Public School “Educations” Now Qualify as Child Abuse

By Bradley Harrington

“When applied to conceptual material, memorizing is the psycho-epistemological destroyer of understanding and of the ability to think. But throughout their grade and high-school years, memorizing becomes the students’ dominant (and, in some case, virtually excusive) method of mental functioning.” — Ayn Rand, “The Comprachicos,” 1970 —

WTE3 Column #91 Illustration -- Conformity HazardNow that we’ve had an opportunity to consider the intellectual foundations at the root of our taxpayer-supported public schools — as well as the “social adjustments” both Mann and Dewey sought to obtain through them — let’s consider the impact such “progressive” educational policies have had on the minds of our youth.

And, of all of them, the worst by far was the introduction of Dewey’s “Look-Say” methodology throughout the 1930s and 1940s.

The English language is not pictorial in nature, as is Chinese, but that’s exactly how the “Look-Say” method demands words be taught: Not as an integrated unit of one or more phonetic sounds, but as “whole words” to be considered strictly as primary and irreducible absolutes.

Since such methods violate the nature of the English language right at its core, however, it didn’t take long for “Look-Say” to decimate the nation’s reading abilities as well, to the point that by 1955, Rudolph Flesch’s “Why Johnny Can’t Read” became a runaway bestseller.

Ignorant of the facts, however, “Look-Say” teachings continued to thrive … And, by 1983, things had degraded so badly that the National Commission on Excellence in Education was reporting on the “tide of mediocrity” engulfing our schools, and had this comment to add as well: “For the first time in the history of our country, the educational skills of one generation will not surpass, will not equal, will not even approach those of their parents.” (“A Nation at Risk.”)

Remember, as you read this, the critical role that being able to read plays in the educational process, by virtue of its ability to transmit future information. Take away that ability and that entire world is walled away forever.

The greatest threats such reading “instructional” methods pose, however, are primarily epistemological in nature. Since language, itself, is a code of visual-auditory symbols designed to translate concepts into concretes, damages and attacks to conceptual systems seriously interfere with the thinking process itself, thereby impairing the student’s ability to function on a conceptual level (which his or her nature as a functional human being demands).

Thus, turned adrift intellectually and stripped of the ability to self-regulate his or her own learning actions on top of that, what happens to the individual thoughts of our boys and girls? Turned into mush, pretty much, replaced by the current crop of propaganda as dictated by those in power. The “social adjustment” is now complete, for the ability of such students to personally process reality outside of the dictates of the wider society around them has been all but eliminated.

It is by means of such “instructional” processes, Dear Readers, that we foster and encourage “herd” behavior in our children — after all, aren’t we TEACHING that the pack is the source of all morality and intellectuality?

Why are we now surprised, therefore, when our kids abandon their minds and turn to dope, guns and gangs instead? Once the principles of the mind are abandoned, what else could we possibly expect to have happen, but mindlessness?

And wider: Since “education” is the training of a human mind to be able to understand and function in reality, to have the very institutions charged with that task become the purveyors of irrationality and concept-destruction instead, is the worst of all possible inversions. It attacks individual thought itself (which is exactly what it was designed to do).

The state of our “public” schools, which “progressive” teaching methods have turned into literal battlegrounds, has now dropped to the point where attendance in such schools qualifies as actual child abuse. We protect our children’s bodies with “school zone” signs … While we rot their minds with “teaching” methods fit for aborigines?

Parents, would you leap in front of your child’s body to prevent them from being run over by a school bus? How about leaping in front of most of Dick or Jane’s teachers, instead? Or, better yet, how about jerking your kids out of such environments while they still have their brains intact?

Since government takes the money for such “schooling” from us by force, however, whether we want to use their educational “services” or not, establishing a school voucher system would be the primary first step needed to break that monopoly.

And not much more, actually — for, once people are actually free to spend their educational dollars as they choose, the market itself will flush out all the rest.

Bradley Harrington is a computer technician and a writer who lives in Cheyenne. Email:

NOTE: This column was originally published in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle on April 1, 2018. Here is this column’s original downloadable PDF file.

