Mini Lessons

Even the best curriculum needs a good shake up every now and then. Mini lessons are one-off and timely, related to the subject(s) you teach, offer your lessons reinforcement (or a needed diversion), and drive home powerful messages in the most creative of ways.

How to get a New York Strip

Read from Common Sense Economics: What Everyone Should Know about Wealth and Prosperity (St. Martin’s Press, 2016): In a modern economy, the cooperation that comes from self-interest directed by the invisible hand of market prices is truly amazing. The next time you sit down to a nice dinner, think about all the people who helped make it possible. It is … Read More

The Invisible Hand

From Common Sense Economics eBook: Self-interest is a powerful motivator. As Adam Smith noted long ago, when directed by the invisible hand, self-interested individuals will have a strong incentive to undertake actions that promote the general prosperity of a community or nation. The “invisible hand” to which Smith refers is the price system. The individual “intends only his own gain” but ... Read More

Valuable Stuff – not jobs – is what makes us all better off!

Production of goods and services people value, not just jobs, provides the source of high living standards. Read from Common Sense Economics: What Everyone Should Know about Wealth and Prosperity (St. Martin’s Press, 2016): … While employment is often used as a means to create wealth, we must remember that it is not simply more jobs that improve our economic … Read More

Business Failures

Profits direct businesses toward productive activities that increase the value of resources, while losses direct them away from wasteful activities that reduce resource value. Read from Common Sense Economics: What Everyone Should Know about Wealth and Prosperity (St. Martin’s Press, 2016): In a market economy, losses and business failures work constantly to bring inefficient activities – such as producing shirts … Read More

Separation of Powers

Read from Common Sense Government eBook: Federalism and Separation of Powers Like federalism, the separation of powers principle was designed as a check on federal authority. But whereas federalism was a check from without in the form of the states, separation of powers is a check from within. The phrase most often associated with the separation of powers is “checks ... Read More

George Washington Had The Hardest Job

Read from Common Sense American History: George Washington, elected as the first president of the new nation, provided exceptional leadership that allowed the republic to prosper and not fall into chaos or tyranny. Partisan divide arose quickly in his administration over the powers of the government. This divide was represented by Washington’s Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, and Secretary … Read More

Federalism

Read from Common Sense Government: Federalism is the division of power between the states and the national government. The United States began with a system generally known as “dual federalism.” In short, the national government and state governments were understood to be equally powerful within their own proper spheres of activity. The national government was limited in a number of … Read More

Creating Wealth…

People earn income by providing others with things they value. Read from Common Sense Economics: What Everyone Should Know about Wealth and Prosperity (St. Martin’s Press, 2016): People differ in many ways – in their productive abilities, preferences, specialized skills, attitudes, and willingness to take risk. These differences influence people’s incomes because they affect the value of the goods and … Read More

Power Tends To Corrupt…

Read from Common Sense American History: Those who attended the convention were men of power and privilege, yet they distrusted unrestrained power, whether in a king or a tyrant, a corrupt legislature, or the demos – the people – themselves. Their faith in progress was tempered by their understanding of human nature, which combined the ability to reason and a … Read More

The Boston Massacre

Read from Common Sense American History: When British customs officials in 1768 seized the ship Liberty, owned by wealthy Boston merchant John Hancock, a mob attacked customs officials. The British responded by stationing two troop regiments in Boston. In 1770, a new British government headed by Lord Frederick North, a Tory, repealed the Townsend Act, but Lord North kept a … Read More

1.5 Transaction Costs

Common Sense Economics: What Everyone Needs to Know about Wealth and Prosperity People who help others arrange trades and make better choices reduce transaction costs and promote economic progress. Such specialists, sometimes called middlemen, include campus bookstores, real estate agents, stockbrokers, automobile dealers, and a wide variety of merchants. Many believe that middlemen merely increase the price of goods and ... Read More

Thank you – No, Thank You!

Common Sense Economics: What Everyone Needs to Know about Wealth and Prosperity The importance of trade in our modern world can hardly be exaggerated. Trade makes it possible for most of us to consume a bundle of goods and services far beyond what we would be able to produce for ourselves. Can you imagine the difficulty involved in producing your own ... Read More

Factions and Federalist #10

Common Sense Government eBook: The Constitution Federalist 10 is widely held to be a high water mark in American political thought, and this number gets to the heart of why the Framers gave us both a republic instead of a democracy, and a large republic instead of a small one. Following the analysis Publius offered in Federalist 9, we here ... Read More

If you do something good for me…

Read from Common Sense Economics: What Everyone Should Know about Wealth and Prosperity (St. Martin’s Press, 2016): The foundation of trade is mutual gain. People agree to an exchange because they expect it to improve their well-being. The motivation for trade is summed up in the statement: “If you do something good for me, I will do something good for … Read More

The Constitutional Convention

Read from Common Sense Government: Did the Convention overstep its authority right from the first? The Constitution was not a revision of the Articles in any real sense, but revision of the Articles required unanimous consent. Given that Rhode Island did not even send delegates, there was a deep legal problem with the entire affair. Making matters worse, only 9 … Read More

The Great Compromise

Common Sense Government eBook: The Constitution … The Constitution enshrined neither the Virginia nor the New Jersey plans. Instead, in the Great, or Connecticut Compromise, elements from each were adopted for inclusion. The large states got some of what they wanted in the form of the House of Representatives, which is filled according to population. Large states are thus better ... Read More

There Is No Such Thing as a Free Lunch (TINSTAAFL)

Read from Common Sense Economics: What Everyone Should Know about Wealth and Prosperity (St. Martin’s Press, 2016): Politicians, government officials, and lobbyists often speak of “free education,” “free medical care,” or “free housing.” This terminology is deceptive. These things are not free. Scarce resources are required to produce each of them and alternative uses exists. For example, the buildings, labor, … Read More

Just One More …

Common Sense Economics: What Everyone Needs to Know about Wealth and Prosperity Nearly all choices are made at the margin. That means that they almost always involve additions to (or subtractions from) current conditions, rather than “all-or-nothing” decisions. The word “additional” is a substitute for “marginal.” … For example, when there is a lot of pollution—so much, say, that we ... Read More

Decisions are made at the margin

Read from Common Sense Economics: What Everyone Should Know about Wealth and Prosperity (St. Martin’s Press, 2016): Watch: CSE: Thinking at the Margin CSE: Thinking At The Margin from Certell on Vimeo. 1. While watching the video, think about some decisions you make “at the margin”. For example, imagine your favorite food is pizza. On Sunday, your ordered five pizzas … Read More

TINSTAAFL

Common Sense Economics: What Everyone Needs to Know about Wealth and Prosperity The reality of life on our planet is that productive resources are limited, while the human desire for goods and services is virtually unlimited. Would you like to have some new clothes, a luxury boat, or a vacation in the Swiss Alps? How about more time for leisure, ... Read More

Shays’ Rebellion

Common Sense Government eBook: The Articles of Confederation, Shays' Rebellion, and the Call for a Constitutional Convention Watch both: Shays' Rebellion was a localized event in Massachusetts, but the shock waves created by it reverberated throughout the states. The more insightful Americans at the time realized, quite quickly, that the events that played out in Shays' Rebellion could, and likely ... Read More

Limitations of the Articles of Confederation

Read from Common Sense Government: While a league of friendship was undoubtedly better than many of the alternatives, it was by no means sufficient as a governing concept for the United States. The failures of the Articles were felt almost immediately, and most acutely by none other than George Washington. Under the Articles, the states were repeatedly unable to respond … Read More

The Articles of Confederation

Read from Common Sense Government: The Articles of Confederation Watch: CSG: The Articles of Confederation in One Minute CSG: The Articles of Confederation in One Minute from Certell on Vimeo. 1. Imagine the Articles of Confederation was still the governing document of the “united States.” What would be different? 2. Much of Europe, today, is governed by a “confederation,” called … Read More

Discovery

Read from Common Sense American History for Life When Christopher Columbus discovered the New World – the American continent – he was not the first European to have visited the continent nor was he the first person to arrive in the Americas. Vikings had sailed from Greenland to Newfoundland around the year 1000 and established a settlement in Vinland, but … Read More

The Declaration of Independence

Read from Common Sense Government: The Declaration is, without question, one of the most important documents to emerge from the 18th century, and probably the whole of human history. The principles espoused within the Declaration have been used by virtually every revolutionary movement which has appeared on the world stage since. Consider that the French Revolution, the American civil rights … Read More

Where’d the Brick Go?

