world is in enough commotion.

Our homes should be a refuge from it—not an extension of it.

It’s tempting to wish that things weren’t the way they are—to look back longingly to (was that only two weeks ago??) easier and less confusing times and lament all the changes that life has unfairly thrust upon us.

But what’s the point? All that does is make us miserable and rob us of the ability to enjoy this unique time for what it has to teach us about ourselves and the world around us. This is a pretty great time to be learning, and I hope we are all able to come out of it on the other side with renewed senses of purpose and gratitude, and that our familial relationships will be made better for the unplanned time we’ve been given with each other.

— Connor

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Human Action and the Messed Up Market

It seems to be the season of Ludwig von Mises, and that’s a really great thing!

In the last couple of weeks we’ve had actor Rob Schneider quoting Mises on Twitter and the Mises Institute saying, “Human Action is the book you want to read, you need to read, you’ve thought about reading. So make 2020 the year you read it!”

And it’s true! You really need to read this book. If you’ve had it on your shelf, or in your Amazon cart for awhile but haven’t set aside the time to read it, consider hopping over to the Mises Institute website  where, “Over the next seven weeks the Human Action Podcast will guide you through this incredibly vital and intellectually transforming work, with a series of guest economists to explain and bring Mises’s most important work to life.”

We couldn’t have predicted all this “Mises love” when we set out to write our latest book, but it seems extra fitting that we’ve just released our 11th Tuttle Twins book—The Tuttle Twins and the Messed Up Market—which is based on Mises’s Human Action.

In addition to all the good talk about Mises, we are sitting front row to a real-time lesson in human action and markets.

Pulling straight from the plot of The Tuttle Twins and the Creature from Jekyll Island, we just saw the Fed print a whole bunch of money and drop interest rates—and we know that always ends well and never ever leads to inflation. Zimbabwe? Venezuela? Facepalm. We’ve seen panic-selling, and panic-hoarding, and a dozen other panic-related actions by people and groups all over the world.

And making The Tuttle Twins and the Fate of the Future even more relevant, we hear NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio calling for a seizing of the means of production. Seriously. He said, “This is a case for a nationalization, literally a nationalization, of crucial factories and industries that could produce the medical supplies to prepare this country for what we need.” He went on to say that, “The federal government needs to take over the supply chain right now.”

Nationalization of industries? And people call us crazy for claiming the government has a tendency to turn authoritarian…

It’s as if the themes and warnings in our books are playing out in real time. Even one of our teen books, The Tuttle Twins and the Hyperinflation Devastation, seems fitting for the scenario we’re seeing play out right now—where a disaster causes governments to make power grabs, travel to become difficult, and money to become unstable.

I swear I don’t have a crystal ball. It’s just that scenarios like the one we are living right now have happened at other times in history and I have always thought we would do well to learn all we can from the past in order to avoid having to relive its failures and mistakes.

I still don’t think it’s too late to learn these lessons and to craft a better future. It’s probably going to be up to our kids to really get things moving in a liberty-minded direction—that’s why I’ve spent so much time writing these books. Because I want kids to be able to learn about situations like the one we are in right now, and to see past the fear and the propaganda to understand the roots of the problems.

Right now, a whole lot of the world just became homeschoolers. It’s kind of neat to think about all the families who are eating dinner together every night for the first time in a long time because there aren’t any sports or extracurriculars. I know a lot of people are really struggling to try to find a place in this new “normal” but I hope that we can use this time to better our lives and to reevaluate the way we prioritize our time and relationships.

If you’re a veteran homeschooler, consider picking up a copy of The Tuttle Twins and the Education Vacation (based on John Taylor Gatto’s The Underground History of American Education) for your friends or family members who are suddenly finding themselves thrust into a homeschool life they didn’t choose and maybe feel unqualified or unprepared for. Who knows, maybe some folks will decide they love educating their kids outside the school system so much that they decide to make it permanent once all this passes.

I hope we can all make an effort to look out for each other and help each other navigate the trials and challenges of daily life right now. Just like the market, the world we live in is just made up of individuals and the actions that they (we!) choose to take. Let’s endeavor to make our actions thoughtful and helpful and kind.

