Stock Market Update – November 30, 2013

The Dow is above 16,000.  The S&P is above 1,800.  The NASDAQ is above 4,000.  The stock market is roaring and not much seems to be able to stop it.

There are some who think stocks are in bubble territory.  There are others who say that is ridiculous and that prices reflect the fundamentals.

I think it all depends on how you define a bubble.  Stocks may be in a bubble, but it could still be far from the peak.  We might see stocks go up another 50% before we see a crash back down.

There is one thing that is almost irrefutable and that is that the stock market is being held up by the Fed and its monetary policy.  I think even most stock bulls would agree with that.  It really became obvious over the summer when there would be speculation of a Fed “taper” and stocks would fall.  Then a few Fed officials would come out and say that the tapering will be minor or that it might be further down the road than originally anticipated.  Then stocks would go back up.

The Fed has been pumping in about $85 billion per month for almost a year now.  The Fed has more than quadrupled the adjusted monetary base over the last 5 years.  It is on its way to being quintupled.

So it shouldn’t really surprise anyone that stocks are doing well.  When there is monetary inflation, it doesn’t spread out evenly across the economy.  The new money goes into hot spots.  Stocks are probably the hottest place right now.  Real estate has picked up too, but not as much as stocks.

The biggest surprise for me is that gold hasn’t caught fire yet.  If the Fed monetary inflation continues, perhaps this will be the next hot spot.  We can’t really know for sure, as it depends on the decision making of millions of people.

The Dow and S&P 500 are hitting all-time highs, at least in nominal terms.  The NASDAQ is still short of its all-time high.  It briefly was above the 5,000 mark back in 2000.  That was a true bubble and that bubble burst in a major way.

It is very difficult to determine the direction stocks will take.  Of course, anyone who knew this with certainty would probably be a billionaire in the making.  But sometimes we can take good guesses as to the general direction.  For now, the direction seems to be up.  But everything is dependent on monetary policy going forward and the market reaction to it.

The one thing I am fairly certain about is that stock prices don’t have a lot to do with business fundamentals right now, at least in the traditional sense.  You may be able to pick some good individual stocks on this basis, but you will not be successful with the broad market.

Most of it will be decided by Fed policy.  If the Fed ups the ante or if banks start lending more, then I would expect stocks to keep going up in general.  If the Fed really does taper significantly and the banks keep their excess reserves high, then a downturn in stocks is far more likely.

We will keep watching what the Fed says and does.  The central bank dramatically affects our investments.  It shouldn’t be this way, but that is the reality we live in and that is the reality we have to deal with.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate.  I think it really is a great time to give thanks for what you have.  This should include the love of family and friends, as well as the goods and services we enjoy.

While it is easy to see all of the bad things going on in the world and to be pessimistic about the economy and the job market, we should also step back and realize how blessed most of us are.

If you are reading this blog, then you either have a computer or have access to a computer or some kind of electronic device.  The word “blog” as we know it today certainly didn’t exist 20 years ago.

I also like to think about food, particularly since Thanksgiving involves eating a big meal.  Most of us don’t have to go out and pick our own food or hunt for our meat, unless it is by choice.  We can just go to the grocery store and walk down the aisles and pick out what we like best.  Then we take out our credit card (or cash or food stamps or checkbook) and the food is all ours.  We can take it home and enjoy it under the roof of our shelter in a comfortable climate.

This is the miracle of property rights and the division of labor.

Whenever you get really stressed out over something like a job or being tight on money, you should just think about what you do have and the luxuries you do enjoy.

This doesn’t mean you should never complain, especially when it comes to the politicians stealing your money.  But for your own health and well being, it is important to take time every now and then to recognize the good things that you have.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Obama Does Something Right

I have been critical of virtually everything that Obama and his administration have done since the moment he took office.  He has been a disaster on all economic issues, on civil liberties, and on foreign policy.  I consider him a disaster on foreign policy because he has continued the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (although to a lesser extent in Iraq) and he has also started new ones.  He has also used drone bombings in his arsenal to kill even more innocent civilians.

But while I consider Obama and his administration a disaster, I think he may be the lesser of disasters when it comes to foreign policy, at least in terms of the two major parties.

The latest foreign policy news is that Obama is welcoming a deal regarding Iran and its pursuit of uranium enrichment.  It would also lessen sanctions on Iran, which are really just sanctions against the innocent people living there.

