When An 8th Grade Was Better Than Today’s Ph. D.

November 29, 2012
1895 8th  grade final exam


What it took to get an 8th grade education in 1895…

Remember when grandparents and great-grandparents stated that they only had an 8th grade education? Well, check this out. Could any of us have passed the 8th grade in 1895?

This is the eighth-grade final exam from 1895 in Salina , Kansas , USA . It was taken from the original document on file at the Smokey Valley Genealogical Society and Library in Salina , and reprinted by the  Salina Journal.


Grammar  (Time, one hour)
1. Give nine rules for the use of capital letters.
2. Name the parts of speech and define those that have no modifications.
3. Define verse, stanza and paragraph
4. What are the principal parts of a verb? Give principal parts of ‘lie,’ ‘play,’ and ‘run.’ 
5. Define case; illustrate each case.
6 What is punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of punctuation.
7 – 10.  Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.

Arithmetic  (Time,1 hour 15 minutes)
1. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.
2. A wagon box is 2 ft. Deep, 10 feet long, and 3 ft. Wide.  How many bushels of wheat will it hold? 
3. If a load of wheat weighs 3,942 lbs., what is it worth at 50cts/bushel, deducting 1,050 lbs? For tare?
4. District No 33 has a valuation of $35,000… What is the necessary levy to carry on a school seven months at $50 per month, and have $104 for incidentals?
5. Find the cost of 6,720 lbs. Coal at $6.00 per ton.
6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 percent.
7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft…?  Long at $20 per metre?
8. Find bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at 10 percent.
9. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per acre, the distance of which is 640 rods?
10. Write a Bank Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt 

U.S.   History (Time, 45 minutes)
1. Give  the epochs into which U.S. History is  divided
2. Give an account of the discovery of America by Columbus
3. Relate the causes and results of the Revolutionary War.
4. Show the territorial growth of the United States
5. Tell what you can of the history of Kansas
6.  Describe three of the most prominent battles of the Rebellion.
7. Who were the following: Morse, Whitney, Fulton, Bell, Lincoln, Penn, and Howe?
8. Name events connected with the following dates: 1607, 1620, 1800, 1849, and 1865.

Orthography (Time, one hour)
[Do we even know what this is??]
1. What is meant by the following: alphabet, phonetic, orthography, etymology, syllabication
2. What are elementary sounds? How classified?
3. What are the following, and give examples of each:  trigraph, subvocals, diphthong, cognate letters, linguals
4. Give four substitutes for caret ‘u.’ (HUH?)
5. Give two rules for spelling words with final ‘e.’ Name two exceptions under each rule.
6. Give two uses of silent letters in spelling.  Illustrate each.

7. Define the following prefixes and use in connection with a word: bi, dis-mis, pre, semi, post, non, inter, mono, sup.
8. Mark diacritically and divide into syllables the following, and name the sign that indicates the sound: card, ball, mercy, sir, odd, cell, rise, blood, fare, last.
9. Use the following correctly in sentences: cite, site, sight, fane, fain, feign, vane, vain, vein, raze, raise, rays.
10. Write 10 words frequently mispronounced and indicate pronunciation by use of diacritical marks 
and by syllabication.

Geography  (Time, one hour)
1 What is climate? Upon what does climate depend?
2. How do you account for the extremes of climate in Kansas?
3. Of what use are rivers? Of what use is the ocean?
4.  Describe the mountains of North America
5. Name and describe the following: Monrovia, Odessa, Denver, Manitoba, Hecla, Yukon, St. Helena, Juan Fernandez, Aspinwall and Orinoco
6. Name and locate the principal trade centers of the U.S. Name all the republics of Europe and give the capital of each…
8. Why is the Atlantic Coast colder than the Pacific in the same latitude?
9.  Describe the process by which the water of the ocean returns to the sources of rivers.
10.  Describe the movements of the earth. Give the inclination of the earth.

The exam took FIVE HOURS to complete. 


 My Comments:

I heard Rush Limbaugh give some of this exam’s questions—years ago. When he said, Salina, Kansas, it got my attention. My grandmother grew up in that town. She would have graduated within a few years of 1895 (I’ll have to look up her DOB.) so she would have been asked those same questions.

But. (This is BIG but!) where is the section on religion, on Christianity? Was it left out back then, or taken out of the re-presentation recently? I ask this because our moral and intellectual decline (Never all that strong in the first place!) can be marked from the loss of the family as the center of all reality for children, religious, moral, and educational. Churches and neighborhood schools were initially only helpers to parents. At first, government schools were not in the picture at all—except in Northeastern cities, and then originally under the control of local Protestant sects.

