As I have said a few times before, history was my worst subject, contrasted to my best, gym and lunch. English was my next-worst, while the sciences were my next-best.
But, as time went on, I realized that science and technology are not really the most essential component in prosperity. They are hugely important, of course, as technology has given us, and I hope (and expect) will give us, more and better food and water, better homes, faster and more comfortable transportation, instant communication, and far healthier and longer lives. It seems to me that nowadays science is being emphasized in education. There was a time, during my own student years, that I thought the humanities such as history, philosophy and literature were being over-taught at the expense of science. The past is done, so why study it? We are where we are; that was then, this is now. We need to concentrate on the future because that is where we are going. This means science! Lots and lots of science! (My own aptitudes did tend to bias my thinking.)
Now, they are teaching science, which is fine and dandy, but the problem is nowadays, students are not taught to think critically about important issues. They may be encouraged to think, but only to a point, within certain parameters.
The same high school student who wins a state- or nation-wide first prize in technology and winds up being interviewed by Dr. Gupta on CNN may not realize that he is being kept within parameters when his class is asked to write an essay answering this question: “What rights am I willing to give up in order to reduce or eliminate gun violence in and around schools?”
The star science student might say, “See? We are being encouraged to think about issues!”
But look at the question: “What rights.” Isn't the answer “I will only give up this small right, but no more” about the best we can expect when the question is worded this way? If the student answers “I am not willing to give up any rights” it would be a pretty short essay and the teacher is likely to consider the assignment undone. So, the student wants to write more. If he writes that he has given up enough already and why he thinks so, he will be viewed as “selfish” and might face ostracism or even counseling.
Chances are it will not even occur to him that he could answer the question by saying he wants all his rights back, citing the Second Amendment, and if it does and he answers that way, he will be lucky only to get a bad grade. Many students have been suspended for much less with today's asinine “zero tolerance” policies.
Yes, thinking can get a student into serious trouble even if the science department is first rate.
Scientific innovation itself is being curtailed, I believe, because of this in-the-box thinking. And, even if it is not, the way wealth gravitates toward establishment interests (as Dr. Rothbard has shown and as I pointed out these past two winters), innovation will benefit the powerful while the rest of us are left behind.
Freedom, much more than technology, is essential. So essential, in fact, that the very first point Dr. Rothbard made in the Conceived in Liberty series is that history consists of the battle between liberty (the people as individuals) and authority (the State). Whenever liberty is ahead, the people prosper and progress. Whenever authority is ahead, the people become poorer and their lives become more difficult.
Right now, authority is way ahead. It has been ahead for decades. The people are languishing. Mainstream “news” media make a major point of this, but do not give the real reason.
I pray daily that liberty will rise and cut authority down.
But now, as a lousy history student, I want to look at what has happened in the country since my ancestor, William Bradford, came in on the Mayflower. This may give me, and you, a better understanding of why we no longer have a free country, why government is ’way out of control, why the Constitution is being completely ignored, and why most people do not even seem to notice. History repeats itself. This is true but it is because we do not learn from past mistakes!