The Reagan Speech Preservation Society

The Principles Applied—Alternatives to Political Force

Modified: Tuesday, 20 July 2021 21:54 by admin - Categorized as: Podcasts
The following is a collection of the materials used in creating the thirtieth episode of the Citizen Reagan podcast about the Reagan's Radio Commentaries.

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This is the Citizen Reagan podcast and I need to get in the habit of doing a few things with every episode, like asking you to rate and review the podcast with whatever services you use. Like asking you to share us with your friends, you family, complete strangers and your worst enemies, I don’t care really, just as long as you share it. Like telling you that you can find past episodes, transcripts, research and more on a wiki on my webspace. The address for the wiki is but you can also just visit, I have a variety of other projects there. I sell digitally restored books, magazines and pamphlets. I have constructed an archive of old pulp short stories. I accept donations through Ko-fi, if you're willing help out. It's all there on the website. Now, with that out of the way, let's get to Reagan.

R.W. Grant is going to start offering some solutions as I continue our look at "The Incredible Bread Machine." This is part 4 of the book, The Principles Applied—Alternatives to Political Force, and the first topic addressed is an "Escape from Public Education."

Who is in control of public education? Is it at the local level, where you, as a voter, elect the members of your school board, who then go to make decisions? Perhaps the state level, where curriculum is handled? They may have some influence, but is there someone larger, more powerful, with more money out there pulling the strings?

A story from LA leads off the chapter. After watching report cards and spelling bees get eliminated because of "emotional tension," 3 school board members sought to shift education back to some semblance of sanity. They were roundly attacked by the California Teachers Association and LA district Faculty Association and accused the 3 of violating the rights of the teachers. The 3 board members would be ousted in a recall election.

At the Federal level, it seems to be the thought-process that they are in charge. A 1965 quote from Office of Education official Carrol Hanson includes the line: "The tradition of local control should no longer be permitted to inhibit the Office of Education leadership."

The implication: the unions and the Federal government are in charge, not the local level, not you the parent. Can there be reform? Maybe. The idea of vouchers or a tax credit would provide incentives for families to move their children to private schools of one kind or another without the accompanying financial burden, but many levels of government fight tooth and nail against these plans. Can we end the public school system completely? Perhaps, but there are many questions associated with this too. What would happen to those who can't afford school, even with the vouchers or tax credits? To get answers to this and other questions looking forward to this possibility, it may be best to look back to an earlier age, before government got so entrenched, to the origins of mass education.

The first successful attempts at mass education came from private individuals. In 1798 London, Joseph Lancaster opened a school to the poorest of the poor and he was able to get them to learn. People were amazed. He grew the school and kept needing larger and larger buildings to accommodate the students. He'd found a way to educate a thousand students at a time, an amazing number for the time. How? Grant does not break down the process, but I will. I saw two specific concepts in use.

The first Lancaster called "monitors" we might view today as peer tutors. Lancaster himself would select a number of older students and teach them fundamentals. Once one had become proficient in a subject, they became a monitor and it would become their responsibility to teach that subject to a group of younger children. The second item I found is less apparent in the text. There were no grade levels based on student age. Students were promoted to more advanced subjects when they mastered what they were presently being taught. Think about it this way: If your child has great math skills, but bad language skills, instead of being in 5th grade with the rest of the 10-year-olds, they might be in a math class with 14-year-olds, but a language class with 8-year-olds. They can get the help they need in one subject, while not being bored by concepts they already understand in another.

Lancaster was wildly successful, so much so that by 1805, 7 years after starting the school, he was granted an audience with King George III. His fame and methods spread and were equally successful in the United States. But someone was feeling left out... government. Before I get to government, though, it is worth noting what I learned via external research. Lancaster's school faced opposition from the church, as Lancaster didn't teach the approved ideas of Christianity in England. There would also be concerns over punishment of students and other standards in place.

Government wanted the right to inspect these private schools and they were rebuffed for a long time, until, in 1833, the British Parliament had the idea to offer financial assistance and many schools accepted the help, but the cost of doing so was government control and inspection. It was the foot in the door. In 1870, the first government run "board schools" were established in England, bought and paid for by taxes. They were intended to "fill-the-gaps" in private school education. Private schools, paid for by some combination of donations and tuition, had trouble competing with the bottomless pockets of the taxpayer-backed government schools. As taxes rose, there was less money for those donations and tuition and students were shunted into the government schools.