Government school consolidated systems were created in the mistaken European belief that only government could insure a decent and smart people, “good citizens and soldiers” for the state. Never mind this belief was the anti-thesis of our Founding Fathers who believed that “only a moral and educated” We The [Free] People” could ensure liberty, prosperity, and national defense. And they meant education by the society outside of government, not by government itself. That would be a contradiction, for how could a people educated by government offer any protection against the same government that always seeks to overthrow liberty?

Perhaps the greatest lack in our constitutional era thinking was in failing to see adequately that only a society organized around a unified Christianity and culture can more-or-less permanently forcefully oppose the unseemly growth of central government. Individual families and groups of families, separated by deep religious prejudices who could get along only in surface ways, and often were split into often opposing forces by demographics that proved more powerful than their religious beliefs and practices.

All of these splintering societal forces would lead the growth of Big Government’s replacing God, and our eventual sinking, intellectually, morally, and economically.

Fueled by the likes of the practical atheist Horace Mann, early government schools were forced to offer only a “one size fits all” interpretation of Christianity — dictated by the plethora of differing Protestant beliefs—and the hatred and fear of anything smacking of Catholicism.

Thus was born the wedge that eventually to would split children off from their families and churches, all but obliterating the authority and influences of each. and lead to total eradication of anything godly from today’s monopoly, consolidated government schools. But it also destroyed their intellects—and their very souls!

Thus began, in the early 1900’s the institutionalized decline of the “elitist” notion of “learning for its own sake” (Read Richard Mitchell’s 1981 book, “The Graves Of Academe.”) and the mere preparation of children to be good factory workers. The reduction of the body of leaning in even such elite schools as Harvard and Yale between WWI and WWII is well chronicled. As all organized corruptions start at the top, it must by necessity filter down, under the influence of the likes of John Dewey, to every little red schoolhouse in America—not excluding even in Salinas, Kansas.

This is why only an ENORMOUS, and grossly undeserved, miracle from God could save this nation now. There are no more, at most ten percent of the American people who really “get it.” And I am being overly generous. Our economic decline brought on by Big Government, not some kind of runaway capitalism as the Left has sold to a majority of the stupid American public, is the RESULT not the REASON for our present discomfort. We are quickly slipping into an earthly hell because of our loss of intellect and morals. Big Government that is consuming all we have built up over more than 200 years of relative economic freedom, will soon sink our already broken in half Titanic! 

It all started when, back in the 1800’s, most parents turned their children over to secular college educated “school marms”—who, by the way, were expected to live strictly moral lives—unlike today, remain single and celebate, typically living in some women-only rooming house, and would be replaced by another like-minded young woman when said teacher got interested in marriage. In cities schools already had become part of government systems in which secular education was already systematized, such attention paid to Christianity only cursory.

Any start towards reform will come after our economic collapse when the dollar is worthless, teachers won’t get paid, and in a scramble to support their own families will work for garden produce—and forced to fairly, accurately and completely teach the Bible first, as both reading primer and first history of our peoples.

If they then teach the Early Church Fathers along with Greek and Roman histories and stoic philosophies like Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and Cicero— all children will eventually become Catholic, reform the now almost completely corrupt Church and save America by re-writing and re-establishing the Declaration and Constitution! Only then can the re-building of a free and prosperous economy begin—perhaps only after a long “dark age” period in which the faith and intellect of a new, Christian and Constitutional leader class will emerge.


Ship Of State Like a House Divided

November 12, 2012

Zombie Amerika, which like the Titanic broke in half on its way down is Sunk

The government worshiping half of America, along with millions of stolen votes, and millions who refused to participate in this sham election, voted for the Antichrist. To be sure our deep division did not begin but O’satan and his Zombie supporters, evilrich and nicepoor, of all races and nationalities —except True American, but long ago when half the populace first accepted government handouts. For they then accepted government as their god. Charity was always a work of Christians and the Church, but government pushed it aside for its own power. But it had to fool people into thinking it cared about them. Hence, we have unbridgeable gap between between those who put God first and those who have made their appetites and emotions their own god.


24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26 And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end. 27 But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house. (Mark 3:24-27)


Like the ship, Titanic, whose builder is said to have said, “Even God cannot sink it!” this nation, as it breaks in half on its way to the bottom, is doomed to a Soviet style dictatorship (forget the European model, that is also sinking!) Or, perhaps, lovers of God first and Liberty second will carve out enclaves of resistance that do not include supporting either parasites or their Big Business financiers. How we can do that only God knows.



If Electing Ron Paul is ‘Unthinkable,” so is dumping the Federal Reserve, going back to the Gold Standard, and ending the Federal Government’s War on the American Citizen!

January 6, 2012

Think of this as the start of a book on restoring and improving upon our constitutional order.