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School Indoctrination: From the Acorns Grow the Trees

By Bradley Harrington

“The new education must consist essentially in this, that it completely destroys freedom of will … If you want to influence him [the student] at all, you must do more than merely talk to him; you must fashion him, and fashion him in such a way that he simply cannot will otherwise than you wish him to will.” — Johann Gottlieb Fichte, “Second Address to the German Nation,” 1807 —

WTE3 Column #90 Illustration -- More School BrainwashingLast week we examined the manner in which the “public” schools, owned and manipulated by government, have become hotbeds of collectivist indoctrination (“Self-realization takes a back seat to school indoctrination,” WTE, March 18), and we examined just a few of those “ideas” and how they’ve been smuggled into our so-called “educational” process.

This week, let’s ask ourselves: How did all of this come to be?

While “public” schools have existed in the United States since long before the Revolutionary War, our educational system, in the modern sense of the term, is generally credited to the work of Horace Mann.

Mann, an educational reformer out of Massachusetts in the early 19th century, argued that “universal public education was the best way to turn the nation’s unruly children into disciplined, judicious republican citizens” (“Horace Mann,”, and he sought to transform the educational system of Massachusetts into such a model.

With that goal in mind Mr. Mann, in 1843, toured all of Western Europe in his search for such an “educational” system, and concluded that the Prussian model of education was the one to establish here in the United States. He founded such a system in Massachusetts shortly thereafter (1852), and it didn’t take long for it to spread throughout the entire country.

What, in turn, were the principles of this Prussian model? “The purpose of the system was to instill loyalty to the Crown and to train young men for the military and bureaucracy,” according to that same article — and the quote at the top of this column comes from the philosopher most responsible for the establishment of that system in Prussia shortly thereafter.

The Prussian model of education, in other words, was developed to inculcate obedience and servitude, pure and simple, and it was for precisely these reasons that Mr. Mann established such a system here.

Nor was Mann the only “educator” to have that kind of impact on the foundations of our “modern” system — nor even the one that had the most. That “honor,” in the beginnings of the 20th century, is reserved for the efforts and viewpoints of another highly-influential “educator,” John Dewey himself.

And Dewey’s thoughts? “School,” said Dewey, “is primarily a social institution … I believe, therefore, that the true center of correlation of the school subjects is not science, nor literature, nor history, nor geography, but the child’s own social activities.” (“My Pedagogic Creed,” 1897.)

It is Dewey, philosophical “pragmatist” and the leading proponent of the “progressive” theory of education, who was the intellectual father of our educational system as it exists today. It was with thanks to Dewey that our schools began the shift away from “abstract” knowledge to “relevant” knowledge instead — and it was Dewey who, in synch with Mann’s original footsteps, also preached that the task of the schools was not to merely transmit information but to “socially adjust” students as well.

To “adjust” students to WHAT? To their existence as part of a greater collective. What kind of a collective? Well, this is what Dewey had to say about the Soviet collective back in 1929: “… The marvelous development of progressive educational ideas and practices under the fostering care of the Bolshevist government …” (“Impressions of Soviet Russia and the Revolutionary World,” 1929.)

And, in that same book, try this on for size, as Dewey gushes that “you can’t make socialists out of individualists. Children who know how to think for themselves spoil the harmony of the collective society, which is coming, where everyone is interdependent.”

THIS from the main intellectual founder of our “public” schools. Remember, also, that the Russian Bolsheviks of the “Soviet Revolutionary World” were radical Marxist communists.

So, Dear Readers, having now taken a short survey of the principles underlying our “public” schools, we are now in a position to answer the question of, “How did our schools become hotbeds of collectivist indoctrination”?

They were established that way right out of the gate, with exactly those purposes in mind, as stated clearly and succinctly by all the “thinkers” involved. From the acorns grow the trees — and this forest merits nothing more than to be chopped right down to the ground, roots, branches, acorns and all.

Bradley Harrington is a computer technician and a writer who lives in Cheyenne. Email:

NOTE: This column was originally published in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle on March 25, 2018. Here is this column’s original downloadable PDF file.