In the United States, state involvement started earlier, but was more limited. Typically, that meant government offering financial aid to private schools. No word in the book if that included the same levels of control early on. The progression of events, though, was similar. After private school aid came the establishment of public schools supported by tax dollars, then the decline of the private schools.

There was little to prevent Lancaster's monitoring system from being used in public schools, except the teachers, who felt threatened. They, who had gone through years of education specifically to be teachers, did not appreciate being reduced to supervisors of the student monitors. The system fell out of favor. In New York state, it was actually banned.

In spite of everything operating against them, 13% of the school age population attends non-public schools. At this point in our history, an argument for public schools is that they educate the poor, but do they? Reagan would speak numerous times about the state of education in his present of the 1970s. Students were graduating from high school being conned into thinking they'd received an education and be met with a rude awakening when they arrived at college. Perhaps the poor need something else, besides the public system, to help pull them out of the situation they're in. Where is this happening? Grant decides to discuss inner city, non-public schools, focusing on data from Los Angeles. Christian-based schools show themselves to be quite important, with tens of thousands of students attending schools of various denominations, and significant percentages of the students being minorities. There are plenty of non-church schools too. Some more exclusive than others, yes, but the students learn and excel. We learn the story of Marva Collins, a former 14-year veteran of the Chicago schools, took $5000 of her own retirement to start her own school, the Westside Preparatory School in 1975. She didn't need fancy toys or gimmicks, she just taught the basics and the classics.

Another option of escaping the system of political force is homeschooling, something that many parents have likely spent the last year thinking much more about. Public school advocates argue that homeschooled children will lack social skills and will have a harder time integrating into society. Well, maybe that's a good thing. We could use more independent thinkers. Perhaps, through public school, government seeks to turn you into a socio-economic cog for a machine, but that's not who we are supposed to be and that's not the way our country thrives.

Some have fought to protect public schools from homeschooling, but the courts have stepped in. A Massachusetts couple fought to keep their 8-year old out of the schools, who argued, backed by state law, that "educational alternatives be the equivalent of public education." A judge found in the couple's favor. Likewise, a Kentucky law was struck down which argued that equivalency required a teacher have state certification. Michigan as well. Homeschooling became legal in all 50 states in 1993.

Materials abound that will allow for the education of children. Back then, at the time the book was written, it was videotape and computer CD-ROMs that might allow a parent to offer any educational opportunity a school could. Today, it's the Internet, though, obviously one must be careful about the sources. Remember, Abraham Lincoln famously said, "You can't believe everything you read on the Internet."

Concluding the chapter, Grant emphasizes that the government is not the answer. Market forces which have their own way of sifting through good and bad products or services are not allowed to work, resulting in bad methods being allowed to perpetuate. Our children end up taking the biggest hit. Not a good idea, considering they are our future.

The next topic is the postal monopoly. The first 6 pages of the chapter discuss the history of private vs public mail delivery in England. James the First's use of the Royal Post as a surveillance tool, Dockwra's Penny Post, the Boy Messenger Service, black market mail delivery, sometimes with deliveries by the government's own mail carriers, compromises made, compromises broken, it was all a mess. In 2011, Royal Post shifted from a government-owned corporation to a private, though publicly traded, corporation.

In the United States, mail was privately handled initially. In the 1650s, the Dutch put restrictions on the trans-Atlantic mail, limiting who may carry it. Private messengers were common. Just as was done in England, the colonies saw the establishment of their own Royal Post and the crown attempted to squelch private competition. As one might expect, this service was ended with the beginning of the Revolution, to be replaced by the US Post Office, with Benjamin Franklin as the first Postmaster General. It was inefficient, but it took until the Jackson administration to become corrupt. Private companies were not suppressed the same way as they were in England. In 1843, there were 20 different mail carrying companies... in Boston alone. One of the more notable companies in the country was the American Letter Mail Company, organized by Lysander Spooner. Providing a superior service for a lower price embarrassed the government and in response they did what they do best, pass laws. In 1845, Congress passed a law to penalize private carriers. Spooner would try to fight back for 7 months, but ultimately failed. Further control over postal services would come in 1851 when it was declared that all streets, lanes and avenues in Boston, New York and Philadelphia were post roads, giving the Federal government full power to prosecute any private carriers. This put most of the private companies out of business.