I can’t imagine that George W. Bush would have ever been a part of such a thing.  I also can’t imagine John McCain or Mitt Romney doing it.  Maybe there is a chance with Romney, but McCain as president seems like it would have guaranteed a world war or nuclear war.

When Obama was running for president both times, I said that I thought it was better that Obama get elected over his main opponent.  While I consider Obama to be evil when it comes to foreign policy, he is actually less so than what his opponents were indicating they would do.

Obama has been terrible on fiscal policy, but at least most Americans recognize him as pro-big government.  So with a still struggling economy and Obamacare almost instantly turning into a major problem, at least Americans can blame Obama and his big government policies.  If Romney were president, some would be blaming his supposed free market policies for everything that is wrong.

In that sense, Obama has been really good for libertarians.  He is about as good as we could have hoped for in foreign policy from either of the two major parties.  It still is terrible, but probably the least bad.  In terms of economics, Romney and McCain would have both been bad, but at least with Obama we can correctly blame the problem of big government policies.

And if we are going to get big government policies, it is actually better to get them in terms of more welfare as opposed to more warfare.  While Obamacare is terrible and really probably will result in needless deaths, at least it isn’t killing anyone directly at the moment.  With war, death to innocent people is almost a guarantee.

I think this whole deal with Iran is a great step forward toward more peace in this world.  It is a small step, but at least it seems that it is a step in the right direction for once.

Despite what all the war hawks said and continue to say, the people of Iran are not evil.  Even those in power there are not as evil as what has been accused.  They are no more evil than most American politicians.  The former president, Ahmadinejad, was supposed to be a true nut case according to the Republican hacks.  He was supposed to be the next Hitler.  Yet, he stepped aside for the next president who was elected by the people.

So while this is a small step and it doesn’t excuse all of the other evil things done by Obama, I will say this one time that Obama may have done something right and just.

Interest on Excess Reserves

It is being reported that some U.S. banks are warning that they might have to start charging a fee to depositors.  This would include individuals and companies.  In other words, if you have a checking account, you will likely have to pay a monthly maintenance fee.

The reason for this warning is due to fear (by the bankers) that the Fed may stop paying interest on excess reserves.  The minutes from the Fed’s October meeting suggest that this is an option that the Fed might take to offset the effects of “tapering”.

In other words, the Fed is going to slow down its monetary inflation at some point in the future.  It will keep creating money out of thin air, but just at a slower pace.  So to prevent the economy from being harmed too much (in the eyes of a statist), the Fed will eliminate interest payments on excess reserves.  I suppose the theory is that this would then encourage banks to reduce their excess reserves.  This would mean more fractional reserve banking and would likely lead to higher price inflation as money multiplies through the system.

Interestingly, in a true free market environment, people likely would pay a fee for banks to hold their deposits.  If you wanted to avoid such a fee, you would likely have to agree with the bank that the bank can lend out your money.  Otherwise, it is a loss for the bank.  Why would the bank hold your money for you while not being able to lend it out?  If you didn’t pay a maintenance fee, the bank would be losing money on its service.

Of course, in a true free market environment, the banks would not be getting bailed out and would not have the FDIC and the Fed as backstops.  Banks would have to take far less risk.

I would be surprised if the Fed decides to eliminate the .25% interest it pays on excess reserves.  This has been done since 2008 and it has helped keep a lid on prices by encouraging banks not to lend as much.

I’m guessing if the Fed reduced this interest, then it would just be eliminated.  It is already small, so I’m not sure what the point would be of reducing it to something like .10%.

If the interest payment is eliminated, I’m still not sure how much of a difference it will make.  As one person said in the article, it is not as if banks will suddenly start lending, because there isn’t the demand for it.  It may not be that the banks don’t want to lend.  It may be that people and businesses don’t want to borrow or simply can’t borrow due to their own financial situation.

If the Fed does eliminate the interest payments on bank reserves, then we will likely see the maintenance fees on checking accounts become more common.  Most Americans will complain about it.  In some sense, they are right to be mad because the big banks are continually being subsidized and bailed out at the expense of the little guy.

But Americans shouldn’t worry so much about paying a small monthly fee for their checking account.  They should worry about the massive price inflation that could be unleashed if banks start lending more.  Paying a $5 monthly fee to the bank will be nothing compared to paying an extra $25 or $50 a week for groceries.

In conclusion, I’m not sure why the Fed would threaten to reduce or eliminate interest payments on bank reserves.  The Fed has been able to more than quadruple the monetary base in the last 5 years with minimal consumer price inflation.  The Fed has been able to have its cake and eat it too.  Why would they risk changing this scenario right now?