Common Sense Economics: What Everyone Needs to Know about Wealth and Prosperity In a market economy entrepreneurs are free to innovate. They need only the support of investors (often including themselves) willing to put up the necessary funds. The approval of central planners, a legislative majority, or business rivals is not required. Nonetheless, competition holds entrepreneurs and the investors who ... Read More

Incentives Matter: King-Sized Homer

Common Sense Economics: What Everyone Needs to Know about Wealth and Prosperity There’s no way to get around the importance of incentives. They are a part of human nature. … In the former Soviet Union, managers and employees of glass plants were at one time rewarded according to the tons of sheet glass they produced. Because their revenues depended on ... Read More

The Consent of the Governed: Lockean Ideals

Read from Common Sense Government: Watch: CSG: Monty Python and Pre-Revolution Locke Ideals CSG: Monty Python and Pre-Revolution Locke Ideals from Certell on Vimeo. 1. Imagine yourself back at the beginning of human society. What differentiated a ruler from a thug? If one or the other rode up on horseback and demanded obedience, how could you tell if he or … Read More

The Seven Years’ War

Common Sense Government: The Seven Years' War Things did not really heat up between the British and the colonists until 1763, at the culmination of the Seven Years’ War, which is also known as the French and Indian War. The causes of the war, while interesting, are not nearly as important as what happened in its wake. This event, more than ... Read More

Incentives Matter

Read: from Common Sense Economics: What Everyone Should Know about Wealth and Prosperity (St. Martin’s Press, 2016): All of Economics rest on one simple principle: Changes in incentives influence human behavior in predictable ways. Both monetary and nonmonetary factors influence incentives. If something becomes more costly, people will be less likely to choose it. Correspondingly, when the benefits derived from an … Read More

“Early Encounters”

Read from Common Sense American History for Life Less than a quarter century after Columbus’s arrival in the New World, Hernán Cortéz encountered the first major American civilization, the Aztecs, when he arrived at Tonochtitlán, a city of 200,000 people in 1519. Cortéz’s encounter was, as one of his men later recalled, like an “enchanted vision.” Aztec wealth was unlike … Read More

The War on Terror

From Common Sense Government eBook: The Idea that the world was rapidly moving to a period of peace and liberal cooperation changed on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001 when America experienced the first attack on its continental homeland since the war of 1812. Two airplanes crashed into the twin towers of New York City’s World Trade Center, another into ... Read More

Trumpism

From Common Sense American History eBook: In 2016, to almost everyone’s surprise, former Democrat, entrepreneur, and TV star Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton and became America’s 45th president. Trump’s victory was built around a number of themes, focused most importantly on taking back America from a cosmopolitan political, economic, and media elite. Trump defeated Clinton by winning typically Republican states, ... Read More

The Productive Function of Government

From Common Sense Economics eBook: The second primary function of government, the productive function, involves the provision of activities that are difficult to provide through markets. There is both an indirect and direct component of this productive function. The indirect component involves the creation of an environment for the efficient operation of markets. As noted, a legal structure that protects ... Read More

The End of History

From Common Sense Government eBook: With the collapse of the Soviet Union, international politics transitioned from a bipolar structure with two opposed superpowers to a unipolar world, with the United States as the only superpower. To many, this signaled a victory for American-style liberal democracy against alternative forms of governance. American political scientist Francis Fukuyama argued that it signaled an ... Read More

Creating an Even Playing Field

From Common Sense Economics eBook: What Everyone Should Know about Wealth and Prosperity Governments play a vitally important economic role. Governments can promote social cooperation and enhance the welfare of the citizenry through the performance of two major functions: (1) the protective function that provides people with protection for their lives, liberties, and properties; and (2) the productive function that ... Read More

The Audacity of Hope

From: Common Sense American History eBook: In 2004, a little-know senate candidate from Illinois electrified the Democratic party in his nomination speech for John Kerry. Barack Obama, of course, went on to win his senate race, and four years later became president. As president, Obama went on to become a very polarizing figure. But in 2004, he was held up ... Read More

William Jefferson Clinton

From: Common Sense American History eBook: Bill Clinton was riding high after his election in 1992. With Vice President Al Gore at his side, he held daylong meetings on a variety of topics and discussed a range of potential policy actions for his White House. His youth and charm, after the older Bush left office, was refreshing to the country. ... Read More

Who Declares War?

From Common Sense Government eBook: Foreign Policy and the Constitution The federal government’s role in foreign affairs was a hot topic at the Constitutional Convention in 1787. The Articles of Confederation left many questions of commerce and security to the states, enabling foreign powers to exploit the differences. At the time of the Convention, there were still many foreign troops ... Read More

Do What You Do Best, and Trade for the Rest

From Common Sense Economics eBook: Many Americans believe that U.S. workers cannot compete with foreigners who sometimes make as little as $2 or $3 per day. This view is wrong and stems from a misunderstanding of both the source of high wages and the law of comparative advantage. Workers in the United States are well-educated, possess a high skill level, ... Read More

Hands off or a Helping Hand?

From Common Sense Government eBook: America’s role in the world for the past two-and-a-half centuries has been determined by the complex processes of politics, public opinion, territorial expansion, trade, immigration, and an ongoing debate about what America is and what it should be. Is it an empire? Is it a peaceable democracy? Should it be a police force for the ... Read More

Minimum Wage

From: Common Sense Economics eBook: What Everyone Should Know about Wealth and Prosperity: Minimum wage rates are perhaps the most commonly imposed price control throughout the world. A minimum wage rate establishes a price floor that pushes the hourly wage of some workers (and jobs) above the market level. It is currently a hot topic in the United States. Several leaders ... Read More

The Rise of Conservatism

From Common Sense American History eBook: On Jan. 20, 1981, Ronald Reagan was inaugurated as president on a cold but clear day. The former New Deal Democrat turned conservative Republican told the nation, “In the present crisis, government is not the solution to our problems, government is the problem,” rattling off the issues of greater regulation, larger spending programs and ... Read More

Four Dead in O-H-I-O

From Common Sense American History eBook: Richard Nixon won election in 1968 by promising he had a secret plan to end the war in Vietnam. No such plan existed. Instead, he went a full year with the policies followed by his predecessor, Lyndon Johnson, before devising a plan for the Vietnamization of the war. Vietnamization called for the gradual withdrawal of ... Read More

We are the Fourth Estate

From Common Sense Government eBook: The Internet and Democratization of the Media When Marshall McLuhan coined the phrase “Global Village” in the 1960s, he predicted an electronically interdependent world that would trend away from individualism and toward a new form of tribalism. People, he thought, would move toward homogeneous world-views because of the commonality of media available in real time. ... Read More

Private Property

From Common Sense Economics: What Everyone Should Know about Wealth and Prosperity eBook: Well-defined and enforced property rights are crucial for the realization of gains from trade. Property is a broad term that includes ownership of labor services, as well as physical assets such as buildings and land. Private ownership of property involves three things: (1) the right to exclusive ... Read More

When It was Hip to Be Conservative

From Common Sense American History eBook: On Sept. 11, 1960, a group of clean cut, conservative young people met at the Sharon, Connecticut, home of conservative publisher William F. Buckley Jr., editor of “National Review,” a conservative publication founded in 1955. The 90 assembled students, who had been involved on campus in the late 1950s fighting for anticommunist policies, had ... Read More

Who Works for Whom?

From Common Sense Government:  Bureaucratic growth was heightened at the outset of the twentieth century. After his 1912 inauguration, President Woodrow Wilson oversaw the most rapid bureaucratic growth in America’s history to that point. In 1913-14, he signed three laws which both created new and powerful federal agencies like the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Reserve, and expanded federal power ... Read More

In Whose Interest?

From Common Sense Government eBook: Most people naturally assume that politicians act in the public interest as they construct and conduct public policy. They hold to a romantic view of politics that holds, ultimately, that human behavior in the political realm is somehow different, indeed better, than human behavior in almost every other realm. Politics, is, after all, the way ... Read More

Secondary Effects

When considering economic policies, it is important to look not only in the intended effects, but also to anticipate the unintended ones if one is to evaluate the true costs and benefits of a program. From Common Sense Economics: What Everyone Should Know about Wealth and Prosperity eBook: Let’s consider a couple of examples that illustrate the potential importance of secondary ... Read More

I Love Lucy!

From Common Sense American History eBook: Americans living in the two decades after World War II witnessed a period of unprecedented economic growth and the creation of an abundant and affluent society. America had emerged from the war with its territory and infrastructure unscathed by bombing, unlike much of the rest of the world. The arsenal of democracy had produced ... Read More

Separate is not Equal

From Common Sense Government eBook: This campaign to end segregation, which involved a number of cases, came to a head with Brown v. Board of Education, when the Court finally and overtly decided against separate but equal formulations. Relying on the work of psychologists and sociologists, the Court concluded that the segregation of children in schools on the basis of ... Read More

The Marshall Plan

From Common Sense American History eBook: On Mar. 12, 1947, Truman announced his Truman Doctrine, securing $400 million in military aid from a Republican Congress for Greece and Turkey, arguing “I believe it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities and outside pressures.” Isolationism was broken and ... Read More

Hitler and the Road to War

From Common Sense American History eBook: The outbreak of war in Europe was the culmination of six years of diplomatic maneuvering and international defiance by Adolf Hitler, who came to power as Chancellor of Germany in Jan. 1933. Hitler led the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nazis), which emphasized defying the limits on German arms forced on the government at ... Read More

The March on Washington

From Common Sense Government eBook: Civil liberties are protections for citizens against illegitimate encroachments on the part of the government. In many respects, the Constitution itself is a guarantee of civil liberties, because the Constitution creates a government of enumerated powers, which means that the government can only do the things that it is specifically empowered to do in that ... Read More

The Job of the Entrepreneur

From Common Sense Economics eBook: What Everyone Should Know about Wealth and Prosperity: Investment and improvements in technology do not just happen. They reflect the actions of entrepreneurs, people who take risks in the hope of profit. No one knows what the next innovative breakthrough will be or just which production techniques will reduce costs. Furthermore, entrepreneurs are often found ... Read More

The Great Depression

From Common Sense American History eBook: Hoover did not believe in direct relief for the unemployed. He continued to profess a doctrine of self-initiative and individualism and believed the federal government should not be involved in relief. This hurt him with the electorate as Democratic politicians and the media blamed the president for the suffering in the depression. Bread lines ... Read More

The Goal is Stuff – not just Jobs!