Over the years, companies have tried to find ways around the postal monopoly. A&P Grocery in the 1930s. CF&I Steel in Denver in the 1960s. Public Service Company, also of Colorado. They all setup private courier systems within their own companies which was later deemed illegal when the post office found out. They were heavily fined (often to the amount they would have paid had they used the post office in the first place). The Independent Postal Services of America founded to deliver 2nd, 3rd and 4th class mail. This too was attacked, even though it was not infringing on the 1st class mail monopoly.

In 1968, the government-run Post Office was transformed into the government-owned Postal Service company. In theory, it would eventually stand on its own and require no funding from taxes. Ha. That's a good one.

In 1999, though, Grant wonders if time is running out. Faxing, email, electronic money transfers, all things that used to go through the mail can be handled in other ways. I'm sad to say that now, over 20 years later, like a Monty Python plague victim, it's not dead yet, even if it should be. Let the free market handle the job, they did once, they can do it now.

The next chapter is definitely an interesting concept, if not controversial. It's an alternative to municipal government called the proprietary community. Instead of distributed ownership of a city by its occupants, i.e. the property owners, ownership is by a managing group. For comparison, think of a shopping center. None of the shops actually own their retail spaces, they're just renting. All the duties that would be performed through city hall would be performed by this management group. A mall provides security, just as police do. There's trash collection, parking lots in this case and pedestrian walkways are comparable to maintenance like your city roads. Grant talks about Century City, a private development in the heart of Los Angeles. It operates much like a city within a city, but without a city hall, bureaucracy or corrupt political machine. He also talks about Disney World, which actually holds a municipal charter from the state of Florida which leaves them exempt from local taxes, zoning laws, building codes, and more. This freed them to develop many things from the ground up, without government interference.

But, that's the real goal of many politicians, particularly on the left, isn't it? They want to interfere. They think they know better than you.

Another story shared by Grant is the transformation of Bryant Park in the heart of New York City by a private corporation, which took significant convincing of the Parks Department to even begin the restoration process. While the city owned the land, the Bryant Park Restoration Corporation was able to get a 15-year lease for their work. An area that spent decades as a haven for drug dealers, gangs and the homeless was rebuilt and reopened in 1992. It now attracts hundreds of special events every year, including, from 1993 to 2010, the New York Fashion Week.

But a success here or there does little to convince government at any level that private concerns are better at the work than those of the public.

This chapter on proprietary communities is certainly a unique idea and one which I personally had never considered, but I am intrigued by it. I wouldn't mind seeing someone or some group give it a go someplace... an Experimental Prototype City Of Tomorrow.

And if that name only sounds familiar, you must recognize it's shortened name: EPCOT. Walt Disney's original plan for EPCOT was not a theme park, it was an actual city, housing up to 20,000 people. They would all be employed by Disney, some in the city, some at the nearby Magic Kingdom. Some of the things seen in other Disney properties, like the Monorail and PeopleMover were to be used in this city. With Disney's death in 1966, the proposal was scrapped. It wasn't until the late 1970s that the plans were revisited. Card Walker, Disney CEO at the time, was forced to compromise with the Disney board of directors on the theme park we have now.

The remaining two chapters deal with similar topics that I, for one, am not sure I would want in private hands. Maybe it's just a Constitutional view on my part. The first chapter concerns the privatization of protection, justice, police and fire. The second chapter is defense, i.e. the military. But Grant certainly makes a person think.

Grant begins by speaking of justice as retribution. Over the history of the United States, justice or retribution has evolved from a private affair to a public one. As society develops, The privately handled vigilantism transitions into the organization of the state courtroom. With plays or movies like The Ox-Bow Incident or Death Wish, vigilantism has gotten a bad wrap and thus that power lies in the hands of government. But, one wonders, is it that much better or safer for the individual? William DePalma, in 1968, was convicted of robbing a bank despite having 15 witnesses testify to his alibi. He served 2 and a half years before it was found that the evidence, a set of fingerprints from the scene, had been forged by a member of the police force. Grant Snowden lost 14 years of freedom because a testifying expert represented to the jury as a psychologist was not one. Ken Eto, after a night of gambling with a Cook county mob boss, was shot three times in the head, and lived to talk about it and revealed his assassin to be a deputy sheriff.

What is being built up through these several pages is that the public system of justice may have just as many flaws as the private retribution of vigilantes, but far less accountability. If someone makes a mistake, once you track down a vigilante, you've got your villain. If a mistake is made at the public level, there are so many people involved it's difficult to determine fault.

