Author Archives: Mike Reid

About Mike Reid

Mike Reid has served as a marketing & publishing consultant for Institute for Humane Studies, the Arkansas Center for Research in Economics, the Mercatus Center, and more. Mike loves expressing big ideas with little words, studying audience data, and experimenting with new technologies connecting audiences with messages they care about. His current passion projects are in email marketing.

Anything Worth Learning Can’t Be Taught

Mike Reid had a great chat with Kerry Lutz of the Financial Survival Network on education yesterday.

Children are learning machines. Kids learn everything, and not just what we try to teach them. They look for knowledge in any place that they can find it. However, now the United Nations wants to mandate authority-based education: the system that has worked so well in the US. This means that children in developing countries will be forced to learn in centralized factory-type facilities. They will be prevented from working, thereby limiting their workplace knowledge.

Mike believes that the key to truly higher education lies in privatizing schools, allowing children to learn in the workplace, and recognizing that different kids learn differently.

Check out the podcast on FSN.

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Passive Gunfire

In Mark Bowden’s account of the SEAL Team Six mission that killed Osama bin Laden, he uses a very clever form of the old passive-voice-for-government-violence trick.

The passive voice, for those who need a refresher, is a way of organizing a sentence that downplays the actor and emphasizes that which is acted on. For instance, in the classic passive sentence “Mistakes were made,” the emphasis is on the mistakes. But who made them?

I noted in “The Voice of Tyranny” that the passive voice is especially useful for diffusing responsibility for state violence, as in “the protestor was struck in the head.”

In his account of the SEAL raid on bin Laden’s Abottabad compound, Bowden uses the active voice when the SEALs shoot bin Laden or anyone who is clearly an enemy combatant, but he uses the passive voice every time the SEALS put a bullet in a woman or anyone who might be considered an innocent bystander.
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Horrible Schools for the Whole World: Exporting Educational Failure

At a United Nations meeting in the year 2000, the world’s governments agreed on the goal of enrolling every child on the planet in primary schooling by 2015.[1] Strangely, this lofty plan does not say anything about the quality of schooling; the whole idea is to get children into government-approved classrooms, apparently regardless of what happens there.

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Have You Been Bitten by a Zombie Quote?

A libertarian author writes,

I confess I was lured to your site when I should have been writing and editing something else. 

It was the zombie quote article.

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One Race to School Them All: Indian Residential Schools

The great antifascist scholar Ludwig von Mises warned that government schools are an inevitable source of ethnic conflict, because dominant nationalities can use them to indoctrinate children from other cultures, pulling them away from their parents and communities.[1] In Canada, this was explicitly the aim of the Indian residential schools, which sought to “kill the Indian in the child.”[2]

The Canadian government began the schooling of aboriginal children in earnest by setting up the residential-school program in 1883. The goal was to take kids away from their disobedient, barbarian parents and make them into submissive, civilized British subjects.
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The Voice of Tyranny: A Libertarian Look at the Passive Voice

The reporting on a violent incident at the Occupy protests last year reveals the linguistic lengths to which newspapers can go to hide responsibility. The National Post said it best:

Scott Olsen, 24, a former U.S. Marine who served two tours of duty in Iraq, was struck in the head by a tear gas canister fired on Tuesday by police trying to prevent protesters from reclaiming a public square.

Olsen was standing about 30 feet from the police barricades at Occupy Oakland when the cops launched tear gas and fired bean-bag rounds into the crowd. The hit to Olsen’s forehead knocked him down on the concrete and fractured his skull.

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Respect Indigenous Property Rights

Environmentalists and mining companies are fighting over the fate of the remote Klappan Valley in northern British Columbia. The different sides struggle for government approval of their particular plans, but almost no one fully acknowledges the property rights of the first owners of the valley, the indigenous Tahltan people.

The Tahltan have lived in and around the Klappan Valley since before there were any states at all in North America. They defended this rich territory against rival tribes, as Tahltan leaders put it, “from time immemorial, at the cost of our own blood,” long before European contact.[1] They defended it against the mercantilist Hudson’s Bay Company in the 1800s. And now they are defending it against the corporate cronies of the central government.

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The Tyranny of the Cultural Curators

The state is at its most arrogant when it tries to protect us from ourselves. And there is perhaps no group of people subjected to a more absurd policy of state "protection" than the Jarawa tribe of India. They are confined to a reserve and forbidden to interact with outsiders, ostensibly for their own good.

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In Praise of Government Gridlock

In California, a law that promised to control politicians is now being used to control the public.

California’s Proposition 25 promised to rein in runaway spending and "end budget gridlock" by hitting politicians’ pocketbooks. Every day on which lawmakers failed to pass a balanced budget after their June 15 deadline each year would be a day of pay they lost.

This was an attempt to increase government "efficiency" — to make government conform to the laws of business: you must give people the things they want on time or you do not get paid. But, as Mises wrote, "government efficiency and industrial efficiency are entirely different things."

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Even “Primitives” Pursue Profit

Anticapitalists like to use examples of supposedly selfless gift exchanges in “primitive” societies to contrast with the greedy behavior of modern markets. But a closer look at one famous exotic gift exchange, the Trobriand Islanders’ Kula, actually reinforces libertarians’ claims about the universal power of the profit motive.

In the elaborate Kula trade among the islands off the eastern tip of New Guinea, men sailed for many miles to receive ceremonial gifts of shell jewelry, apparently for the sole purpose of giving those gifts away again within a year or two.

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