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The First Americans

Who were the first Americans? Forty years ago, historians, archeologists, and anthropologists would have answered conclusively that the first Americans arrived from Eastern Asia via a land bridge across the Bering Strait around twelve thousand years ago.  These were the Clovis peoples, an early American people essentially discovered by former slave George McJunkin in 1908 after he uncovered a prehistoric bison skeleton and an early stone point in a New Mexico dry river bed.  But things change, and as Liberty Classroom members know, the historical “consensus” is not always accurate.

History takes imagination and a willingness to accept evidence that does not fit the “consensus” position.  Smithsonian historian Dennis J. Stanford has argued for twenty years that the first Americans in fact arrived from either Western Asia or Europe and are closely linked to the ancient Solutrean peoples of France.  He was originally ridiculed, rejected, and marginalized by the profession, but slowly, his position has found favor among academics.  His work may finally be proved by science.

A forthcoming book by Texas A&M press explains that DNA analysis has revealed that the first Americans had more in common genetically with Western Asians or Europeans than Eastern Asians.  If so, history texts will need to be rewritten.  In perhaps another thirty years, the “consensus” may be that the first Americans arrived across ice sheets from Europe, not Asia, and brought with them the “Clovis” technology that has never been found outside of Europe or Western Asia other than in the Americas.  Of course, this will take an open mind.   The historical “profession” is notorious for the opposite, and the Solutrean thesis is rife with political controversy.

While the United States history courses as Liberty Classroom do not cover this subject, I believe this is an important topic and one that our members may find interesting.  Controversy is always fun.  Here is an hour long lecture by Stanford explaining his thesis in detail.  Enjoy!

Celebrate With a Free Copy of Nullification

It was 215 years ago this month that the Kentucky legislature approved the legendary Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, spelling out the Jeffersonian remedy of state nullification of unconstitutional federal laws. In honor of that, we’re giving away signed, personalized copies of my book Nullification to people who join LibertyClassroom.com in the coming days!

Liberty Classroom is where you can learn the economics and history most of us didn’t get in school, but should have, taught by professors you can trust. Everything comes in both video and audio, according to your preference, and can be viewed or listened to on the go. Plus, you get a year’s access to our Q&A forums, in addition to recommended readings for all topics covered, and a monthly live session at which you can get your questions answered in real time.

One subscription gets you all these courses (with more to come):

US History to 1877

US History Since 1877

Introduction to Logic

Austrian Economics: Step by Step

John Maynard Keynes: His System and Its Fallacies

Western Civilization to 1500

Western Civilization Since 1500

US Constitutional History

To get your free book, join us today, then drop us a note with your mailing address. And you’re done! But this offer lasts only as long as our supply does. Once we have to order more copies, it’s all over….

Live Q&A Tonight!

Our historians are having a live Q&A tonight, free and open to the public. Got questions? We’ll try to come up with answers. We’re starting at 8:00pm ET tonight and going until 9:30. Join us by clicking this link at that time. Bring your questions or just come and watch. Plus, a chat window for participants to talk among themselves.

See you tonight!

Students Claim Econ Department is Too Free Market [!]

Economics Students Aim to Tear Up Free-Market Syllabus,” reads the headline in The Guardian. Some excerpts:

A growing band of university students are plotting a quiet revolution against orthodox free-market teaching, arguing that alternative ways of thinking have been pushed to the margins.

Economics undergraduates at the University of Manchester have formed the Post-Crash Economics Society, which they hope will be copied by universities across the country. The organisers criticise university courses for doing little to explain why economists failed to warn about the global financial crisis and for having too heavy a focus on training students for City jobs.

Yet no curiosity at all about the Austrian School of economics, many of whose economists did predict the crisis, and who are far more free market than the vast majority of the neoclassicals who teach them.

Joe Earle, a spokesman for the Post-Crash Economics Society and a final-year undergraduate, said academic departments were “ignoring the crisis” and that, by neglecting global developments and critics of the free market such as Keynes and Marx, the study of economics was “in danger of losing its broader relevance”.

So Joe takes for granted that “the free market” caused the crash. I’d be willing to bet that’s by and large what his professors think, too, to one degree or another. So what is supposed to be so bold about this? (My impatience might be excused here, given that I wrote a whole book outlining the government interventions and Federal Reserve policies that brought on the crash. I cover so-called “deregulation” in one section of my 2011 book Rollback.)