Perhaps the trouble lies in that we shouldn't be seeking retribution. Seeking justice for wrongdoings is little more than reciprocity... an eye for an eye. Wouldn't it be better for society if the wrongdoing never occurred in the first place? No retribution would then be necessary. The word Grant uses is protection. It would be, in his view, "far better to divert the vast sums squandered in its (meaning retribution) support to that which people really want and need: not retribution after harm has been done, but protection to prevent harm from occurring to begin with." Trouble is, the state is stuck on retribution, so it's up to the private individual to look for protection elsewhere. Most uniformed police work for private companies, 2 out of 3 at the time the book was written and it was a $20 billion industry. Their focus, through technology, is deterring crime in the first place simply by being there, and if they fail somehow, they can be fired, not something you can do with your local police force if they become incompetent or corrupt.

The easiest means of protection, however, is for one to own a gun. Grant spend little time discussing the pros and cons of gun ownership or gun control arguments. He simply states, "If someone weighs the risks and chooses to own a gun, that's his (or her) decision. In a free society this choice should not be infringed upon."

Grant concedes, however, that some level of public justice is necessary for those times when protection efforts fail, but it must de-emphasize retribution.

Concerning fire protection, the section leads off with a visit to Scottsdale, Arizona where a company named Rural/Metro has been operating a private fire department for decades. By the way, the company ended its contract with Scottsdale in 2005. As Rural/Metro tried to expand, it found significant resistance, particularly in the union-heavy Northeast. Contracting with the town of Rye Brook New York, they found heavy resistance from neighboring Port Chester, with which Rye Brook had originally been contracted. Employees were threatened into resigning. Bottles were thrown at trucks and, in the event of a major fire that required help from neighboring communities, they were ignored. Things came to a head when a million dollar home burned to the ground under those conditions. The Port Chester fire chief acknowledged he was told by city officials to ignore the calls. The contract between Rye Brook and Rural/Metro was terminated by mutual agreement.

That wraps up the chapter on protection, leaving us to tackle the idea of privatizing defense.

Can private individuals have success against a state-run military? Absolutely. Want me to run down a list from the book? Without a king, the Hebrew tribes fought their way into Israel after leaving Egypt. The Peloponnesian League of Greek city-states defeated the mighty Persian Empire in 300, I mean, 479 B.C. The guerilla fighters of Afghanistan pushed out the Soviet Union.,_1885-1900/Philipot,_John_(d.1384)John Philipot's private fleet defeated a combined Spanish, Scottish and French fleet that had been attacking and capturing British ships during the 100 Years' War. Sir Francis Drake destroyed the vaunted Spanish Armada in 1587. The United States, during the Revolution, had no navy and relied entirely on privateers to harass the British, often in their own territorial waters.

On a smaller scale, sometimes governments do not want to get involved and private interests must step in. One of the powerful images of 1979 was of helicopters burning in the desert, President Jimmy Carter's failed rescue mission after the Iranian Revolution. But Ross Perot was able to get his employees out with a private team.

Government-run militaries suffer from one thing: politics. People in power with aspirations can be exceedingly dangerous. Teddy Roosevelt, then Secretary of the Navy, promoted the idea of war with Spain over Cuba. Albert Beveridge, Indiana Senator, was an American Imperialist and made very open statements about it. There's a lengthy paragraph quoting him in the book, but I think the last sentence is the key to it: "He (meaning God) has made us the master organizers of this world to establish system where chaos reigns. This is the divine mission of America."

Is that a good, a moral, a principled way of operating an American military, one meant for defense?

So, how would a private defense system work? Who would run it? Grant isn't sure, but offers one possible place to look: it would be a consortium of insurance companies. Some insurance companies already operate their own private fire departments as a way of protecting their policy holders. Strange he didn't mention this in the last chapter. But insurance companies could, if a threat existed, offer war damage insurance. It would then be in their best interests to protect those with policies. Such a change, regardless of the source, is not going to happen overnight. Every business has the potential to defend its own interests, it's just a matter of each of them mobilizing to do it.

Finally, Grant talks about multi-national corporations and the effect they can have on a world full of strife. Think about it this way, and these are my words, not from the book: Do you know every person that contributed to the creation of what you buy? Of course not. You may hate them if you met them, but that impersonal marketplace allows you to cooperate and trade peacefully. Isn't that what we really should be striving for?

A lot of ideas to absorb here. Some I agree with, some I don't and some that I could go either way on.

Part 5 will be short and asks, "What now?"

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