If the Fed does eliminate interest payments and it has the desired effect of more bank lending, then we should all be fearful for the massive price inflation that will likely follow.

Suze Orman – Investment Advice vs. Money Management

I will occasionally tune in to the Suze Orman show on CNBC.  I paid attention to Suze Orman quite a while back and I have even read parts of one her books.  At the time, I was looking at buying a primary residence and she offers some good basic lessons and advice in at least one of her books.

I think some people think of Suze Orman as geared towards women.  Perhaps that may be true, but most of her advice would apply equally to men.
I have been somewhat critical of Suze Orman in the past on specific things.  I have warned to be careful in taking investment advice from her.  She used to be one of those people who would suggest that you just buy no-load mutual funds that invest in broad indexes of stocks, as long as you were investing for the long term.  She did seem to change her advice somewhat after the stock market went sour for a while.
I have also held it against Suze (for some reason, it just seems right calling her by her first name) that she is against gold.  It was a few years ago that I heard someone call in and ask her about a gold standard and she blew the person off.  I have never heard her give any advice on investing in gold or gold assets, but let me know in the comments for anyone who has heard otherwise.  I don’t watch all of her shows, so I could have missed something.
With all of that said, when I do tune into her shows, it seems she does not give much investment advice anymore.  Most of her calls are on money management.  I think most of her advice is sound and reasonable.
Since most of her show does not deal with investment advice and since most of her advice on handling money seems reasonable, I would recommend that people watch her show.  There are a variety of callers and you can learn from the good and the bad.  There are some people who call in with enormous debt and you wonder how anyone could get themselves into such a disastrous situation.
Then you will suddenly hear from somebody who is relatively young who is close to being worth a million dollars.
People who watch the Suze Orman show really enjoy the segment called “Can I Afford It?”.  People call in wanting to buy something.  It is usually a luxury item, or at least something that is not a basic need.  They will then run down their financial situation including their age, their income, their expenses, their debt, and their assets.  Suze will then tell them whether they are “denied” or “approved”.
She is not always easy on people.  I have seen people call in and get denied even though they were looking to buy an item that cost just a few thousand dollars or less.  The person may have a net worth of a few hundred thousand dollars, but they still may be denied based on their age.  If you have someone who is 60 years old with a net worth of $200,000, they will probably be denied for most luxury purposes.  Suze will point out that the person is near retirement age and has not saved enough.
In conclusion, I generally recommend watching Suze Orman’s show.  I would be cautious about her investment advice, although I’m not really sure what that is these days.  But her advice on money management and debt is generally quite good and can be helpful for anyone.  It doesn’t matter if your net worth is zero or a million dollars.

If It Ain’t Broke

I used to go to Yahoo! Finance for my market updates.  I could get a quick update in the middle of the day and then check it again after close.  It would show me the major stock market indexes of the U.S., the 10-year yield, the gold price, and the oil price.  It also showed me quotes of the last 10 stocks (or ETFs and mutual funds) that I had searched.

I didn’t really go to Yahoo! Finance for the articles, but I would occasionally click on something that caught my eye.  The site basically gave me what I was looking for.

Since it was working well for me, the company decided to revamp its site.  It changed quite a bit.  The 10-year yield doesn’t show up.  I’m guessing you can find it somewhere, but I’m not really in the mood for searching.  Sometimes, the U.S. markets don’t even show up unless I click away from Asia or Europe to find the U.S.

That is just on my computer.  It gets far worse on my smartphone.  Like so many websites, the site designers make the mobile site far different and far less user friendly.  I used to get the last 10 stock quotes.  These are nowhere to be found on my mobile device.  I scroll down and I just get an endless list of article headlines.  It is almost completely useless.

Why would a company do such thing?  It is absolutely foolish.

I have been back to the site a few times to see if it has been “fixed”.  If I find something I like better, I will probably not go back anymore.  At this point, it won’t be hard to find something better.

Even if Yahoo! Finance does revert back to its past form, it may be too late.  I might not check back to see.  I might even find something I like better than the Yahoo site in its previous form.  The longer the company waits to change back, the more visitors it will lose.

This is a good life lesson and a good business lesson.  The saying is, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  It amazes me how many people ignore this simple advice.  Why would you change something that is already working?  Wouldn’t you at least do extensive marketing research first?  I guarantee you that Yahoo! Finance did not go out and survey 500 customers to see if they liked the new site better before launching it for everyone.  The customers are what count and Yahoo ignored them.