From Common Sense Economics eBook: What Everyone Should Know about Wealth and Prosperity: As Adam Smith noted some 240 years ago, consumption is the objective of all production. But, consumption comes before production only in the dictionary. Income and living standards cannot increase without an increase in the production of goods and services that people value. … Clearly, destroying commonly ... Read More

Marbury v. Madison

From Common Sense Government eBook: This case grew out of one of the great early political struggles in the young republic. Shortly after the ratification of the Constitution, two rival political parties emerged with widely different views of the Constitution and governmental power. The Federalists supported a strong national government, including the power of judicial review. The Anti-Federalists (an intellectual ... Read More

Power to Ya

From Common Sense Government eBook: Compared to Article One, the description of the President is vague and general. The President is commander in chief of the armed forces, which is significant. He is also tasked with executing the laws that Congress writes. Apart from those matters, though, the rest of the list reads like a job description for a sort ... Read More

Adding Value

From Common Sense Economics eBook: What Everyone Should Know about Wealth and Prosperity In a market economy, people who earn high incomes do so because they provide others with things they value more than their cost. If these individuals did not provide valuable goods or services, consumers would not pay them so generously. There is a moral here: If you ... Read More

Flapper Girls

From Common Sense American History eBook: Women were the public face of Prohibition defiance, particularly the young, single, working girl known as a flapper, who bobbed her hair, wore short skirts, smoked cigarettes and flaunted her sexuality. Owed to the writings of F. Scott Fitzgerald, whose wife Zelda popularized the flapper style, Hollywood movies made fortunes with flapper films. At ... Read More

Sinking of the Lusitania

From Common Sense American History eBook: … the British Royal Navy’s blockade of the German coast and the failure of the German navy to break the blockade in the Battle of Jutland (1915) in the North Sea complicated the neutral rights of Americans. Germany turned to the submarine to attack British merchant shipping and to fight back against the superior ... Read More

Who Decides? Who Cares?

Read from Common Sense Government eBook: The Constitution, as originally written, created a complicated system of controls to prevent the consolidation of power in any one person, or institution. One reason for this is that the framers were trying to balance two concerns: how to create a government for a free society without having a monarch, on the one hand, ... Read More

Help Yourself by Helping Others

Read from Common Sense Economics eBook: When you think of Steve Jobs, do you think of someone who was selfish? Greedy? Out to cheat you out of your hard-earned money by giving you a shoddy product? No, you think of a visionary designer, product engineer, and innovator. Yet he also became one of the wealthiest people on the planet. The ... Read More

Progressivism and Reform

Read from Common Sense American History eBook The emergence of large, powerful corporations, squalid urban conditions, working conditions and political corruption produced a reform movement called progressivism. Signs of reform were already apparent in the late 19th century. Calls for reform were seen in attempts to regulate railroads, urban reform, agrarian populism and factions within both the Republican and Democratic parties. Progressive ... Read More

Demand, Supply, and Adjustments to Dynamic Change

From Common Sense Economics, Supplement A eBook. The law of demand states that there is a negative relationship between the price of a good and the quantity purchased. It is merely a reflection of the basic postulate of economics: when an action becomes more costly, fewer people will choose it. An increase in the price of a product will make ... Read More

The Rough Riders

Read from Common Sense American History eBook.: On Feb. 15, 1898, the Maine exploded in Havana harbor, killing 235 sailors and quickly sinking the ship. No cause was ever determined for the explosion. Whether it was the result of a Spanish mine or coal dust igniting has never been proven. But the national press, including the newspapers of Joseph Pulitzer and ... Read More

The Huddled Masses

From Common Sense American History eBook: The new immigration to America, which rose in importance from the 1880s until it was cut off by federal law in the 1920s, represented the second-largest period of immigration in the nation’s history—only surpassed by the period from 1965-present. More than 40 million people, mostly Europeans, came to the United States during this time. ... Read More

Black Codes

Read from Common Sense American History: American politics in the late 19th century reflected strong religious and ethnic, as well as regional, divisions. Americans remained an intensely religious people. Loyalty to one’s religion and church affected how many Americans voted. Much like the early 19th century, Americans experienced waves of religious revivals that swept urban and rural areas. The Republicans were ... Read More

“Go West, Young Man!”

From Common Sense American History: The Trans-Mississippi West plays a prominent role in American myths about the past. Cultural icons like the cowboy and Indian reflect those myths, with Hollywood movies and television shows depicting the individual farmer, rancher and cowboy contesting the forces of nature and the danger of Indian attacks on the frontier. In most cases, the cultural ... Read More

A Common Sense Government

Image Source: Indiana University Library Archives From Common Sense Government: As a revolutionary agitator, Thomas Paine was in a class by himself. Whereas Samuel Adams was a career politician, Paine was a career agitator.  He came to America just in time to foment revolution with the publication of Common Sense.  As soon as the American War for Independence was finished, ... Read More

Exposing American Ingenuity

Read from Common Sense American History eBook: Visitors to the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition during the summer of 1876 could see numerous reminders of the previous century of American freedom, including copies of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. These documents were displayed with exhibits showing American and European contributions to science, agriculture and the arts. These exhibits expressed Americans' ... Read More

The End of History

Read from Common Sense Government The presidencies of George H.W. Bush from 1989 to 1993 and Bill Clinton from 1993 to 2001 were marked by increased international economic integration and a few brief military engagements. Both presidents worked to negotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, which was signed during the Clinton administration and greatly increased trade between the three signatories: ... Read More

Low Tax Rates

Read from Common Sense Economics When high tax rates take a large share of income, the incentive to work and use resources productively declines. The marginal tax rate is particularly important. This is the share of additional income that is taxed away at any given income level. For example, in the United States in 2015, if a taxpayer with $60,000 in ... Read More

The Failure of Reconstruction

Read from Common Sense American History Reconstruction continued to lurch forward, but an exhausted nation began to focus on other problems facing the nation. Industry switched from military to civil production, and union veterans returned to their farms, businesses, and crafts. Some joined in building the transcontinental railroad to California, completed in 1869.  Immigration, which had stopped for the most part during ... Read More

Tear Down This Wall

Read from Common Sense Government Ronald Reagan, the final president of the Cold War era, ended the period of détente by increasing military spending and undertaking a rhetorical campaign against the Soviet Union specifically, and communism generally. Reagan revived the language of American exceptionalism, calling the Soviet Union an “evil empire.” He also returned to the containment policies of the ... Read More

Monetary Stability

Read from Common Sense Economics Money is vitally important for the operation of an economy. Most importantly, money is a means of exchange. It reduces transaction costs because it provides a common denominator into which the value of all goods and services can be converted. Money also makes it possible for people to gain from complex exchanges with a time ... Read More

Radical Republicans and Reconstruction

Read from Common Sense American History In 1867, the Reconstruction Act was passed over Johnson’s veto establishing five military districts in ten of the ex-Confederate states. Twenty-thousand federal troops, including a number of black units, occupied the South. Military rule replace conservative state governments previously recognized by Johnson. Congress demanded that for southern states to be admitted into the union, ... Read More

African Americans after the war

From Common Sense American History: With the collapse of the Confederacy in 1865, Union officers and slaveholders throughout the South informed blacks that slavery was dead.  Slavery’s end brought jubilation to blacks throughout the region. Many blacks, including former house servants, once thought by slaveholders as loyal, deserted plantations and farms in droves.  These freed slaves were called Freedmen at last. ... Read More

Radio Waves

From Common Sense Government: After the commercialization of the radio, people no longer had to wait for the publication of a newspaper. Radio broadcast news was running hours before daily papers could be printed and distributed. With broadcast media available seemingly at a moment’s notice, politicians suddenly had a new means for reaching the public. The first half of the 20th ... Read More

Allocating Capital

From Common Sense Economics: Allocating Capital Given the pace of change and the diversity of entrepreneurial talent, the knowledge required for sound decision-making about the allocation of capital is far beyond the scope of any single leader, industrial planning committee, or government agency. Without a private capital market, there is no mechanism that can be counted on to consistently channel ... Read More

Lee’s Surrender

From Common Sense American History: Clearly defeated, Lee surrendered to Grant at the Appomattox Courthouse, eighty miles west of Richmond on April 2, 1865. The Civil War finally ended.  Lincoln sought to reconcile the two warring sides. He viewed the war as a tragedy caused by the sin of slavery. Having come into office relatively inexperienced, Lincoln proved to be ... Read More

Government Regulation and Competition

From Common Sense Economics: What Everyone Should Know about Wealth and Prosperity: As recently as 1970, fewer than 15 percent of Americans worked in jobs that required a license. Today, the figure is nearly 30 percent, and it is continuing to grow. In the mid-1980s, 800 occupations were licensed in at least one state; now, according to the Council ... Read More

Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink!