Introduction, An Unthinkable Political Agenda, and the Overton Window:

 To fix what ails America we are going to have to go deep and think the unthinkable,  to look at the fundamentals. Like any football coach of a losing team, he insists they go back to the basics. We were conceived as a nation by Christian men steeped in legal, cultural and social tradition—mostly from Great Britain. They brought and were taught certain things, and had the bitter experience of tyranny to back up their ferocious desire that this new nation be preserved for future generations in law, liberty and morality.

 Sadly, as in all human endeavors, they weren’t perfect, nor were their efforts. They knew it. Perhaps sadder still, today’s politicians do not recognize their limits, their imperfections. I believe Ron Paul “gets it” at least in part. That is why I will continue to back him until some proof as to his unfitness convinces me otherwise.

Here is why I believe Ron Paul to be the only republican candidate worthy of support, his unthinkable. political agenda for restoring our constitutional republic.

 Ron Paul is being attacked, in part because he is “extreme,” even “crazy.” Why? Because most Americans no long recognize the truth about America’s founding and how necessary it is to get back to that vision, no matter what it takes. Even conservatives are now mostly “status quo” on size of government issues. That is a hopeless stance to take. It accepts defeat, and ensures our complete destruction as a coherent society.

First this, regarding policy issues, you may recall from the Glenn Beck show he talking about the Overton Window. Go to Wikipedia for the full article:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overton_window  

My excerpt is below:

“…[T]he “window” includes a range of policies considered to be politically acceptable in the current climate of public opinion, which a politician can recommend without being considered too “extreme” or outside the mainstream to gain or keep public office. …  The degrees of acceptance of public ideas can be described roughly as:

  • Unthinkable

  • Radical

  • Acceptable

  • Sensible

  • Popular

  • Policy

Ron Paul is viewed “extreme” by many who accept the status quo regarding size and power of government, perhaps demanding the clock be set back only to 2008. Dr. Paul may accept that as a first step on spending, but only a tiny first step. His commitment to cut federal spending by $one trillion in his first year, is truly the only acceptable cut. Any less ensures disaster.

Longer term he will eliminate several departments altogether, merging any legitimate functions into others. I would go further, cutting even more. Compared to me Dr. Paul is a moderate! I would go further!

Many things Dr. Paul would cut are now “unthinkable” only because most Americans, even conservatives, do not accept that we must cut the federal government back inside the Constitution—with no exceptions!

National Sovereignty, Defense and Foreign Affairs

Most of the upset about Dr. Paul is that he is really bad on national defense and foreign policy, never mind he insists we close the border immediately and take away the illegals’ incentives to stay here as well as the openness of our borders to criminals and terrorists. Not closing our borders makes other efforts worse than useless.

Now go to Ron Paul’s own website and read the many articles discussing his issues. First, his executive summary:


About his his National Defense stance there is more confusion and disinformation than any other of his issue statements: http://www.ronpaul2012.com/the-issues/national-defense/

Where does he say to destroy Israel? What he does say, maybe not in so many words, is that national sovereignty means something. Every nation has a right to exist. Even Nazi Germany, had it not attacked other nations would have been left alone, a build up of arms near any of its borders justified neighbor nations doing the same. Sabre rattling by said warrior nation met by similar shows of force by neighbors—but only rarely should it call for a pre-emptive attack.

At what point does a threatened nation launch a pre-emptive strike? Dr. Paul has not, to my knowledge addressed that unless it is to say we, being far distant should not—especially when the threat from Iran is not clear. There are differences of opinion among “experts.” The head of Israel’s Mossad even saying that Iran is far from being a nuclear threat.

As an aside, what happened to the computer virus that supposedly wiped out Iran’s effort for at least a couple of years? How come we don’t hear anything about that now? Just asking, nothing to do with Dr. Paul—that I know of.   

All I have read and heard him say about Israel is to leave them alone to fight their own wars. How is that “destroying” them? He is for cutting all foreign aid to all nations, without playing favorites. Foreign aid has been proven to mainly prop up dictators, making poverty and oppression worse in most if not all recipient nations. If our remaining troops and bases are attacked, (Radar shows aircraft or missiles coming our way) we take action. Private citizens and businesses generally assume their own risks, but our Navy would and should take care of piracy or acts of war against American citizens and interests. I think.

We would stay out of other nations’ business, and insist they do the same.


There is much more to be said about the concept of sovereignty, starting with the individual, the family, the small community, the state and our collection of states known as the United States. By his cutting government back, ending the police and regulatory state, Dr. Paul will do more to restore our freedom to be sovereign in our own lives than any other candidate. I will have more on that in future chapters. 

If, indeed, Ron Paul is part of some dark conspiracy, I have not heard it. It is still early, for Virginians, in the process so I am always open to the truth. I, like always, await solid evidence. Then I will make up my mind and act accordingly.