— Connor

What’s Your Real World?

Who can relate?

You post something on social media or mention something to a relative or acquaintance about your belief that kids should have a lot more free time, spend a lot more time at play, or that structured compulsory education perhaps isn’t the most effective way to raise and educate children, and you get a response that looks something like this:

“Well that’s great, but how are you going to prepare your kids for the real world?”

Ahh.. the “real world.” Or as I like to think of it—the mythical place that people use to justify their bleak and dismal view of life.

When I hear someone say something like this, what I actually hear is:

“Since I believe that life is miserable, that my best years were spent in my youth and have already passed me by, and that the normal path of life is working until I’m sixty in a mind-numbing 9-5 that I don’t enjoy until I can finally retire and “live” a little before I die… aren’t you afraid that you are setting your kids up to be horribly disappointed that life is actually so awful by giving them so much hope and excitement and broadness in their view of life and their future? How are they going to settle for how much drudgery adulthood involves when they’ve had such a free and empowering start?”

That’s not my “real world,” and it’s not a world I want to prepare my kids for, either. Being a grown up isn’t synonymous with being a victim of circumstance or having to settle for a life that isn’t life-giving, but it seems that a lot of people have settled for that idea.

I can’t help but wonder if it has to do with the industrial, worker-driven “education” that so many adults endured through the most formative years of their lives. Entire generations have entered adulthood with the idea that the only path through life is a decade and a half of sitting in a classroom and that success looks like having an office to go to every day for the next forty years where you spend at least eight hours a day, five days a week, making someone else rich.

I saw a post on Facebook the other day that sums up my thoughts nicely. A young woman said:

“In high school I wondered why they pushed college on us so hard instead of trades?

“They didn’t tell me plumbers can make $1600 a week with no overtime and no degree, or that truck drivers can make 6 figures if they buy their own truck with no degree, or that traveling welders can make over $100,000/year with no degree.

“For some reason they made it seem like college was the only way to be successful. I swear… it’s as if the guidance counselors’ training was to direct our thinking and to fixate our minds and success in life based on the results we get from the college we choose. Notice they never mentioned us starting a business or even taught us how to in school? They always made sure they pushed the collegiate agenda and never even mentioned an outside option like trade school.

“Our school system is not designed to make bosses. It’s designed to make slaves. Otherwise they would train us to be self-employed and self-sufficient.

“They do not.

“Teach your children that they are more than just a piece of paper, that their minds can expand past the average status quo and that they have skills that can not be put on paper. There are great engineers right now managing a restaurant because they listened to their guidance counselor instead of their heart.”

Few Americans know that the true history of our public education system dates all the way back to 1806 and the fall of old Prussia at the hands of Napoleon at the battle of Jena. In Chapter 7 of The Underground History of American Education, John Taylor Gatto writes:

The most important immediate reaction to Jena was an immortal speech, the “Address to the German Nation” by the philosopher Fichte — one of the influential documents of modern history leading directly to the first workable compulsion schools in the West. Other times, other lands talked about schooling, but all failed to deliver. Simple forced training for brief intervals and for narrow purposes was the best that had ever been managed.

This time would be different.

In no uncertain terms Fichte told Prussia the party was over. Children would have to be disciplined through a new form of universal conditioning. They could no longer be trusted to their parents. Look what Napoleon had done by banishing sentiment in the interests of nationalism. Through forced schooling, everyone would learn that “work makes free,” and working for the State, even laying down one’s life to its commands, was the greatest freedom of all. Here in the genius of semantic redefinition1 lay the power to cloud men’s minds, a power later packaged and sold by public relations pioneers Edward Bernays and Ivy Lee in the seedtime of American forced schooling.

Prior to Fichte’s challenge any number of compulsion-school proclamations had rolled off printing presses here and there, including Martin Luther’s plan to tie church and state together this way and, of course, the “Old Deluder Satan” law of 1642 in Massachusetts and its 1645 extension. The problem was these earlier ventures were virtually unenforceable, roundly ignored by those who smelled mischief lurking behind fancy promises of free education. People who wanted their kids schooled had them schooled even then; people who didn’t didn’t. That was more or less true for most of us right into the twentieth century: as late as1920, only 32 percent of American kids went past elementary school. If that sounds impossible, consider the practice in Switzerland today where only 23 percent of the student population goes to high school, though Switzerland has the world’s highest per capita income in the world.