Bureaucratic inertia describes the tendency of administrative institutions to complicate their operations at the expense of accomplishing their original goals. The more complicated procedural frameworks become, the more time it will take to negotiate those procedures, which in turn means it will be more difficult for the bureaucracy to achieve the ends it was designed to pursue in the first ... Read More

Gettysburg

Read from Common Sense American History eBook: … Diplomacy abroad had prevented recognition of the Confederacy, but the Federal army made little progress in defeating Lee’s army in Virginia. In early May, General Hooker’s 130,000 federal troops advanced against Lee’s army of 60,000. The two armies confronted one another at Chancellorsville between Richmond and Washington. Lee sent General Stonewall Jackson … Read More

Flying High

Read from Common Sense Government eBook: Cyril Northcote Parkinson opened a Nov. 1955 article in The Economist with a simple formulation. “It is a commonplace observation,” he wrote, “that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” He applied this concept to politics, arguing that the rise in the number of bureaucrats didn’t actually reflect the … Read More

The Importance of Competition to a Market Economy

Read from Common Sense Economics: What Everyone Should Know about Wealth and Prosperity (St. Martin’s Press, 2016): What keeps McDonald’s, Walmart, Amazon, General Motors, or any other business firm from raising prices, selling shoddy products, and providing lousy service? Competition provides the answer. If McDonald’s fails to provide a tasty sandwich at an attractive price delivered with a smile, people … Read More

A Fair Legal System

Read from Common Sense Economics: What Everyone Should Know about Wealth and Prosperity (St. Martin’s Press, 2016): The foundation for economic progress is a legal system that protects privately owned property and enforces contracts in an evenhanded manner. The legal system provides the foundation for the protection of property rights and enforcement of contracts. … trade moves goods toward people … Read More

The Emancipation Proclamation

Read from Common Sense American History eBook: As the fighting [in the Civil War] turned bloody, without either side gaining the complete upper hand, Lincoln threatened to issue an order of emancipation of slaves. He hesitated to issue this order because he feared that critical Border States might align with the rebels. Finally, on Jan. 1, 1863 Lincoln issued the … Read More

How Are You Free?

Read from Common Sense Government eBook: The power of America’s current bureaucracy is evident in its role in shaping and carrying out legislative acts. Experts argue that American legislation is the result of an “Iron Triangle” of competition and cooperation between special interests, bureaucrats, and elected officials. Bureaucrats cultivate relationships with special interest groups like the American Farm Bureau Federation … Read More

Who’s the boss?

Read from Common Sense Government for Life eBook: The central domestic issue during the first decades of the 20th century concerned regulation of the economy. While Republicans continued to push the development of national infrastructure, Democrats took on a populist approach, which defended the common man in the face of large corporate trusts. They were decidedly anti-monopoly and pro-labor union, … Read More

Unseen Effects

Read from Common Sense Economics: What Everyone Should Know about Wealth and Prosperity (St. Martin’s Press, 2016):Trade restrictions between nations have important secondary effects. The proponents of tariffs and import quotas on foreign goods almost always ignore the secondary effects of their policies. Tariffs and quotas may initially protect the U.S. workers who make similar products at a higher cost. … Read More

Dred Scott

Read from Common Sense American History for Life eBook: The Supreme Court decided to address the slave question in the Dred Scott case. The case involved a Missouri slave, Dred Scott, whose owner had taken him into the federal territory north of Missouri, which was a free territory under the Missouri Compromise. After four years, Scott returned with his owner … Read More

Taking Liberties

Read from Common Sense Government for Life eBook: The civil liberties of American citizens, as guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, are illustrated by a series of statements regarding what government may not do. In the First Amendment, for example, there are protections of free speech, free exercise of religion, peaceable assembly and the free press, among others. These protections, … Read More

Remember the Alamo

Read from Common Sense American History for Life eBook: … By the early 1830s, Mexican authorities became alarmed by the flood of Americans into Texas. Mexican officials in Texas began to harass Americans in the province about their thwarting of anti-slavery laws, customs duties and failure to convert to Catholicism, as the Austins had promised in the establishment of their … Read More

The Legacy of Slavery after the Revolution

Read from Common Sense American History: The revolutionary generation found slavery contradictory to their beliefs in liberty and equality. In 1776, people of African ancestry made up one-fifth of the total population of the United States. Of these, 90 percent were slaves. Slavery was found in every state. In New England, slaves were only 3 percent of the population, contrasted … Read More

Nothing to fear…

Read from Common Sense Government: In the aftermath of the stock market crash of 1929 and subsequent economic collapse, the American people elected Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1932, an election which began a period of marginalization for the Republican Party that would last, in one way or another, for decades. Democrats would win seven of the nine presidential elections beginning … Read More

The Invisible Hand

Read from Common Sense Economics: What Everyone Should Know about Wealth and Prosperity (St. Martin’s Press, 2016): Economic progress comes primarily through trade, investment, better ways of doing things and sound economic institutions. Investment and improvements in technology do not just happen. They reflect the actions of entrepreneurs, people who take risks in the hope of profit. No one knows … Read More

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

A Methodist Camp Meeting Read from Common Sense American History: Many Americans believed that the future of this exceptional nation rested ultimately on a virtuous citizenry. Inspired by a religious revival of evangelical Protestantism that had swept across upstate New York through the Middle States into the South – the Second Great Awakening – reformers organized moral reform movements around … Read More

Who’s in Charge?

Read from Common Sense Government: … Abraham Lincoln represents the high water mark of the presidency in the 19th century. Although there is much debate surrounding Abraham Lincoln and his wartime actions, Lincoln nonetheless understood the institutional design of the Framers. He embodied the “energetic executive” discussed by Publius in Federalist 70 and was concerned chiefly with maintaining the constitutional … Read More

“A Man of the People”?

Read from Common Sense American History: The election of Andrew Jackson, a military hero, Tennessee slaveholder, Jeffersonian democrat, symbolized for his supporters and opponents a new age of politics. Jackson brought to national politics a new egalitarianism, reflecting the frontier west of the Appalachian Mountains. In this era, voting rights for all white males, frequent elections, term limits, and a … Read More

To be efficient or not to be efficient…

Read from Common Sense Government: Publius clearly thought that a system which could divide power as much as possible while still maintaining the ability to govern would be the safest option. The power surrendered by the people is first divided into two governments in the federalist scheme. After that, it is further divided among the competing branches of the federal … Read More

The Louisiana Purchase

Read from Common Sense American History: In 1803, Jefferson achieved the greatest success of his administration and one that would transform America: the Louisiana Purchase. In 1800, French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte acquired from Spain, New Orleans and a vast territory extending north to what is now North Dakota and west to parts of what is now New Mexico. New Orleans … Read More

Who guards the guardians?

Read from Common Sense Government: The powers of Congress are outlined in Article One of the United States Constitution. The Founders defined the powers of Congress in the first article of the Constitution because it was Congress, in a representative republic, which would logically wield the most power. As the most powerful branch in the government, Congress commands both fear … Read More

The Sedition Act

Read from Common Sense American History: In 1798 … Congress passed the Sedition Act. … This loosely drawn act barred ‘malicious [hateful] writing” that attacked the reputation of any official. Federalists used this law to attack ten Jeffersonian newspaper editors who were fined or imprisoned. Most prominent was Matthew Lyon of Vermont who won election to Congress while imprisoned in … Read More

Prices bring the choices of buyers and sellers into balance

Read from Common Sense Economics: What Everyone Should Know about Wealth and Prosperity (St. Martin’s Press, 2016): Market prices will influence the choices of both buyers and sellers. When a rise in the price of a good makes it more expensive for buyers to purchase it, they will normally choose to buy fewer units. Thus, there is a negative relationship … Read More

Mutual Assured Destruction

Watch: CSAH: The Cold War and a Cold War The Cold War and a Cold War from Certell on Vimeo. There is no doubt that madness plays a big role in the Game of Thrones. From the “Mad King” to Euron Greyjoy, Joffrey, and many others, there are plenty of people with loose screws floating about! Watch: CSAH: It’s Called … Read More

Transaction Costs Are An Obstacle To Trade

Watch: CSE: Specializations and Trade CSE: Pawn Stars- “Best Of Bartering” from Certell on Vimeo. 1. The internet is doing an incredible job lowering transaction costs. Think of some examples of things that would have been really hard for you to get or do, without the internet. How have they lowered your transaction costs? 2. Reflecting on the video, why … Read More

Strange Bedfellows

Watch: CSG: Alliances Alliances from Certell on Vimeo. People group together for a variety of reasons, voluntary, and involuntary. You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family. For the most part, we like, and are like those we choose to associate with as friends. Allies are a different story. We enter into alliances for a variety of … Read More

Kingslayer

Watch: CSG: Kingslayer Kingslayer from Certell on Vimeo. Jaime Lannister is known as the Kingslayer because he killed the Mad King, Aerys II Targaryen. He broke his oath to do so, because, well, the King had gone mad, and someone needed to do something! The problem of what to do when the king goes mad is as old as history. … Read More

Checks and Balances

Read: One of the great achievements of the past few hundred years has been the establishment of widely agreed standards for how we treat each other individually, collectively, and during times of conflict. St. Bartholomew, from the Martyr’s Mirror For most of history, however, those in power could do pretty much what they pleased, and human life and dignity were … Read More

Swearing is not what it used to be.

CSG: The Meaning of Allegiance from Certell on Vimeo. Apart from courtroom scenes in movies, we rarely think of swearing as anything other than cursing. It wasn’t always that way. Until the 20th Century, many states did not allow the testimony of blacks or atheists, as well as people related to the crime. The idea was that only Christians could … Read More

Manifesting Daenerys’ Destiny

CSG: Daenerys Manifest Destiny from Certell on Vimeo. In HBO’s Game of Thrones Season 7, Episode 1, Daenerys Targaryen finally made it back to Westeros! Whether she can conquer it, remains to be seen. Returning to Westeros, it seems, is part of her destiny. Who has the right to rule the land? Daenerys? Jon Snow – the King in the … Read More

Game of Thrones is about to start its much-anticipated seventh season!