Ironically, it was just a few years ago that I used Yahoo as my search engine.  I had several days in a row where it was slow.  I would type in a search and the letters and words would have a delay from my typing.  I tried Google and did not have the same problem.  I went back to Yahoo for a few days and it was still giving me problems.  I have used Google for my searches ever since.

I was not very forgiving as a customer.  I assume most people are the same way.  You are not going to keep going back to a site that isn’t working for you if there is a perfectly good substitute that is working.

An important phrase is, “first, do no harm”, often attributed to the Hippocratic Oath for doctors.  This should have been Yahoo’s motto, but it ignored it.  It tried to make its finance website fancier and only made it less user friendly.

This reminds me of a struggling football team that fires the quarterback or head coach.  The problem though was really the wide receivers or offensive line.  By firing the wrong person, the team gets even worse.

If things are working well, why change them?  If they need improvement, it doesn’t mean that drastic changes necessarily have to be made.  Make a small change and see if people like it.  This is important in almost any business and is not exclusive to websites.

Obamacare Under Fire

It has actually been quite amazing to see how much criticism has been thrown at Obamacare.  It is typical for Jay Leno and Saturday Night Live to make fun of such things.  These shows generally do not have a problem criticizing the left if it is worth a good laugh.  But to see the more serious (fraudulent) news programs go after Obamacare is a sight.

It is not that the so-called mainstream media is saying that the Republicans were right.  They certainly would not say that the libertarians were right either.  But they have been somewhat critical of a program that was almost universally supported by Democrats and almost universally opposed by Republicans and libertarians.

This is not a matter of the media changing its opinions.  It is a matter of Obamacare being a complete and utter failure.  It is so bad, that even the leftist media can no longer defend it.

Obama’s approval ratings are down, although some polls still show his approval around 40%.  My question is who these 40% are?  Are they paying any attention to what is going on around them?

Over 5 million Americans have received cancellation notices of their health insurance plans.  More are expected.  Meanwhile, those shopping for new plans are finding a lack of success with

But it isn’t just the website that is a failure.  That is just the beginning.  The premiums people will have to pay are huge.  And these are for plans that don’t even cover that much.  They are often high deductible plans where you have to pay the first several thousand dollars out of pocket.  Meanwhile, the premiums are still hundreds of dollars per month.  Most middle class American families simply don’t have the money to pay for all of this.

I believe that most government programs are a lose-lose proposition for most people.  It is usually a tiny fraction of people who gain at the expense of everyone else.  But with Obamacare, it is far more obvious.  Other than a few individuals and companies that benefit, most people are losing on Obamacare.  Even those getting subsidies for their so-called insurance will still find that it is more expensive.  And not only is almost everyone paying more, but the Medicaid program is being expanded.  I still wonder why Medicaid is so needed if Obamacare is supposed to take care of everyone.

I have a good mix of friends on Facebook and I remember some leftist friends who were touting Obamacare so much when it was being passed.  I think they are tongue-tied now.  They would like to pretend that they never advocated such a thing.  If anyone brings it up to them, they will find excuses or find others to blame.  They are just following their master, Obama.  Obama is trying to blame Republicans for the failure of Obamacare.  There are many things to blame Republicans for, but the failure of Obamacare is not one of them.

The 2014 elections are going to be a disaster for the Democrats.  I think they just want to hide in a hole and pretend that this elephant in the living room doesn’t exist.  But it will continue to be on the minds of all of the Americans who either don’t have insurance or will be paying huge premiums for it.

Obamacare’s official name is the Affordable Care Act.  Just like so many other government programs, this accomplishes almost the exact opposite of its stated purpose.

50 Years Later – Why It’s Relevant

November 22, 2013 is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy.  After 50 years, there are probably more people today who believe that Oswald did not act alone, if at all, than at the time it happened.

I have my own libertarian thoughts on the event and what it means.

There are so many bizarre events that happened that day in Dallas and that have come to light since then, but it would take several books to cover them all.  There are a lot of connections that would simply be too improbable to think they are all coincidences.

My belief is that it was an inside job.  It was the establishment, although the establishment can often be hard to define.  Specifically, I think the elements of the CIA coordinated the assassination and the set up of Oswald, assuming Oswald wasn’t part of it.  I also think that two future presidents likely played a role in the planning of the event.