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Self-Realization Takes a Back Seat to School Indoctrination

By Bradley Harrington

“Liberty is not collective, it is personal. All liberty is individual liberty.” — Calvin Coolidge, “Holy Name Society Address,” 1924 —

WTE3 Column #89 Illustration -- School BrainwashingLast week, in an open letter to a local student, I defined “individual liberty” as our “right to our own thoughts and lives, as well as the right to free association” (“5th-grader’s  dreams trigger avalanche of ideas, emotions,” WTE, March 11).

What I DIDN’T tell that young lady, however, because it’s a message best passed along to the adults, is that the school system’s ability to teach these ideas disappeared decades ago, thereby leaving students such as her helpless in the face of what’s replaced it instead.

“Ideas,” if you want to call them that, such as these, for instance:

“With respect to the United States, students learn the unique features of American representative democracy, the constitutional separation of powers, and the rule of law.” (“Grade 9 Civics Syllabus,” Delaware Department of Education.)

And the problem with that statement, which I’m sure most of us won’t even catch or detect? Just one short phrase — “representative democracy.”

Sorry, but the United States was founded as a REPUBLIC, not a “democracy.” Indeed, since we’re speaking of studying the Constitution, here’s what the “Father of the Constitution,” James Madison, had to say about such systems:

“Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.” (“The Federalist No. 10,” 1787.)

No, the Founders, with very few exceptions, were extremely distrustful of “democracy,” as it was correctly perceived that it contained no mechanism to prevent the abolition of the rights of  the minority by an impassioned majority.

But observe what such obfuscations make possible, just a few sentences later:

“Possible reasons for studying civics that teachers will want to explore with students include … teaching students in a democracy how to govern themselves.”

Really? WHAT kind of “self-governance” is possible in a social system where the majority can wipe out the rights of the minority any time it pleases, simply by casting a vote?

And the purpose of such a “civics” course? According to the Delaware Department of Education’s syllabus, that would be: “Understanding how and why governments are structured as they are equips citizens with the ability to navigate their government as they strive to contribute to the public good and seek solutions to public policy problems.”

Observe the tacit and unstated assumption that the purpose of all of our lives is not personal happiness and achievement, but contributions to the “public good” and work on “public policy problems” instead. An authoritarian premise if there ever was one, as it places society ahead of the individual — whereas the great fact of the American political system is that it held the INDIVIDUAL as supreme, with the existence of “society” as a mere means to those ends.

And all of that, simply by changing one word to another … And it’s exactly by means of such intellectual “package-deals” that the minds of our youth are poisoned, most likely for good, by the multitude of collectivist assumptions that have been smuggled into their so-called “educations.”

Now, does this mean that the curricula of EVERY school in the country suffers from such horrible manipulations? Of course not; I’m sure there’s still a few schools, somewhere, that have yet to have their curricula so corrupted. And I’m also quite sure that there’s still a good number of teachers out there that don’t swallow such propaganda.

Can there be any doubt in anyone’s mind, however, that such alternative approaches are now the exception and not the rule? As proof, I offer the goings-on of the campuses of 95 percent of the high schools, colleges and universities in the country.

Nor is this phenomenon of “educational” indoctrination anything other than what we should expect, since history makes it clear — for anyone interested in actually studying it — that collectivist regimes have always used the schools as a means of promoting lies conducive to the demands of those in power.

There’s a reason why Karl Marx made “Free education for all children in public schools” his Tenth Plank, after all, and here you have it. Of what use do collectivists and authoritarians have for independent thinkers who will only end up challenging their rule?

So, now that we’ve defined the problem properly, isn’t the answer obvious? Replace these controls with REAL schools, free-market schools, thereby sweeping such agitprop out with the rest of the trash. Then our kids might actually have a fighting chance at self-realization.

Bradley Harrington is a computer technician and a writer who lives in Cheyenne. Email:

NOTE: This column was originally published in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle on March 18, 2018. Here is this column’s original downloadable PDF file.