CSE: Cost Of War from Certell on Vimeo. To make the transition to school a bit more fun, the Certell staff decided to see what educational lessons they might find throughout the series. Certell is a non-profit organization that combines popular media with high quality educational materials to teach common sense concepts in economics, government, and history to young adults … Read More

St. Nicholas Lesson

December 6th marks the celebration of St. Nicholas Day worldwide. Saint Nicholas is the basis for the American Christmas character Santa Claus. The “jolly ol’ elf” we think of in America is built around the Clement Moore poem, “Twas the night before Christmas.” St. Nicholas was actually a Christian bishop from Turkey, who became the patron saint of children, sailors, archers, … Read More

Holiday Giving

For many Americans, the months of November and December are filled with holiday preparations. For many, that preparation involves buying and giving gifts. Have you ever received a gift from a friend or family member that you thought to yourself, “I will never be able to use this,” or “I hope they included the gift receipt”? Check out the engaging … Read More

George Washington Had The Hardest Job

Read from Common Sense American History: George Washington, elected as the first president of the new nation, provided exceptional leadership that allowed the republic to prosper and not fall into chaos or tyranny. Partisan divide arose quickly in his administration over the powers of the government. This divide was represented by Washington’s Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, and Secretary … Read More

Power Tends To Corrupt…

Read from Common Sense American History: Those who attended the convention were men of power and privilege, yet they distrusted unrestrained power, whether in a king or a tyrant, a corrupt legislature, or the demos – the people – themselves. Their faith in progress was tempered by their understanding of human nature, which combined the ability to reason and a … Read More

The Boston Massacre

Read from Common Sense American History: When British customs officials in 1768 seized the ship Liberty, owned by wealthy Boston merchant John Hancock, a mob attacked customs officials. The British responded by stationing two troop regiments in Boston. In 1770, a new British government headed by Lord Frederick North, a Tory, repealed the Townsend Act, but Lord North kept a … Read More

Discovery

Read from Common Sense American History for Life When Christopher Columbus discovered the New World – the American continent – he was not the first European to have visited the continent nor was he the first person to arrive in the Americas. Vikings had sailed from Greenland to Newfoundland around the year 1000 and established a settlement in Vinland, but … Read More

“Early Encounters”

Read from Common Sense American History for Life Less than a quarter century after Columbus’s arrival in the New World, Hernán Cortéz encountered the first major American civilization, the Aztecs, when he arrived at Tonochtitlán, a city of 200,000 people in 1519. Cortéz’s encounter was, as one of his men later recalled, like an “enchanted vision.” Aztec wealth was unlike … Read More

Trumpism

From Common Sense American History eBook: In 2016, to almost everyone’s surprise, former Democrat, entrepreneur, and TV star Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton and became America’s 45th president. Trump’s victory was built around a number of themes, focused most importantly on taking back America from a cosmopolitan political, economic, and media elite. Trump defeated Clinton by winning typically Republican states, ... Read More

The Audacity of Hope

From: Common Sense American History eBook: In 2004, a little-know senate candidate from Illinois electrified the Democratic party in his nomination speech for John Kerry. Barack Obama, of course, went on to win his senate race, and four years later became president. As president, Obama went on to become a very polarizing figure. But in 2004, he was held up ... Read More

William Jefferson Clinton

From: Common Sense American History eBook: Bill Clinton was riding high after his election in 1992. With Vice President Al Gore at his side, he held daylong meetings on a variety of topics and discussed a range of potential policy actions for his White House. His youth and charm, after the older Bush left office, was refreshing to the country. ... Read More

The Rise of Conservatism

From Common Sense American History eBook: On Jan. 20, 1981, Ronald Reagan was inaugurated as president on a cold but clear day. The former New Deal Democrat turned conservative Republican told the nation, “In the present crisis, government is not the solution to our problems, government is the problem,” rattling off the issues of greater regulation, larger spending programs and ... Read More

Four Dead in O-H-I-O

From Common Sense American History eBook: Richard Nixon won election in 1968 by promising he had a secret plan to end the war in Vietnam. No such plan existed. Instead, he went a full year with the policies followed by his predecessor, Lyndon Johnson, before devising a plan for the Vietnamization of the war. Vietnamization called for the gradual withdrawal of ... Read More

When It was Hip to Be Conservative

From Common Sense American History eBook: On Sept. 11, 1960, a group of clean cut, conservative young people met at the Sharon, Connecticut, home of conservative publisher William F. Buckley Jr., editor of “National Review,” a conservative publication founded in 1955. The 90 assembled students, who had been involved on campus in the late 1950s fighting for anticommunist policies, had ... Read More

I Love Lucy!

From Common Sense American History eBook: Americans living in the two decades after World War II witnessed a period of unprecedented economic growth and the creation of an abundant and affluent society. America had emerged from the war with its territory and infrastructure unscathed by bombing, unlike much of the rest of the world. The arsenal of democracy had produced ... Read More

The Marshall Plan

From Common Sense American History eBook: On Mar. 12, 1947, Truman announced his Truman Doctrine, securing $400 million in military aid from a Republican Congress for Greece and Turkey, arguing “I believe it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities and outside pressures.” Isolationism was broken and ... Read More

Hitler and the Road to War

From Common Sense American History eBook: The outbreak of war in Europe was the culmination of six years of diplomatic maneuvering and international defiance by Adolf Hitler, who came to power as Chancellor of Germany in Jan. 1933. Hitler led the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nazis), which emphasized defying the limits on German arms forced on the government at ... Read More

The Great Depression

From Common Sense American History eBook: Hoover did not believe in direct relief for the unemployed. He continued to profess a doctrine of self-initiative and individualism and believed the federal government should not be involved in relief. This hurt him with the electorate as Democratic politicians and the media blamed the president for the suffering in the depression. Bread lines ... Read More

Flapper Girls

From Common Sense American History eBook: Women were the public face of Prohibition defiance, particularly the young, single, working girl known as a flapper, who bobbed her hair, wore short skirts, smoked cigarettes and flaunted her sexuality. Owed to the writings of F. Scott Fitzgerald, whose wife Zelda popularized the flapper style, Hollywood movies made fortunes with flapper films. At ... Read More

Sinking of the Lusitania

From Common Sense American History eBook: … the British Royal Navy’s blockade of the German coast and the failure of the German navy to break the blockade in the Battle of Jutland (1915) in the North Sea complicated the neutral rights of Americans. Germany turned to the submarine to attack British merchant shipping and to fight back against the superior ... Read More

Progressivism and Reform

Read from Common Sense American History eBook The emergence of large, powerful corporations, squalid urban conditions, working conditions and political corruption produced a reform movement called progressivism. Signs of reform were already apparent in the late 19th century. Calls for reform were seen in attempts to regulate railroads, urban reform, agrarian populism and factions within both the Republican and Democratic parties. Progressive ... Read More

The Rough Riders

Read from Common Sense American History eBook.: On Feb. 15, 1898, the Maine exploded in Havana harbor, killing 235 sailors and quickly sinking the ship. No cause was ever determined for the explosion. Whether it was the result of a Spanish mine or coal dust igniting has never been proven. But the national press, including the newspapers of Joseph Pulitzer and ... Read More

The Huddled Masses

From Common Sense American History eBook: The new immigration to America, which rose in importance from the 1880s until it was cut off by federal law in the 1920s, represented the second-largest period of immigration in the nation’s history—only surpassed by the period from 1965-present. More than 40 million people, mostly Europeans, came to the United States during this time. ... Read More

Black Codes

Read from Common Sense American History: American politics in the late 19th century reflected strong religious and ethnic, as well as regional, divisions. Americans remained an intensely religious people. Loyalty to one’s religion and church affected how many Americans voted. Much like the early 19th century, Americans experienced waves of religious revivals that swept urban and rural areas. The Republicans were ... Read More

“Go West, Young Man!”

From Common Sense American History: The Trans-Mississippi West plays a prominent role in American myths about the past. Cultural icons like the cowboy and Indian reflect those myths, with Hollywood movies and television shows depicting the individual farmer, rancher and cowboy contesting the forces of nature and the danger of Indian attacks on the frontier. In most cases, the cultural ... Read More

Exposing American Ingenuity

Read from Common Sense American History eBook: Visitors to the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition during the summer of 1876 could see numerous reminders of the previous century of American freedom, including copies of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. These documents were displayed with exhibits showing American and European contributions to science, agriculture and the arts. These exhibits expressed Americans' ... Read More

The Failure of Reconstruction

Read from Common Sense American History Reconstruction continued to lurch forward, but an exhausted nation began to focus on other problems facing the nation. Industry switched from military to civil production, and union veterans returned to their farms, businesses, and crafts. Some joined in building the transcontinental railroad to California, completed in 1869.  Immigration, which had stopped for the most part during ... Read More

Radical Republicans and Reconstruction

Read from Common Sense American History In 1867, the Reconstruction Act was passed over Johnson’s veto establishing five military districts in ten of the ex-Confederate states. Twenty-thousand federal troops, including a number of black units, occupied the South. Military rule replace conservative state governments previously recognized by Johnson. Congress demanded that for southern states to be admitted into the union, ... Read More

African Americans after the war

From Common Sense American History: With the collapse of the Confederacy in 1865, Union officers and slaveholders throughout the South informed blacks that slavery was dead.  Slavery’s end brought jubilation to blacks throughout the region. Many blacks, including former house servants, once thought by slaveholders as loyal, deserted plantations and farms in droves.  These freed slaves were called Freedmen at last. ... Read More