The first and most obvious is Lyndon Johnson.  He became president almost immediately after Kennedy was announced dead.  He was from Texas, which makes Dallas a convenient place for the assassination to have occurred.  Johnson was an enemy of Robert Kennedy, who was the attorney general at the time and supposedly investigating Johnson.  JFK and Johnson were not pals either.  Johnson was as corrupt and crooked as they come.  He was certainly part of the establishment.

Another future president that likely played a role was George H. W. Bush (the first President Bush).  He claimed he didn’t remember where he was when JFK was assassinated.  Yet Bush was flying back and forth to Dallas during this time.  This alone makes him a major suspect.

In addition, Bush had ties to the CIA, even before this event took place.  He was an insider and definitely part of the establishment.  Russ Baker devoted a good portion of his book Family of Secrets to this topic.

I have always found it crazy that Allen Dulles was part of the team to investigate the assassination.  Dulles was essentially fired from the CIA by Kennedy.  In a list of the most likely suspects, Dulles should have been number 2 after Johnson.  I am not saying they fired the shots, but they were calling the shots.

I like to use this example whenever anybody calls for some government investigation of itself.  Are we going to have Hillary Clinton investigate the death of Vince Foster?  Or let’s have NSA members investigate on whether there is any illegal spying.  It never ceases to amaze me how often I hear for people calling for government investigations to investigate itself.  They never have to worry about the findings.

I believe the CIA and insiders took out Kennedy because he was not playing ball as he was supposed to.  While Kennedy certainly had his shortcomings and he was certainly no libertarian, he may have actually had a rare streak of honesty in him that is not usually found in other politicians.  He was trying to calm down the cold war with Russia.  He did not want to go along with his advisors and escalate the situation in Vietnam.  And, of course, Kennedy wanted to tear up the CIA.

A lot of this is covered in James Douglass’ book called JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters.  But really, the most important thing is the last part.  Why does it matter?  Many people today will say it is an interesting topic, but it really doesn’t have any relevance to us today.

But that is not the case at all.  It is very relevant to us.  If Kennedy was assassinated by the CIA with a somewhat successful cover up all this time (at least to the point of nobody ever being convicted for anything), then it is very relevant.  If Kennedy was taken out as an inside job because the insiders didn’t like his policies, then it is very relevant.  If Kennedy was trying to do what was right for the American people and was taken out for doing so, then it is very relevant.

On November 22, 1963, there was a coup d’etat in the United States of America.  Kennedy was the president and he was taken down for his policies.  If the establishment can get away with that, is there anything it can’t get away with?  And if this is true, how can we ever hope of getting a free country again?  If anyone honest ever reaches the highest office again, we can just be assured that he or she will be taken down.

I think this is the most important point to stress to people.  If the government insiders are controlling everything, then we have little hope for peace and freedom unless they are simply overwhelmed by a drastic turn in public opinion that reduces power and decentralizes power.  If insiders will take out anyone who tries to do the right thing for the American people, then why would anyone trust these same people to run their medical care system and their children’s education system?  Why would anyone trust them to catch terrorists or to keep us safe?

In conclusion, the assassination of Kennedy 50 years later is very relevant to us today.  People must be made aware that as long as they consent to being governed, they are not in control at all.  And the system is set up to take down anyone who tries to change the corruption and abuse of power.

Should Libertarians Accept Government Welfare and Government Employment?

There was an article by Eric Peters on his site (also linked at asking and answering whether it is wrong to work for the government.  Peters thinks it is immoral to work for the government, regardless of the job, because government can only pay you through funds that are first taken by force or the threat of force.

I understand the sentiment, but I don’t agree with it.  I take a closer stance to Walter Block, although I don’t necessarily encourage libertarians to seek government employment and government handouts just for the sake of doing so.

I always find it interesting to read the comments after an article, and this one is no exception.

One of the commenters arguing against Peters’ position pointed out that he drives on the government roads.  Peters responded that he owns 8 cars and he more than pays his fair share.  Other commenters misunderstood the point of this comment, thinking the original commenter was claiming that libertarians should not drive on government roads.

But that was not the point at all.  The commenter was trying to point out the hypocrisy, saying that Peters thinks it is immoral to work for the government in any way, yet it is not immoral to drive on the government roads.

For libertarians who think we need to be so pure as to never work for the government and never collect any government welfare, I like to ask them a question.  What would they do if they lived in a totalitarian state like Cuba or North Korea?  What if there were no jobs outside of government?  What if they could only get food from a government run food store?  Would they refuse to work and refuse to eat, thus avoiding being labeled a hypocrite?