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5th-Grader’s Dreams Trigger Avalanche of Ideas, Emotions

By Bradley Harrington

“What I’m looking for is not out there, it’s in me.” — Helen Keller, “The Story of My Life,” 1903 —

WTE3 Column #88 Illustration -- July 4, 1776It isn’t often a letter by a 5th-grader will really make me ponder things, but the one by Kearra Siler (“People need to stop being stubborn, unkind, mean,” “Local 5th-graders share their dreams for Laramie County,” WTE, Feb. 19) sure did, so …

Dear Kearra:

I read with intense interest your letter in the WTE and I wanted to share some of my thoughts with you if that’s OK.

You wrote that “what I want to see in this city of Cheyenne is that we be less stubborn, unkind, mean, etc. Everywhere I go, I see people yelling, cussing and fighting. I just want it all to stop.”

Well, I can certainly understand that, as I felt much the same way back when I was a 5th-grader, which was … ‘Way back in 1969, when I was but a small boy of 10 years old.

Despite having gotten old in that half-century in between, however, that little boy’s heart still beats in my chest, and his thoughts and feelings still live in my soul. He’s never gone away — and I can only hope that as you, Kearra, grow older and wiser, your little girl never really goes away either, for it’s the little boys and girls in all of our hearts and souls, no matter what our ages, that make life worth living.

You ask, Kearra: “Why can’t we all get along? Because of haters. Fighters.”

I, too, wondered about the source of all the conflicts — the fights between people, the wars between countries — but, unlike most kids, I decided to actually find out the answers for myself instead of just blindly accepting whatever my teachers and parents offered me.

And this is what I discovered: That, despite it sounding like a worthy goal, it is NOT beneficial for us to all think the same, believe the same, or pursue the same goals.

As individual human beings, you see, we all have unique thoughts and desires — and, therefore, as long as two or more are gathered together, there’s going to be disagreements. That’s simply a fact of life.

There ARE ways, however, for people to disagree and still get along without hating and fighting, both personally and socially, and it’s really pretty simple when you think about it. Each of us just has to be willing to let people do and think their own things. We have to be willing to give others the space to be who they are, as long as they don’t take away your right to do the same.

There’s a phrase for that idea, Kearra, and it’s called “individual liberty” — which is just a fancy, adult way of saying that we each have the right to our own thoughts and lives, as well as the right to free association.

And this nation we live in? The United States of America was actually the pioneer of that idea, as enshrined in our “Declaration of Independence”: That among these rights are “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

No, that idea was not practiced consistently — but it WAS the first time in human history that it had ever even been proposed. And it was that idea that made possible the “melting pot” that America is famous for — a melting pot that worked because it set men and women free from other men and women.

So, as you look at the hating and fighting around you, Kearra, ask yourself: What makes it possible? Do we, as a country, still adhere to the American Dream of individual liberty? And, if not, isn’t that our real problem? That, now, instead of letting people be free, we’re busy meddling in everyone’s lives and telling everybody what to do?

You wouldn’t want someone to tell YOU what you have to think and do, would you, Kearra? So, what else could we ever expect from such actions, other than resentment, hatred and fighting?

So, Kearra, here’s my advice: Forget about those others. You can’t control them, but you CAN control yourself! Find out who YOU are and what YOU want out of life … And then go after it with everything you’ve got, never permitting another person to stand in your way.

And, possibly later, on the chance that you’re interested in solving that wider problem: Shouldn’t we be returning to that idea of individual liberty, making it consistent this time, and getting rid of all the rulings we’ve put in its place?

For that, you see, Kearra, is MY dream …

Bradley Harrington is a computer technician and a writer who lives in Cheyenne. Email:

NOTE: This column was originally published in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle on March 11, 2018. Here is this column’s original downloadable PDF file.

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Fire the RIGHT Officials and You Can Save a Pile of Funds

By Bradley Harrington

“It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself.” — Thomas Jefferson, “Notes on Virginia,” 1782 —

WTE3 Column #87 Illustration -- Bureaucratic Pink SlipA few weeks back, I observed that “Wyoming, additionally, has the highest per-capita proportion of government workers as well, with fully 22.4 percent of its population in 2015 employed by government at all levels (the national average was 14.2 percent).” (“Red-ink budgets rooted in our red-ink thinking,” WTE, Feb. 11.)