Lee’s Surrender

From Common Sense American History: Clearly defeated, Lee surrendered to Grant at the Appomattox Courthouse, eighty miles west of Richmond on April 2, 1865. The Civil War finally ended.  Lincoln sought to reconcile the two warring sides. He viewed the war as a tragedy caused by the sin of slavery. Having come into office relatively inexperienced, Lincoln proved to be ... Read More

Gettysburg

Read from Common Sense American History eBook: … Diplomacy abroad had prevented recognition of the Confederacy, but the Federal army made little progress in defeating Lee’s army in Virginia. In early May, General Hooker’s 130,000 federal troops advanced against Lee’s army of 60,000. The two armies confronted one another at Chancellorsville between Richmond and Washington. Lee sent General Stonewall Jackson … Read More

The Emancipation Proclamation

Read from Common Sense American History eBook: As the fighting [in the Civil War] turned bloody, without either side gaining the complete upper hand, Lincoln threatened to issue an order of emancipation of slaves. He hesitated to issue this order because he feared that critical Border States might align with the rebels. Finally, on Jan. 1, 1863 Lincoln issued the … Read More

Dred Scott

Read from Common Sense American History for Life eBook: The Supreme Court decided to address the slave question in the Dred Scott case. The case involved a Missouri slave, Dred Scott, whose owner had taken him into the federal territory north of Missouri, which was a free territory under the Missouri Compromise. After four years, Scott returned with his owner … Read More

Remember the Alamo

Read from Common Sense American History for Life eBook: … By the early 1830s, Mexican authorities became alarmed by the flood of Americans into Texas. Mexican officials in Texas began to harass Americans in the province about their thwarting of anti-slavery laws, customs duties and failure to convert to Catholicism, as the Austins had promised in the establishment of their … Read More

The Legacy of Slavery after the Revolution

Read from Common Sense American History: The revolutionary generation found slavery contradictory to their beliefs in liberty and equality. In 1776, people of African ancestry made up one-fifth of the total population of the United States. Of these, 90 percent were slaves. Slavery was found in every state. In New England, slaves were only 3 percent of the population, contrasted … Read More

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

A Methodist Camp Meeting Read from Common Sense American History: Many Americans believed that the future of this exceptional nation rested ultimately on a virtuous citizenry. Inspired by a religious revival of evangelical Protestantism that had swept across upstate New York through the Middle States into the South – the Second Great Awakening – reformers organized moral reform movements around … Read More

“A Man of the People”?

Read from Common Sense American History: The election of Andrew Jackson, a military hero, Tennessee slaveholder, Jeffersonian democrat, symbolized for his supporters and opponents a new age of politics. Jackson brought to national politics a new egalitarianism, reflecting the frontier west of the Appalachian Mountains. In this era, voting rights for all white males, frequent elections, term limits, and a … Read More

The Louisiana Purchase

Read from Common Sense American History: In 1803, Jefferson achieved the greatest success of his administration and one that would transform America: the Louisiana Purchase. In 1800, French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte acquired from Spain, New Orleans and a vast territory extending north to what is now North Dakota and west to parts of what is now New Mexico. New Orleans … Read More

The Sedition Act

Read from Common Sense American History: In 1798 … Congress passed the Sedition Act. … This loosely drawn act barred ‘malicious [hateful] writing” that attacked the reputation of any official. Federalists used this law to attack ten Jeffersonian newspaper editors who were fined or imprisoned. Most prominent was Matthew Lyon of Vermont who won election to Congress while imprisoned in … Read More

Mutual Assured Destruction

Watch: CSAH: The Cold War and a Cold War The Cold War and a Cold War from Certell on Vimeo. There is no doubt that madness plays a big role in the Game of Thrones. From the “Mad King” to Euron Greyjoy, Joffrey, and many others, there are plenty of people with loose screws floating about! Watch: CSAH: It’s Called … Read More

How to get a New York Strip

Read from Common Sense Economics: What Everyone Should Know about Wealth and Prosperity (St. Martin’s Press, 2016): In a modern economy, the cooperation that comes from self-interest directed by the invisible hand of market prices is truly amazing. The next time you sit down to a nice dinner, think about all the people who helped make it possible. It is … Read More

The Invisible Hand

From Common Sense Economics eBook: Self-interest is a powerful motivator. As Adam Smith noted long ago, when directed by the invisible hand, self-interested individuals will have a strong incentive to undertake actions that promote the general prosperity of a community or nation. The “invisible hand” to which Smith refers is the price system. The individual “intends only his own gain” but ... Read More

Valuable Stuff – not jobs – is what makes us all better off!

Production of goods and services people value, not just jobs, provides the source of high living standards. Read from Common Sense Economics: What Everyone Should Know about Wealth and Prosperity (St. Martin’s Press, 2016): … While employment is often used as a means to create wealth, we must remember that it is not simply more jobs that improve our economic … Read More

Business Failures

Profits direct businesses toward productive activities that increase the value of resources, while losses direct them away from wasteful activities that reduce resource value. Read from Common Sense Economics: What Everyone Should Know about Wealth and Prosperity (St. Martin’s Press, 2016): In a market economy, losses and business failures work constantly to bring inefficient activities – such as producing shirts … Read More

Creating Wealth…

People earn income by providing others with things they value. Read from Common Sense Economics: What Everyone Should Know about Wealth and Prosperity (St. Martin’s Press, 2016): People differ in many ways – in their productive abilities, preferences, specialized skills, attitudes, and willingness to take risk. These differences influence people’s incomes because they affect the value of the goods and … Read More

1.5 Transaction Costs

Common Sense Economics: What Everyone Needs to Know about Wealth and Prosperity People who help others arrange trades and make better choices reduce transaction costs and promote economic progress. Such specialists, sometimes called middlemen, include campus bookstores, real estate agents, stockbrokers, automobile dealers, and a wide variety of merchants. Many believe that middlemen merely increase the price of goods and ... Read More

Thank you – No, Thank You!

Common Sense Economics: What Everyone Needs to Know about Wealth and Prosperity The importance of trade in our modern world can hardly be exaggerated. Trade makes it possible for most of us to consume a bundle of goods and services far beyond what we would be able to produce for ourselves. Can you imagine the difficulty involved in producing your own ... Read More

If you do something good for me…

Read from Common Sense Economics: What Everyone Should Know about Wealth and Prosperity (St. Martin’s Press, 2016): The foundation of trade is mutual gain. People agree to an exchange because they expect it to improve their well-being. The motivation for trade is summed up in the statement: “If you do something good for me, I will do something good for … Read More

There Is No Such Thing as a Free Lunch (TINSTAAFL)

Read from Common Sense Economics: What Everyone Should Know about Wealth and Prosperity (St. Martin’s Press, 2016): Politicians, government officials, and lobbyists often speak of “free education,” “free medical care,” or “free housing.” This terminology is deceptive. These things are not free. Scarce resources are required to produce each of them and alternative uses exists. For example, the buildings, labor, … Read More

Just One More …

Common Sense Economics: What Everyone Needs to Know about Wealth and Prosperity Nearly all choices are made at the margin. That means that they almost always involve additions to (or subtractions from) current conditions, rather than “all-or-nothing” decisions. The word “additional” is a substitute for “marginal.” … For example, when there is a lot of pollution—so much, say, that we ... Read More

Decisions are made at the margin

Read from Common Sense Economics: What Everyone Should Know about Wealth and Prosperity (St. Martin’s Press, 2016): Watch: CSE: Thinking at the Margin CSE: Thinking At The Margin from Certell on Vimeo. 1. While watching the video, think about some decisions you make “at the margin”. For example, imagine your favorite food is pizza. On Sunday, your ordered five pizzas … Read More

TINSTAAFL

Common Sense Economics: What Everyone Needs to Know about Wealth and Prosperity The reality of life on our planet is that productive resources are limited, while the human desire for goods and services is virtually unlimited. Would you like to have some new clothes, a luxury boat, or a vacation in the Swiss Alps? How about more time for leisure, ... Read More

Where’d the Brick Go?

