We the People … Musings on the Body Politic

In the 1700’s, Adam Smith, noted social philosopher and economist, claimed “that if everyone is left to their own economic devices instead of being controlled by the state, then the result would be a harmonious and more equal society of ever-increasing prosperity.” Often considered the father of modern economics and capitalism, his thoughts recorded in The Wealth of Nations are still referenced today. So what is capitalism? Capitalism is “a social system based on the principle of individual rights. Politically, it is the system of laissez-faire (freedom). Legally it is a system of objective laws (rule of law as opposed to rule of man). Economically, when such freedom is applied to the sphere of production its’ result is the free-market.” It is based on private ownership of industry and manufacturing and the creation of goods or services for profit. Essential to a successful capitalist society are the ideas of competitive free markets,wage labor and, yes, capital accumulation. So where are we?

In a true capitalist society, does the government “bailout” banks and automotive manufacturers? Or, should the success of the private sector be an absolute function of the free market? Students and peers of Scott, our Founding Fathers sought to create a loose confederation of United States, where in the bulk of the burden would in fact be born by the individual and the local, or state, government. As a large group of independent states, our federal government would be able to “provide for the common defense and promote the general welfare”, not provide for the common defense and provide general welfare. It is a fine distinction, but not one I feel lost on the founding fathers. There is a fundamental difference between providing something, and promoting something.

I couldn’t vote before 1988. More-so than any national election since then, this one has caused me to look at so much more than just the candidates and their platforms or records. Our current economic and political situation is one-hundred years or more in the making. In the end, regardless of our circumstances or financial condition, who is responsible for us as individuals? We are. We are not promised a “level playing field”, not in the constitution, and not in the Bible. It is both a blessing and a curse to live within a system that provides us freedom to the extent that we can freely abdicate our individual choices and God given responsibilities.

I am under age 54. I worked in corporate America for eleven years before deciding to stay home and raise our family; and to be sure, I am not making anywhere near $1M a year. Whether they know it or not, my parents taught me the value of every soul and the value of personal hard work. It is my earnest hope that, despite the numerous factors working against us, my husband and I will teach our children the inherent nature of their individual rights and responsibilities, both their responsibilities to themselves and to others.

I have never been a government employee, or served in the military. Consequently, I am not sure that the federal government “owes” me anything. To be honest, I have never given serious consideration to my “government sponsored” retirement package. Maybe it is naive of me, but I have always assumed that I would be responsible for myself and my own retirement; and that if my husband and I are really blessed, we will be able to split our time between our four children.

I don’t know that any of the world’s problems have been solved here today, but I hope that you have been encouraged to think outside the box, to read the Constitution of the United States (and the Bill of Rights), to consider your place in this world and to contemplate God’s design for you.

National History Day

This has been a great week thus far, though it has held it’s fair share of difficulty. We have chosen to look above and beyond that, and to enjoy our time together cramped into this on-the-small-side hotel suite…. and our adventures in College Park and the nation’s capitol.

Today was certainly full. We began with a ride into Washington D.C. via the Metro (no, I didn’t know you couldn’t take your Starbuck’s with you … but I would have if I’d had enough time to consider it). We arrived early to our destination at Capitol South and went to our local congressional representative’s office. One of Mick Mulvaney’s summer interns, Katherine Hunter from Clemson, gave us a guided tour of the Capitol Building. We followed that with lunch at a local mexican restaurant amongst all the political “movers and shakers”. We then hopped back onto the train and got off in Woodley Park to visit the Smithsonian National Zoo. A few hours walking the hills in the zoo, and we were toasted …. despite the pleasant temperatures today. Back onto the train, and back out to College Park and Laurel Maryland.

#4 is passed out now and the rest are soon to follow. Tomorrow promises to be interesting. We’ll wrap it up with a private evening reception at the National Museum of American History as a precursor to Thursday’s Awards Ceremony.

Pictures soon to be forthcoming. =)

Summer Reading List ’11

Despite the fact that summer is officially several (five) weeks away, I’ve planned my slightly overly ambitious summer reading list.  It contains some new material, some classics and an old favorite.  I am hoping to make it through the stack before the end of August.  If you know what a typical day here entails for the family of six, one-room school house, that doubles as an organic mini-farm in the summer … you won’t be at all surprised if I am still at the top of the stack as the calendar turns over to September.  :-)

The Summer 2011 Stack

So, what’s in the Summer Stack 2011?

  • Watership Down, by Richard Adams   #1 will be reading this for a literature analysis during the 2011-12 school year.
  • The Ministry of Motherhood, by Sally Clarkson  This is the one I started today.  I won’t be reading this in order.  I’ve read others of Sally Clarkson’s books and am looking forward to this one.
  • A Girl of the Limberlost, by Gene Stratton-Porter  This was my grandfather’s favorite book growing up.  I never thought that I would actually find a copy, but the IU press printed it a few years ago because G. Porter was a native of Indiana.  I started this one last year, but I am looking forward to learning a little more about my grandfather and enjoying his favorite story.
  • Boys Should Be Boys, by Meg Meeker M.D.  Obviously this is true.  I think I bought this one to help me figure out exactly how that works … ha!  Good luck.  Never having been a boy, I feel I’m at a disadvantage here.
  • The Scarlet Pimpernel, by Orczy  #1 will be reading this one next year too, and I’ve always wanted to read it.  So, this year … I will.
  • The Vanishing Comrade, by Ethel Cook Eliot  This is one of my all time favorite books.  My sister found a copy for me several years ago.  When we were growing up, we only had one copy in the house and it was my mom’s.  The book was written in the ’30’s, but it is a wonderful story.  I am looking forward to reading this one again and may even read it out loud to #2.  I think it’s right up her alley.
  • The Windboy,  by Ethel Cook Elliot  Imagine my surprise when I found another book by Ms. Eliot.  I bought it on the spot at the consignment store; I don’t think the previous owner even read it.  Love the picture on the front, it reminds me of passages in The Vanishing Comrade.  Looking forward to another good story from Ms. Eliot.

What’s a Mom to do?

So … yesterday, I took a veteran homeschooler’s advice and asked my three older children what they would like to study as electives as they move into Middle School, and eventually High School.  Here is the list they compiled, in no particular order.

  • Home Ec
  • Cooking Science
  • Sewing
  • Design
  • Art History
  • Large Animal Vet Science
  • Greek (failing that …. Italian)
  • French x 2
  • Computer Science
  • Acoustic Guitar x 2
  • Flute
  • Piano
  • Typing
  • Home Design
  • Journalism
  • Sculpture
  • Woodworking
  • Landscaping/Horticulture
  • French Cooking
To make matters more interesting, the children assure me that they have forgotten some things but that it would be “okay” for me to begin here.  What was I thinking?