From Whiskey and Gunpowder:
“Must Do” #5: Educate Your Family.
Share what you read with each other. Watch documentaries like The Fall of America together.
Those who don’t understand the past are doomed to repeat the mistakes of those who came before them. Back in the 60s, when I hit the enlightened age of 18, I couldn’t legally drink, nor could I vote. But I could be drafted and sent to Vietnam. I was making the minimum wage of $2.35 an hour. My two-bedroom apartment in Boston cost $120 a month. Gas was 19 cents a gallon and a cheeseburger at McDonalds cost 29 cents. Cigarettes were under a buck and a six-pack of Rolling Rock beer was 99 cents. My first new car was a Fiat 850 Spyder, which cost less than my current annual car insurance bill of $1500. A three-minute phone call from Boston to Hawaii cost over $10.
And this is why it’s important to understand history. The Republican recession of the early 70s featured gas lines where you could only buy gas on odd or even days. What never got covered in news stories about the gas lines was that in addition to ending up paying a higher price at the pump, the octane level was lowered…the gasoline was diluted. A lot like a coke dealer stepping on the product to get more income for the same amount of product. I know because my Fiat 850 was a high-strung sports car that only ran on 97-octane premium gasoline. Suddenly, the octane level for premium dropped to 93 and the car was never the same.
There was a lot of press on the gas shortages and the resulting price jumps in the cost of gasoline. There was not one article on the watering down of gasoline, which also increased profits for the gas companies. It was a classic case of misdirection, while the left hand was busy screwing us with higher gas prices, we never saw the right hand screwing us with diluted product. The point being, unless you educate yourself you’ll never recognize when you’re being screwed — you certainly can’t rely on the press to do this work for you.
Last week we railed against wasting your time watching TV when you could be reading and learning. Fundamentally, reading is learning on an individual level. We advise you to hold weekly discussions amongst your friends and family to share what you learned. But there’s another way to learn collectively.
First, let’s point out that not all TV is bad for you. When used properly TV can offer an incredible learning experience on a group level — it’s the perfect media to learn things together as a family. Here are two things we feel worth watching on TV.
The first is “Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life,” (You might want to read her two famous novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged before you watch this documentary. Personally, I’d also recommend reading her play, Night of January 16th.) Written and directed by Michael Paxton, the documentary is less about her work and more about her life. Having previously read her books, you can now draw your own conclusions on how and why she developed her life style/philosophy of Objectivism.
A personal side note here. During the summer between my junior and senior years in high school I was working on campus at the media center. One day, my soon to be senior English teacher walked into the lab to get some copies made. She asked me what books I had read for summer reading. I proclaimed “The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged.” She responded with “I hate Ayn Rand.” From that point on my teacher and I clashed in every conceivable way. I failed to make the honor roll because of her for the first time in my academic life. The saving grace was that I had already been accepted to College in my junior year, so short of flunking my senior year nothing she did could adversely affect me. And since I was in advanced placement English, the lowest grade she was allowed to give me was a C-. There’s a clue here. Anything that stirs such a passionate response (“I hate Ayn Rand” followed by a year-long vendetta qualifies as a passionate response) is worth studying. It doesn’t matter if you’re for or against, if you love Ayn Rand or hate Ayn Rand — anything that can provoke such a visceral response is something you need to make yourself aware of.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t include The Fall of America and the Western World in our recommended TV viewing. You wouldn’t be receiving these newsletters if it weren’t for this stellar documentary. With the stakes rising daily in our struggle to survive the economic nightmare we find ourselves in, our best weapon is to be informed. The Fall of America and The Western World contains over eight hours of critical information, information that teaches, information that is practical, information that is life changing, information that very well may be crucial to your survival.