By way of comparison, what was the entire country’s percentage of government workers on all levels back in 1900? 3.86 percent, a fraction of today’s figure (from “The Rise of Big Government in the United States,” John F. Walker and Harold G. Vatter, 1997.)

And, since that 3.86 percentage figure included all military, law-enforcement and court personnel — the only government workers needed to actually protect our individual rights — isn’t it fair to conclude that this is the absolute, upper-ceiling limit to that percentage that we need to have?

(And that’s being charitable, as even back in 1900, the country had already grown a pretty good crop of meddlesome bureaucrats.)

Now, of course, with a total population in 2015 of 321 million, 3.86 percent of it translates into 12.4 million employees, as a maximum, that our current population needs to protect its rights.

And yet, we seem to be employing quite a few more bureaucrats than that: As of 2015, the actual number of government workers rang in at “21,995,000 employed by federal, state and local government in the United States” (“21,995,000 to 12,329.000: Government employees outnumber manufacturing employees 1.8 to 1,”, Sept. 8, 2015).

That’s about 9.5 million more than we actually need. So, here’s my plan for guaranteed jobs-creation and economic growth: Fire ‘em all.

And just imagine the benefits:

■ At an average salary of $51,340 for government workers on all levels, that’s an instant savings of nearly $488 billion. Not much when compared to $20 trillion, admittedly, but every little bit helps when you’re going bankrupt. The “free lunch” lines will increase for a while, but those former bureaucrats were essentially non-productive anyway. This way the taxpayers can now spend more of their money as they see fit instead of being forced by law to subsidize the livelihood of their jailers.

■ Apart from their salaries, however, those 9.5 million bureaucrats currently spend incredible amounts of taxpayer cash. Fire the RIGHT 9.5 million and you can save a pretty good pile of dollars.

Some $10-an-hour job sweeping floors at Capitol Hill, for instance, will cost us the price of the sweeper’s wages and benefits. Place that same sweeper into a suit and an office at the Dept. of Energy,  however, and that joker can cost you millions of dollars in assets and productivity before he’s even swilled his second cup of coffee. Especially if you happen to be an energy company.

And, speaking of the Dept. of Energy, which only has 16,000 employees but blows $25 billion yearly: Doesn’t that mean that each employee flushes an average of $1.56 million taxpayer dollars down the toilet annually?

Statistically speaking, we can call this the “flush factor” — but, when you start comparing them to one another, it’s instantly obvious that the Dept. of Energy’s “flush factor” is tiny indeed when compared to some other federal bureaucracies.

The Department of Education, for instance, employs a mere 5,000 people, but manages to squander $56 billion yearly, so that’s a “flush factor” nearly 10 times that of the Dept. of Energy, or $11.2 million per employee annually.

So, while closing those two bureaucracies right there barely makes a dent in the 9.5 million bureaucrats the country needs to relieve itself of, we’ve already saved $81 billion.

Anyone still want to claim that we’re not paying a price for our controls? Or that government can “stimulate” the economy?

■ And, finally, 9.5 million bureaucrats will no longer be acting to corrupt and pollute the integrity of our political and economic environment. Just imagine what the productive capacity of this country would be like with 9.5 million less dictators meddling in our affairs and telling us what to do. Pretty hard to put a price tag on that one, but I’d bet my next stimulus check that it’s trillions of dollars yearly, easy.

Such a proposal, of course, will encounter heavy opposition: 9.5 million bureaucrats relieved of their “responsibilities” will holler to the heavens about their pork being pinched, and government itself will greatly resist such a move as it will severely curtail its plans for more power and control.

Before too long, however, they’ll all be back to earning money again, this time doing real work such as digging ditches for instance, and everything will be fine.