Prussia was prepared to use bayonets on its own people as readily as it wielded them against others, so it’s not all that surprising the human race got its first effective secular compulsion schooling out of Prussia in 1819, the same year Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, set in the darkness of far-off Germany, was published in England.

Schule came after more than a decade of deliberations, commissions, testimony, and debate. For a brief, hopeful moment, Humboldt’s brilliant arguments for a high-level no-holds-barred, free-swinging, universal, intellectual course of study for all, full of variety, free debate, rich experience, and personalized curricula almost won the day. What a different world we would have today if Humboldt had won the Prussian debate, but the forces backing Baron vom Stein won instead. And that has made all the difference.

The Prussian mind, which carried the day, held a clear idea of what centralized schooling should deliver: 1) Obedient soldiers to the army;2 2) Obedient workers for mines, factories, and farms; 3) Well-subordinated civil servants, trained in their function; 4) Well-subordinated clerks for industry; 5) Citizens who thought alike on most issues; 6) National uniformity in thought, word, and deed.

When people say—as the young woman whose Facebook post I quoted did—that they’ve begun to think that perhaps the system isn’t geared toward creating self-reliant individuals and bosses but rather “slaves,” they are actually more right than they probably realize. The system isn’t broken. It’s generally working exactly the way it was designed to.

So it’s no wonder that in a modern world with its travel opportunities, relative prosperity, freedom to move and associate, technology that allows for entrepreneurial endeavors, and connectivity, people would be feeling trapped in the 9-5 even more than ever before. The world is, quite literally, open to more people than at any other time in history, and yet most everyone has been conditioned from the age of five to think that the best life they can make for themselves and their families is endless schooling followed by endless work for someone else, and that lives of freedom and fulfillment are reserved for only the “lucky” few.

No wonder there are those who resent the freedom of children and families who choose to still see the world as their proverbial oyster and who seek its treasures with joyful enthusiasm and hope for what their labors can produce. It’s pretty easy to get beat down and discouraged by life.

Dr. Jordan Peterson talks often about the choices we must make to master ourselves and to shape lives of happiness and purpose out of chaos or suffering. He says, “You’ve probably heard me say that life is full of suffering. But before you’re tempted to say that life is meaningless, try to ask yourself this question: What is my reason for suffering? Because this suffering that you experience is a good indicator that something must change.

“Look for people who inspire you to become better. And do it now. The instinct for admiration is part of the instinct for imitation; if you want a good life, find admiration through the chaos.”

It isn’t possible to go back and redo the path we took from our high school years to where we are now. But it is always possible to change. It is possible to take the hours between when we get home from our boring or unsatisfying 9-5 and use them to craft the life that we have nurtured a tiny spark of hope at still creating. It is possible to shape a different future for our kids than what has been the norm for so long now.

I would love to see more adults continue to break free from lives that seem full of suffering or leave them feeling unfulfilled. I agree with Dr. Peterson’s assertion that being miserable can be used as a catalyst for great change, and that finding something or someone that inspires you can go far in making life feel meaningful and exciting again. I know that the men and women whose books I based the Tuttle Twins series on inspired me and created in me a spark that grew into a flame that led me to where I am now.

The Tuttle Twins series puts a lot of focus on self-reliance and self-ownership. It also encourages entrepreneurship and taking what might be a road less traveled in order to bring about big and important change. I hope that it also teaches kids that there is a whole lot that can be accomplished in the creation of the life you desire if you are willing to invest your time and talents in working toward it and that the “real world” is actually whatever world you choose to craft for yourself.

— Connor

School Makes Me…

Will you do a quick experiment with me? I want you to see something.

Go to google.com and type “school makes me” and see what suggestions (the most commonly searched terms) drop down.

Do those predictions break your heart? They break mine.