Common Sense Economics: What Everyone Needs to Know about Wealth and Prosperity In a market economy entrepreneurs are free to innovate. They need only the support of investors (often including themselves) willing to put up the necessary funds. The approval of central planners, a legislative majority, or business rivals is not required. Nonetheless, competition holds entrepreneurs and the investors who ... Read More

Incentives Matter: King-Sized Homer

Common Sense Economics: What Everyone Needs to Know about Wealth and Prosperity There’s no way to get around the importance of incentives. They are a part of human nature. … In the former Soviet Union, managers and employees of glass plants were at one time rewarded according to the tons of sheet glass they produced. Because their revenues depended on ... Read More

Incentives Matter

Read: from Common Sense Economics: What Everyone Should Know about Wealth and Prosperity (St. Martin’s Press, 2016): All of Economics rest on one simple principle: Changes in incentives influence human behavior in predictable ways. Both monetary and nonmonetary factors influence incentives. If something becomes more costly, people will be less likely to choose it. Correspondingly, when the benefits derived from an … Read More

The Productive Function of Government

From Common Sense Economics eBook: The second primary function of government, the productive function, involves the provision of activities that are difficult to provide through markets. There is both an indirect and direct component of this productive function. The indirect component involves the creation of an environment for the efficient operation of markets. As noted, a legal structure that protects ... Read More

Creating an Even Playing Field

From Common Sense Economics eBook: What Everyone Should Know about Wealth and Prosperity Governments play a vitally important economic role. Governments can promote social cooperation and enhance the welfare of the citizenry through the performance of two major functions: (1) the protective function that provides people with protection for their lives, liberties, and properties; and (2) the productive function that ... Read More

Do What You Do Best, and Trade for the Rest

From Common Sense Economics eBook: Many Americans believe that U.S. workers cannot compete with foreigners who sometimes make as little as $2 or $3 per day. This view is wrong and stems from a misunderstanding of both the source of high wages and the law of comparative advantage. Workers in the United States are well-educated, possess a high skill level, ... Read More

Minimum Wage

From: Common Sense Economics eBook: What Everyone Should Know about Wealth and Prosperity: Minimum wage rates are perhaps the most commonly imposed price control throughout the world. A minimum wage rate establishes a price floor that pushes the hourly wage of some workers (and jobs) above the market level. It is currently a hot topic in the United States. Several leaders ... Read More

Private Property

From Common Sense Economics: What Everyone Should Know about Wealth and Prosperity eBook: Well-defined and enforced property rights are crucial for the realization of gains from trade. Property is a broad term that includes ownership of labor services, as well as physical assets such as buildings and land. Private ownership of property involves three things: (1) the right to exclusive ... Read More

Secondary Effects

When considering economic policies, it is important to look not only in the intended effects, but also to anticipate the unintended ones if one is to evaluate the true costs and benefits of a program. From Common Sense Economics: What Everyone Should Know about Wealth and Prosperity eBook: Let’s consider a couple of examples that illustrate the potential importance of secondary ... Read More

The Job of the Entrepreneur

From Common Sense Economics eBook: What Everyone Should Know about Wealth and Prosperity: Investment and improvements in technology do not just happen. They reflect the actions of entrepreneurs, people who take risks in the hope of profit. No one knows what the next innovative breakthrough will be or just which production techniques will reduce costs. Furthermore, entrepreneurs are often found ... Read More

The Goal is Stuff – not just Jobs!

From Common Sense Economics eBook: What Everyone Should Know about Wealth and Prosperity: As Adam Smith noted some 240 years ago, consumption is the objective of all production. But, consumption comes before production only in the dictionary. Income and living standards cannot increase without an increase in the production of goods and services that people value. … Clearly, destroying commonly ... Read More

Adding Value

From Common Sense Economics eBook: What Everyone Should Know about Wealth and Prosperity In a market economy, people who earn high incomes do so because they provide others with things they value more than their cost. If these individuals did not provide valuable goods or services, consumers would not pay them so generously. There is a moral here: If you ... Read More

Help Yourself by Helping Others

Read from Common Sense Economics eBook: When you think of Steve Jobs, do you think of someone who was selfish? Greedy? Out to cheat you out of your hard-earned money by giving you a shoddy product? No, you think of a visionary designer, product engineer, and innovator. Yet he also became one of the wealthiest people on the planet. The ... Read More

Demand, Supply, and Adjustments to Dynamic Change

From Common Sense Economics, Supplement A eBook. The law of demand states that there is a negative relationship between the price of a good and the quantity purchased. It is merely a reflection of the basic postulate of economics: when an action becomes more costly, fewer people will choose it. An increase in the price of a product will make ... Read More

Low Tax Rates

Read from Common Sense Economics When high tax rates take a large share of income, the incentive to work and use resources productively declines. The marginal tax rate is particularly important. This is the share of additional income that is taxed away at any given income level. For example, in the United States in 2015, if a taxpayer with $60,000 in ... Read More

Monetary Stability

Read from Common Sense Economics Money is vitally important for the operation of an economy. Most importantly, money is a means of exchange. It reduces transaction costs because it provides a common denominator into which the value of all goods and services can be converted. Money also makes it possible for people to gain from complex exchanges with a time ... Read More

Allocating Capital

From Common Sense Economics: Allocating Capital Given the pace of change and the diversity of entrepreneurial talent, the knowledge required for sound decision-making about the allocation of capital is far beyond the scope of any single leader, industrial planning committee, or government agency. Without a private capital market, there is no mechanism that can be counted on to consistently channel ... Read More

Government Regulation and Competition

From Common Sense Economics: What Everyone Should Know about Wealth and Prosperity: As recently as 1970, fewer than 15 percent of Americans worked in jobs that required a license. Today, the figure is nearly 30 percent, and it is continuing to grow. In the mid-1980s, 800 occupations were licensed in at least one state; now, according to the Council ... Read More

The Importance of Competition to a Market Economy

Read from Common Sense Economics: What Everyone Should Know about Wealth and Prosperity (St. Martin’s Press, 2016): What keeps McDonald’s, Walmart, Amazon, General Motors, or any other business firm from raising prices, selling shoddy products, and providing lousy service? Competition provides the answer. If McDonald’s fails to provide a tasty sandwich at an attractive price delivered with a smile, people … Read More

A Fair Legal System

Read from Common Sense Economics: What Everyone Should Know about Wealth and Prosperity (St. Martin’s Press, 2016): The foundation for economic progress is a legal system that protects privately owned property and enforces contracts in an evenhanded manner. The legal system provides the foundation for the protection of property rights and enforcement of contracts. … trade moves goods toward people … Read More

Unseen Effects

Read from Common Sense Economics: What Everyone Should Know about Wealth and Prosperity (St. Martin’s Press, 2016):Trade restrictions between nations have important secondary effects. The proponents of tariffs and import quotas on foreign goods almost always ignore the secondary effects of their policies. Tariffs and quotas may initially protect the U.S. workers who make similar products at a higher cost. … Read More

The Invisible Hand

Read from Common Sense Economics: What Everyone Should Know about Wealth and Prosperity (St. Martin’s Press, 2016): Economic progress comes primarily through trade, investment, better ways of doing things and sound economic institutions. Investment and improvements in technology do not just happen. They reflect the actions of entrepreneurs, people who take risks in the hope of profit. No one knows … Read More

Prices bring the choices of buyers and sellers into balance

Read from Common Sense Economics: What Everyone Should Know about Wealth and Prosperity (St. Martin’s Press, 2016): Market prices will influence the choices of both buyers and sellers. When a rise in the price of a good makes it more expensive for buyers to purchase it, they will normally choose to buy fewer units. Thus, there is a negative relationship … Read More

Transaction Costs Are An Obstacle To Trade

Watch: CSE: Specializations and Trade CSE: Pawn Stars- “Best Of Bartering” from Certell on Vimeo. 1. The internet is doing an incredible job lowering transaction costs. Think of some examples of things that would have been really hard for you to get or do, without the internet. How have they lowered your transaction costs? 2. Reflecting on the video, why … Read More

St. Nicholas Lesson

December 6th marks the celebration of St. Nicholas Day worldwide. Saint Nicholas is the basis for the American Christmas character Santa Claus. The “jolly ol’ elf” we think of in America is built around the Clement Moore poem, “Twas the night before Christmas.” St. Nicholas was actually a Christian bishop from Turkey, who became the patron saint of children, sailors, archers, … Read More

Holiday Giving

For many Americans, the months of November and December are filled with holiday preparations. For many, that preparation involves buying and giving gifts. Have you ever received a gift from a friend or family member that you thought to yourself, “I will never be able to use this,” or “I hope they included the gift receipt”? Check out the engaging … Read More

Separation of Powers

Read from Common Sense Government eBook: Federalism and Separation of Powers Like federalism, the separation of powers principle was designed as a check on federal authority. But whereas federalism was a check from without in the form of the states, separation of powers is a check from within. The phrase most often associated with the separation of powers is “checks ... Read More

Federalism

Read from Common Sense Government: Federalism is the division of power between the states and the national government. The United States began with a system generally known as “dual federalism.” In short, the national government and state governments were understood to be equally powerful within their own proper spheres of activity. The national government was limited in a number of … Read More

Factions and Federalist #10

Common Sense Government eBook: The Constitution Federalist 10 is widely held to be a high water mark in American political thought, and this number gets to the heart of why the Framers gave us both a republic instead of a democracy, and a large republic instead of a small one. Following the analysis Publius offered in Federalist 9, we here ... Read More

The Constitutional Convention

Read from Common Sense Government: Did the Convention overstep its authority right from the first? The Constitution was not a revision of the Articles in any real sense, but revision of the Articles required unanimous consent. Given that Rhode Island did not even send delegates, there was a deep legal problem with the entire affair. Making matters worse, only 9 … Read More

The Great Compromise

Common Sense Government eBook: The Constitution … The Constitution enshrined neither the Virginia nor the New Jersey plans. Instead, in the Great, or Connecticut Compromise, elements from each were adopted for inclusion. The large states got some of what they wanted in the form of the House of Representatives, which is filled according to population. Large states are thus better ... Read More

Shays’ Rebellion

Common Sense Government eBook: The Articles of Confederation, Shays' Rebellion, and the Call for a Constitutional Convention Watch both: Shays' Rebellion was a localized event in Massachusetts, but the shock waves created by it reverberated throughout the states. The more insightful Americans at the time realized, quite quickly, that the events that played out in Shays' Rebellion could, and likely ... Read More

The Articles of Confederation

Read from Common Sense Government: The Articles of Confederation Watch: CSG: The Articles of Confederation in One Minute CSG: The Articles of Confederation in One Minute from Certell on Vimeo. 1. Imagine the Articles of Confederation was still the governing document of the “united States.” What would be different? 2. Much of Europe, today, is governed by a “confederation,” called … Read More