Bradley Harrington is a computer technician and a writer who lives in Cheyenne. Email:

NOTE: This column was originally published in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle on March 4, 2018. Here is this column’s original downloadable PDF file.

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Communistic Social Schemes Nothing but Envy at Gunpoint

By Bradley Harrington

“To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much … is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.” — Thomas Jefferson, “Letter to Joseph Milligan,” 1816 —

WTE3 Column #86 Illustration -- Communism is TheftIt isn’t often someone writes a rant defending rich people, so I knew when I penned “‘Tax the rich’ philosophy cuts into all of our wealth” last week (WTE, Feb. 18), I was bound to trigger objections.

Objections such as this, for instance: “History disagrees with Mr. Harrington. Concentration of capital in a tiny percentage of the population is a recipe for disaster. Thomas Piketty sets it out meticulously in ‘Capital in the Twenty-First Century.’” (“Gruf Rude,” “Online comments,” Feb 18.)

Always curious to learn something new about political philosophy — but with a gut feeling, based on decades of study and debate in that arena, that I was about to step into some kind of collectivist rehash — I checked out the reference.

Nor did my gut feeling fail me, as the following Wikipedia summary of the book’s thesis (accurate, in my opinion, after reading it) makes clear: “The central thesis of the book is that inequality is not an accident, but rather a feature of capitalism, and can only be reversed through state interventionism. The book thus argues that, unless capitalism is reformed, the very democratic order will be threatened.” (Wikipedia, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” 2018.)

And what would such “reform” consist of, one wonders? “The right solution is a progressive annual tax on capital,” Piketty tells us, as this “will make it possible to avoid an endless inegalitarian spiral while preserving competition and incentives for new instances of primitive accumulation.” (Thomas Piketty, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” 2014.)

So: The problem, as Piketty sees it, is that (1) Some people have more wealth than other people do, and (2) That such inequalities are actually “not an accident” but function as a “feature” of capitalism.

Except that “inequality” is not a “feature” of capitalism, as such, but an aspect of reality itself: ALL of us are completely and absolutely unequal to one another in millions of different ways. (Sidebar: Such inequalities of ability and outcomes are NOT to be confused with the equality of all of our individual rights, which all of us DO retain equally.)

The fact that some people actually produce more than other people, however — the fundamental inequality leading to all the rest, economically speaking — is completely discounted by Piketty and his ilk, a fact apparently not worthy of notice or consideration.

Discounted, but NOT ignored: Otherwise, why the progressive taxes? No, the Pikettys of the world don’t seek to wipe out the fact that some individuals produce while others don’t — they merely seek to enslave them, along with the products of their efforts, instead.

What, then, separates Piketty’s political philosophy from communism? Not much that I can see, as both Piketty and Marx view the rightfully-produced wealth of individuals as the property of the State, as nothing more than economic tools to be used, plundered and exploited at will, for whatever purposes the State deems appropriate, all at the point of a government gun.

The fact that such communist economies have ever been spectacles of chaos, control and stagnation, of course, is just another aspect of reality that utopians such as Piketty and Marx choose to ignore.

Throughout the industrial history of the United States, however, where such “concentrations of capital” were encouraged and rewarded not penalized and punished, that capital accumulation made possible a level of production and a standard of living never seen before in all of man’s history. Far from such “concentrations” being a “recipe for disaster” as “Gruf Rude” claims, they are absolutely essential for such accumulations of investment capital to occur. And the more “accumulations” the better.

Nor do such accumulations take from anybody else, as — again — such concentrations represent NEW wealth that has been introduced into the economy. In reason, justice and morality, that new wealth belongs to those who created it. The fact that capitalism leaves that wealth in the hands of its creators is not its greatest flaw, but its greatest virtue instead.

So, what are we left with? Jealousy, as far as I can tell; some people just can’t stand the thought that other people might have more than they do and think they can just go ahead and steal it.

Thus, ENVY is now to be the force that drives all of our political organization? Now THAT, Dear Reader, is a “recipe for disaster.”

Bradley Harrington is a computer technician and a writer who lives in Cheyenne. Email:

NOTE: This column was originally published in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle on February 25, 2018. Here is this column’s original downloadable PDF file.