If you weren’t able to follow along, here’s what you missed:

School makes me sad

School makes me cry

School makes me so tired

School makes me feel bad

School makes me angry

School makes me tired

School makes me feel dumb

Perhaps some will dismiss these results  as an example of a “snowflake” generation who can’t handle hard work or “hurt feelings.” Maybe some would remark that they didn’t like school either, but they turned out fine. I’ve seen both of those responses before when I’ve talked about what we are continuing to learn about the effect of compulsory education on young people.

But these results, when looked at through the lense of what many experts consider a child and youth mental health crisis in this country, should stir in any concerned and compassionate adult a desire to identify and fix whatever is making our kids and teens feel so very sad and hopeless.

Every time I write about the failures and—dare I say—dangers of compulsory education, I hear from one or two people who tell me that they are very happy (and so are their children) with the public education system where they live. Sometimes, a few teachers will take offense at articles or opinions critical of the education system because they see it as a criticism of themselves and their passionate work.

To families who are thrilled with their kids’ teachers and with the education system where they live, I say, “Wonderful! I hope things continue to go well for you.” To those who teach, and love their profession (and their students) I say, “Thank you for all of your hard work and care. We need more teachers like you!” I know some really great teachers who care deeply for their students. Those great teachers are one of the reasons that Mrs. Miner, the Tuttle Twins’ caring and compassionate teacher, has played such a prominent role in so many of our books.

Unfortunately, the reality for a lot of families is that their children are not thriving in school. Not only are they not thriving, but they are turning to the internet en masse to find answers to the feelings of sadness and loneliness and despair that they are feeling every single day. The truth is that the system simply isn’t effective at meeting the unique and individual needs of children and families.

The world doesn’t look the way it did fifty years ago, and although arguments can be made as to whether the changes have been for better or for worse (I tend to think there’s been a great deal of change in both directions), the fact that the system may have worked okay for the majority of families a generation ago doesn’t work anymore.

Our kids, through their actions, their behavior, and their Google searches, are trying to tell us something. Are we listening?

The late John Taylor Gatto was listening when he said, “School reform is not enough. The notion of schooling itself must be challenged.”

I’m encouraged when I read about programs like this one launched just this week called Unschool.school. Part of their mission reads:

Unschool.school offers families access to a wide variety of alternatives to conventional K-12 schooling. From in-home microschools run by local parents and educators, to in-person group classes led by dynamic subject-matter experts, to out-of-school enrichment activities in your community, Unschool.school supports and champions real-life learning without schooling.

By creating connections to an array of local schooling alternatives and passionate educators, Unschool.school helps families shift from a one-size-fits-all schooling model to a personalized learning model focused around each learner’s distinct passions and goals.

Their site goes on to talk about the type of educators they are recruiting—people who have retired after many years working in their profession, hobbyists who have refined their skills and talents outside of formal training, former educators who want to continue to teach but like Mr. Gatto before them feel that their chosen profession actually causes more harm than good—anyone with a set of skills and the desire to share them with young people.

Cities and communities all over the country are creating groups and organizations to help parents and children find ways to meet their education goals outside of the outdated and often harmful walls of traditional classrooms. This education awakening even touches the Tuttle family in our tenth book, The Tuttle Twins and the Education Vacation where, encouraged by Mrs. Miner, the Tuttle family attends a lecture by John Taylor Gatto where they learn all about the history and purpose of compulsory education. If you haven’t read it yet, I won’t spoil it for you—but let’s just say that the Tuttle family makes some pretty big changes after Mr. Gatto’s lecture… with the blessing and encouragement of Mrs. Miner, of course. 😉

Regardless of what the ideal method of education looks like for your family, the important thing is that parents and families remain free to choose the path that is best suited to their unique needs. There seems to be a lot of effort these days to politicize education choice, and that’s a real shame. Because I’m willing to bet that the commonly searched phrases about how school makes kids feel doesn’t follow any political or economic or racial or any other easily polarized demographic.

They’re just kids. And regardless of where they are from or where they go to school—many of them are miserable. I believe that parents know what’s best for their children. And the best way to help kids who are miserable in school is to allow parents all the options and opportunities and freedom to create the education experience that best suits their child.

I will continue to support education choice within my community and I hope that you will consider doing the same—regardless of what type of education you’ve found works best for your own family.

—  Connor