The Declaration of Independence

Read from Common Sense Government: The Declaration is, without question, one of the most important documents to emerge from the 18th century, and probably the whole of human history. The principles espoused within the Declaration have been used by virtually every revolutionary movement which has appeared on the world stage since. Consider that the French Revolution, the American civil rights … Read More

The Consent of the Governed: Lockean Ideals

Read from Common Sense Government: Watch: CSG: Monty Python and Pre-Revolution Locke Ideals CSG: Monty Python and Pre-Revolution Locke Ideals from Certell on Vimeo. 1. Imagine yourself back at the beginning of human society. What differentiated a ruler from a thug? If one or the other rode up on horseback and demanded obedience, how could you tell if he or … Read More

The Seven Years’ War

Common Sense Government: The Seven Years' War Things did not really heat up between the British and the colonists until 1763, at the culmination of the Seven Years’ War, which is also known as the French and Indian War. The causes of the war, while interesting, are not nearly as important as what happened in its wake. This event, more than ... Read More

The War on Terror

From Common Sense Government eBook: The Idea that the world was rapidly moving to a period of peace and liberal cooperation changed on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001 when America experienced the first attack on its continental homeland since the war of 1812. Two airplanes crashed into the twin towers of New York City’s World Trade Center, another into ... Read More

The End of History

From Common Sense Government eBook: With the collapse of the Soviet Union, international politics transitioned from a bipolar structure with two opposed superpowers to a unipolar world, with the United States as the only superpower. To many, this signaled a victory for American-style liberal democracy against alternative forms of governance. American political scientist Francis Fukuyama argued that it signaled an ... Read More

Who Declares War?

From Common Sense Government eBook: Foreign Policy and the Constitution The federal government’s role in foreign affairs was a hot topic at the Constitutional Convention in 1787. The Articles of Confederation left many questions of commerce and security to the states, enabling foreign powers to exploit the differences. At the time of the Convention, there were still many foreign troops ... Read More

Hands off or a Helping Hand?

From Common Sense Government eBook: America’s role in the world for the past two-and-a-half centuries has been determined by the complex processes of politics, public opinion, territorial expansion, trade, immigration, and an ongoing debate about what America is and what it should be. Is it an empire? Is it a peaceable democracy? Should it be a police force for the ... Read More

We are the Fourth Estate

From Common Sense Government eBook: The Internet and Democratization of the Media When Marshall McLuhan coined the phrase “Global Village” in the 1960s, he predicted an electronically interdependent world that would trend away from individualism and toward a new form of tribalism. People, he thought, would move toward homogeneous world-views because of the commonality of media available in real time. ... Read More

In Whose Interest?

From Common Sense Government eBook: Most people naturally assume that politicians act in the public interest as they construct and conduct public policy. They hold to a romantic view of politics that holds, ultimately, that human behavior in the political realm is somehow different, indeed better, than human behavior in almost every other realm. Politics, is, after all, the way ... Read More

Separate is not Equal

From Common Sense Government eBook: This campaign to end segregation, which involved a number of cases, came to a head with Brown v. Board of Education, when the Court finally and overtly decided against separate but equal formulations. Relying on the work of psychologists and sociologists, the Court concluded that the segregation of children in schools on the basis of ... Read More

The March on Washington

From Common Sense Government eBook: Civil liberties are protections for citizens against illegitimate encroachments on the part of the government. In many respects, the Constitution itself is a guarantee of civil liberties, because the Constitution creates a government of enumerated powers, which means that the government can only do the things that it is specifically empowered to do in that ... Read More

Marbury v. Madison

From Common Sense Government eBook: This case grew out of one of the great early political struggles in the young republic. Shortly after the ratification of the Constitution, two rival political parties emerged with widely different views of the Constitution and governmental power. The Federalists supported a strong national government, including the power of judicial review. The Anti-Federalists (an intellectual ... Read More

Power to Ya

From Common Sense Government eBook: Compared to Article One, the description of the President is vague and general. The President is commander in chief of the armed forces, which is significant. He is also tasked with executing the laws that Congress writes. Apart from those matters, though, the rest of the list reads like a job description for a sort ... Read More

Who Decides? Who Cares?

Read from Common Sense Government eBook: The Constitution, as originally written, created a complicated system of controls to prevent the consolidation of power in any one person, or institution. One reason for this is that the framers were trying to balance two concerns: how to create a government for a free society without having a monarch, on the one hand, ... Read More

A Common Sense Government

Image Source: Indiana University Library Archives From Common Sense Government: As a revolutionary agitator, Thomas Paine was in a class by himself. Whereas Samuel Adams was a career politician, Paine was a career agitator.  He came to America just in time to foment revolution with the publication of Common Sense.  As soon as the American War for Independence was finished, ... Read More

The End of History

Read from Common Sense Government The presidencies of George H.W. Bush from 1989 to 1993 and Bill Clinton from 1993 to 2001 were marked by increased international economic integration and a few brief military engagements. Both presidents worked to negotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, which was signed during the Clinton administration and greatly increased trade between the three signatories: ... Read More

Tear Down This Wall

Read from Common Sense Government Ronald Reagan, the final president of the Cold War era, ended the period of détente by increasing military spending and undertaking a rhetorical campaign against the Soviet Union specifically, and communism generally. Reagan revived the language of American exceptionalism, calling the Soviet Union an “evil empire.” He also returned to the containment policies of the ... Read More

Radio Waves

From Common Sense Government: After the commercialization of the radio, people no longer had to wait for the publication of a newspaper. Radio broadcast news was running hours before daily papers could be printed and distributed. With broadcast media available seemingly at a moment’s notice, politicians suddenly had a new means for reaching the public. The first half of the 20th ... Read More

Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink!

Bureaucratic inertia describes the tendency of administrative institutions to complicate their operations at the expense of accomplishing their original goals. The more complicated procedural frameworks become, the more time it will take to negotiate those procedures, which in turn means it will be more difficult for the bureaucracy to achieve the ends it was designed to pursue in the first ... Read More

Flying High

Read from Common Sense Government eBook: Cyril Northcote Parkinson opened a Nov. 1955 article in The Economist with a simple formulation. “It is a commonplace observation,” he wrote, “that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” He applied this concept to politics, arguing that the rise in the number of bureaucrats didn’t actually reflect the … Read More

How Are You Free?

Read from Common Sense Government eBook: The power of America’s current bureaucracy is evident in its role in shaping and carrying out legislative acts. Experts argue that American legislation is the result of an “Iron Triangle” of competition and cooperation between special interests, bureaucrats, and elected officials. Bureaucrats cultivate relationships with special interest groups like the American Farm Bureau Federation … Read More

Who’s the boss?

Read from Common Sense Government for Life eBook: The central domestic issue during the first decades of the 20th century concerned regulation of the economy. While Republicans continued to push the development of national infrastructure, Democrats took on a populist approach, which defended the common man in the face of large corporate trusts. They were decidedly anti-monopoly and pro-labor union, … Read More

Taking Liberties

Read from Common Sense Government for Life eBook: The civil liberties of American citizens, as guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, are illustrated by a series of statements regarding what government may not do. In the First Amendment, for example, there are protections of free speech, free exercise of religion, peaceable assembly and the free press, among others. These protections, … Read More

Nothing to fear…

Read from Common Sense Government: In the aftermath of the stock market crash of 1929 and subsequent economic collapse, the American people elected Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1932, an election which began a period of marginalization for the Republican Party that would last, in one way or another, for decades. Democrats would win seven of the nine presidential elections beginning … Read More

Who’s in Charge?

Read from Common Sense Government: … Abraham Lincoln represents the high water mark of the presidency in the 19th century. Although there is much debate surrounding Abraham Lincoln and his wartime actions, Lincoln nonetheless understood the institutional design of the Framers. He embodied the “energetic executive” discussed by Publius in Federalist 70 and was concerned chiefly with maintaining the constitutional … Read More

To be efficient or not to be efficient…

Read from Common Sense Government: Publius clearly thought that a system which could divide power as much as possible while still maintaining the ability to govern would be the safest option. The power surrendered by the people is first divided into two governments in the federalist scheme. After that, it is further divided among the competing branches of the federal … Read More

Who guards the guardians?

Read from Common Sense Government: The powers of Congress are outlined in Article One of the United States Constitution. The Founders defined the powers of Congress in the first article of the Constitution because it was Congress, in a representative republic, which would logically wield the most power. As the most powerful branch in the government, Congress commands both fear … Read More

Strange Bedfellows

Watch: CSG: Alliances Alliances from Certell on Vimeo. People group together for a variety of reasons, voluntary, and involuntary. You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family. For the most part, we like, and are like those we choose to associate with as friends. Allies are a different story. We enter into alliances for a variety of … Read More

Kingslayer

Watch: CSG: Kingslayer Kingslayer from Certell on Vimeo. Jaime Lannister is known as the Kingslayer because he killed the Mad King, Aerys II Targaryen. He broke his oath to do so, because, well, the King had gone mad, and someone needed to do something! The problem of what to do when the king goes mad is as old as history. … Read More

Checks and Balances

Read: One of the great achievements of the past few hundred years has been the establishment of widely agreed standards for how we treat each other individually, collectively, and during times of conflict. St. Bartholomew, from the Martyr’s Mirror For most of history, however, those in power could do pretty much what they pleased, and human life and dignity were … Read More

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