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“Tax the Rich” Philosophy Cuts Into All of Our Wealth

By Bradley Harrington

“Tax the rich / Feed the poor / ‘Till there are no rich no more …” — “I’d love to change the world,” Alvin Lee, 1971 —

WTE3 Column #85 Illustration -- Capital is LifeThere are a large number of factors that can impact the manner in which an economy grows, or has its growth hindered — but the one thing no economy anywhere can live without, the one element that has to be present for it to even function, is: Investment capital.

“Investment capital,” in essence, is privately-owned surplus wealth that has been infused into particular economic enterprises in order to generate profits — and, as the financial engine that creates such development, it is the vehicle that drives all new production.

Consider, as an example of this process, the field of calculators:

In 1968, when Hewlett-Packard released the first fully-electronic 9100A calculator, it sold for $4,900 – something only a rich person would buy. By 1971, however, Sharp and Canon were releasing portable calculators for $295 to $345. By 1974, prices had plummeted to well under $100; and, by 1975, they could be had for under $20. By 2001, credit-card-sized calculators sold for 50 cents.

So, in the space of 33 years, calculators — while also becoming micro-miniaturized and far more capable than HP’s original desk-bound 9100A — crashed in price from $4,900 to 50 cents. Yet what is even more illuminating than those incredible price reductions is the nature of the course those savings took. Consider:

When HP’s 9100A hit the shelves, it was a plaything for the rich — “luxury” spending. As the high profitability of such manufacturing acted to attract huge amounts of research and investment capital, however, competitive forces kicked in and quickly brought those prices down to the point where, in less than a decade, the poorest person in the country could buy one.

Thus, it was the SPENDING OF THE RICH — coupled with their investment capital — that made that whole process possible and acted as the catalyst for everything that followed. Remove those elements and we’re back to buying abacuses.

What are we to make, then, of proposals such as this? Where State Legislator Cathy Connolly, D-Laramie, who never saw a tax hike she didn’t like, has a new income-tax scheme for us to take a look at:

“‘The bill we’re proposing, that wouldn’t kick in until someone has about a $350,000 personal income. Mom and pop on the street, you and your neighbor, that income tax rate would be zero.’” (“Wyoming legislative leadership expects differences,” WTE, Feb 13.)

Really, Ms. Connolly? Let’s consider just what your proposed “soak the rich” income tax would actually mean in the real world:

For anyone making $350,000 or more a year, it stands to reason that any tax paid on that income is going to come not from consumption income, but surplus income instead.

It is precisely such “surplus” income, however — whether it is directly invested by the owners themselves, or saved and then invested by the saving institutions — that drives all capital investment. Reduce that and you’ve just reduced your average standard of living by that same amount.

You’ve actually reduced it substantially more than that, however, since such taxes not only stunt the initial areas of investment, but also the would-have-been additions to the economy that would have flowed from such investments had they been left to chart their own courses.

And, as we’ve seen with the calculator field, the impacts of such developments can be tremendous and far-reaching: Does anyone care to figure out just how many jobs have been created in the calculator field since 1968? Or in its spin-off industries? Or of how many hundreds of billions of dollars have been added to our GDP as a result?

And, as we ponder such losses, inflicted to the extent that we simply “soak the rich” of their investment capital, does anyone care to trace out the impacts of such losses onto “Mom and Pop on the street”? It’s precisely “you and your neighbor” that will be affected the most, since it’s your jobs that will be disappearing out from underneath you.

I predict, however, that Connolly will continue to trod her tax-and-spend path, completely ignorant of its devastating implications, acting as the savior for the “little guy” … While her plans, if implemented, would actually decrease the chances of any of us being able to produce anything for ourselves at all.

Whether or not YOU, Dear Reader, will fall for her communistic approach to your income, however, is still up for grabs.

Bradley Harrington is a computer technician and a writer who lives in Cheyenne. Email:

NOTE: This column was originally published in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle on February 18, 2018. Here is this column’s original downloadable PDF file.

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