Austrian economics is one mouse click away these days. There isn’t much excuse for students who portray themselves as just so darn original and heterodox not even to acknowledge its existence.

A professor sympathetic to the students writes:

It is given such a dominant position in our modules that many students aren’t even aware that there are other distinct theories out there that question the assumptions, methodologies and conclusions of the economics we are taught.

Evidently, they’re completely unaware of the Austrians.

Multiple-choice and maths questions dominate the first two years of economics degrees, which Earle said meant most students stayed away from modules that required reading and essay-writing, such as history of economic thought. “They think they just don’t have the skills required for those sorts of modules and they don’t want to jeopardise their degree,” he said. “As a consequence, economics students never develop the faculties necessary to critically question, evaluate and compare economic theories, and enter the working world with a false belief about what economics is and a knowledge base limited to neoclassical theory.”

No Austrian would disagree with any of this, but still no mention. Orwell’s ghost hovers over the whole thing.

In the decade before the 2008 crash, many economists dismissed warnings that property and stock markets were overvalued. They argued that markets were correctly pricing shares, property and exotic derivatives in line with economic models of behaviour.

What about the economists who said the problem was precisely that “the market” obviously wasn’t doing the pricing, which was being ginned up by government policy, central bank manipulation, etc.? They do not exist.

Here’s a sliver of a picture of the “free market” that exists in the U.S., just on the money side alone:

(1) a coercively imposed monopoly on the production of money;

(2) monopolistic legal tender laws, which artificially privilege the money issued by the government-established central bank;

(3) a central bank with the monopoly power to create legal-tender money out of thin air, a power granted to it by the government, and with a mandate to manipulate the money supply in the purported service of maximizing output and minimizing unemployment and price inflation;

(4) interest rates influenced by a monopoly monetary authority instead of by the free market;

(5) implicit and explicit bailout guarantees for large financial institutions;

(6) artificially low borrowing costs for large institutions, since the public knows these institutions will be bailed out;

(7) artificial protection of the banks, in the form of government deposit insurance and various Federal Reserve mechanisms, thereby keeping afloat a fractional-reserve system that would be radically different under a free market; under the existing system the banks will therefore create more money out of thin air than they otherwise would.

Now that’s just the money side. Forget about government real-estate programs and the whole rotten system of government intervention.

The only alternative these kids — whom, again, we are supposed to consider bold and cheeky — is further government control.

You do not need to fall into this trap. Jeff Herbener and GP Manish will teach you the real stuff.

The Beauty and Waste of Versailles

The palace of Versailles is one of the most recognized landmarks in Western Civilization.  Built by Louis XIV, it is a striking artistic and architectural achievement, rivaled only by the marvels of antiquity.  Yet, the palace is also a prime example of government waste and corruption and the problems of political and economic centralization.  The French economy crumbled following two expensive wars in the 18th century (The Seven Years War and The American War for Independence), not to mention the constant warfare under Louis XIV, and the bureaucracy of Louis XIV was a snake pit littered with intriguing courtiers and self-interested aristocrats.  No one but the “Sun King” could manage it successfully.  The court arrogated both power and wealth to the center through its heavy-handed mercantilist programs and dominated the provinces and the French legal system under the model of a unitary state.  During the reign of Louis XVI, Charles Alexander de Calonne proposed a series of reforms which would have transformed the French economy (free trade, hard money, reduced taxes on the 3rd Estate), but the 1st and 2nd Estates rejected it out of self interest.  A political safety valve did not exist in France–the Estates General had been suspended in the early 1600s–and the economic and political problems spilled over into Revolution.  Pre-revolutionary France offers fine examples for modern society to avoid: debt, waste, continual wars, centralization, corruption, a detached and decadent political class, inflationary monetary policies and central banking.  We should heed the warnings.

Regardless, I still wonder at Versailles and am struck by the splendor of the palace.   It was designed to do so.   Here are two videos–one, two–that I find to be a fascinating look at both pre-Revolution and post-Revolution Versailles.  They are short, under five minutes, are well produced, and are from a great website: http://www.versailles3d.com/en/. Enjoy!  By the way, if you watch the videos, mention you found them at libertyclassroom.com  in the comments section.  It would be a great way to bring other cool people to the best educational opportunity on the web.

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