I don’t think any libertarian should feel guilty working for the government or accepting government handouts, as long as they are not promoting it.  It is not hypocrisy.  They are just doing the best they can in the situation that has been dealt to them.  I didn’t advocate the big government society we live in today and neither did most other libertarians.  It isn’t our fault that our choices are limited.

I don’t think libertarians should accept jobs where they would directly harm others or directly take from others.  I don’t think libertarians should sign up for the military.  A job at the IRS is a little less clear.  But I would rather be audited by a libertarian IRS agent than a non-libertarian IRS agent.  I suppose if I lived in Afghanistan or Iraq, I would rather have a libertarian military guy receive orders to open fire on my house than a non-libertarian military guy.  At least the libertarian military guy might refuse the orders.

Still, I don’t really think the military or the IRS is any place for a libertarian.  You will just be asked to do things that are completely against your beliefs.  If you work as a teacher or a librarian or a garbage collector for the government, it is not quite the same moral quandary.

Because the government today is so big and invasive, it is almost impossible to find a profession where it isn’t related to the government.  Does Eric Peters think nobody should be a doctor because it is a cartel that uses government rules and licensing to keep out competition?  I suppose that would also leave out any other medical profession like nurses and therapists.  I suppose it would also be morally wrong to work for a daycare because you have to follow stringent government guidelines that act as a barrier of entry to other entrepreneurs.  Where do we stop?

Again, libertarians didn’t ask for the system that we have.  What happens if 90% of all jobs are with the government or related to the government?  Should we limit ourselves to just the 10% remaining out there?  At what percentage is it ok to get a government job, if ever?

As long as you aren’t advocating government programs and government jobs, then I see nothing morally wrong with getting what you can.

The Problem With Government Schools

I am not a fan of government schools.  It is really just welfare.  Government schools are like food stamps, except they are also for the middle class, and even sometimes the rich.

To be clear, I don’t blame anyone for sending their child to a government school, particularly when there are so few other options.  The government forces you to pay for the schools, along with everyone else, so there is certainly nothing morally wrong with using them.  It is your decision on whether you think it is best for your child.

The government makes it very difficult for middle class families to homeschool or send their kids to private school.  Not only do they take a lot of your money away from you, but they also regulate schools and limit competition, thus limiting your choices and also making it more expensive.

I think the main problem with government schools is simply that they are run by the government.  They are bought and paid for with money that has to be extracted with the threat of force.  This in turn creates a whole host of other problems.

But I want to tell you the problem with government schools, outside of the fact that they are funded through immoral means and that attendance is compulsory.  I want to discuss the educational aspect.

Many libertarians make the mistake of criticizing government schools on the basis that kids are not learning enough.  They will talk about test scores and how American children score much lower in math and reading in comparison to many other countries around the world.  But the problem with this is that they are comparing American government schools to foreign countries with mostly government schools.

Here is the problem with government schools from an educational standpoint.  The problems with government schools is not what children aren’t learning; the problem is what the children are learning.

From an education standpoint, if anything, children are probably taught too much in the way of academics.  And they are all taught the same thing at the same age.  You don’t need to teach complicated math to a 3rd grader, especially when they aren’t interested.  In a couple of years, they could probably pick up the same thing in about 10 minutes.

My biggest problem with government schools is what they are taught.  They start them young.  Every day starts off with a pledge to the flag.  They pay homage to the state in many ways.  They are taught to be good little citizens and to trust and love their government.  They are taught to worship the military and all it stands for.  They are taught to follow orders and obey commands.  They are taught to not think outside the box.  Their creativity is stifled.

They are also taught socialism in many schools where all of the kids have to put their supplies in a general bucket, where they are then divided up equally.  It is not sharing.  It is compulsory.  It is perfect symbolism of the government.  They are taught a lesson against property rights.

This is only a small fraction of what goes on over the period of 12 years or more.  I won’t even get into what they teach in history and economics.

But I think libertarians should be careful in how they criticize the government schools.  They should be criticized for moral reasons (they are tax funded).  From an educational standpoint, they should be criticized for their indoctrination.  The problem isn’t that kids aren’t learning enough.  It is that they are learning too much, and much of it is propaganda.

Some of the brainwashed kids will never be cured.  For some, it will take many years to deprogram.  We all go through it.  It is harder for some than others.

I always like to hear people say, “but I went to a government school and I turned out fine.”  How can you ever tell if you are brainwashed?  Part of being brainwashed is not knowing that you are brainwashed.  It is realizing that you were brainwashed that actually starts the process of reversing it.

This could make for an interesting philosophical discussion.