No candidate is, or can be, perfect! I wish they all thought exactly like me! Then, I guess politics would get boring, rather quickly! But, Dr. Paul is, if anything, too moderate for my tastes; which is why I would never get elected to anything!

Under me, government at all levels would be forced back to perhaps one third, at the most, its present size. Its power would be even smaller, focused only on the few things allowed by federal and the best of the states’ constitutions. No welfare, healthcare, edu-care, Period! For anybody. No police state, meaning any substance you want to put in your body is nobody else’s business, unless you make a nuissance of yourself.

Think of what happened in the 1960’s. Mostly judges, but also Congress and the Executive forced away from We The People the power to require decent behaviour, nice neighborhoods and strong families, under the guise of “fairness” and against mainly “racism” but also the phony War on Poverty, then the War on Drugs. Tell me any of these things did other than destroy liberty, property and privacy?

At a minimum we would need to reverse nearly every court decision going back through the time of Lyndon Johnson, even Eisenhower, through the New Deal to the first Roosevelt’s term, and most laws and executive actions as well. In other words we need to set the legislative clock back over 100 years.

Then we have to deal with the War of Northern Aggression and the whole Reconstruction —the North’s first Nation Building program, did to the South and to state sovereignty in general.

You could even say the attack on Liberty began with the Whiskey Rebellion and the failure of We The People to, in Franklin’s words, be “vigilant” against it. Vigilant does NOT mean standing on the sidelines watching it happen. It has nearly the same Latin root as the word for “manhood” and “strength.” How dare the federal government come into my home and regulate and tax the whiskey I may produce for my own use, or to sell to neighbors? Now they regulate aspirin! Get the federal government OUT of all drugs and food, except for imports. That’s another story I’ll cover in the future.

Let localities regulate public moral behavior once again, even it it means angry mobs start lynching judge and politicians! Me? Oh boy, am I dangerous!

Mike Smith,
Chase City,

Readers can email me with comments:

or go to Michael H. Smith, my facebook page.

Ron Paul Is The ONLY Candidate Worth Electing!

January 5, 2012
More Proof, Ron Paul is the ONLY presidential candidate worth voting for! The only real Constitutionalist in the race, neo-cons are now calling Ron Paul, “Too liberal,” and “dangerous “ — maybe he’s Satan himself!

Yep, that’s what some phony conservatives say. Ron Paul is “to the left,” they say, of the present occupant of the White House. And he is “dangerous.” The more we see opinions about what candidates are—rather than their own words, the more we see the liberal mental disorder of relativism at work: “Words mean what I say, no more, no less,” according to the fairy tale Humpty Dumpty.


Malleable, candidates like Mitt Romney, can be redefined by these phonies as “closet conservative” or revealed as “secretly promoting the gay agenda” by the more honest. Not Ron Paul, a consistent constitutional conservative on all issues.


Go to Ron Paul”s website and see for yourself! He is the only republican candidate to call the Federal Reserve, “Dishonest, dangerous, immoral!” He promises to protect the contractual obligations to old people and the military,— while acknowledging that both Social Security and Medicare are unconstitutional.


Here is how he views unconstitutional spending, from his website at: http://www.ronpaul2012.com/the-issues/ron-paul-plan-to-restore-america/



Cuts $1 trillion in spending during the first year of Ron Paul’s presidency, eliminating five cabinet departments (Energy, HUD, Commerce, Interior, and Education), abolishing the Transportation Security Administration and returning responsibility for security to private property owners, abolishing corporate subsidies, stopping foreign aid, ending foreign wars, and returning most other spending to 2006 levels.”

I wish he would also cut Agriculture, (90% of which redistributes food and does not help farmers,) or Labor, never creating a single job — except for labor bosses, costing instead millions of jobs! Then FEMA, which only gets in the way of real help in emergencies, while wasting $ billions! How about FDA which has never created a single drug, but instead jails physicians for helping patients? Or the DEA and the phony Drug War, not curing a single drug addict but jailing millions, destroying property rights and banking privacy?

Let us just end the federal regulatory Police State altogether, and return police powers to the states. That is an idea to dangerous to pretend conservatives, proving themselves to be our worst enemies. What good is it to save America from foreigner enemies when we have lost our rights, our freedom, our property to domestic enemies—the U. S. Government itself and those desiring to give it even more power?
To here them tell it we will be awash in drugs and Islamic terrorists will be camped out in every back yard. Frankly, I don’t give a damn about foreign threats when our biggest is right here at home! I remember when we had at least SOME privacy, freedom and property rights. Not now. To be honest, the way this country is right now it is not worth saving! Perhaps George Soros is doing us a favor, that is if there are enough real men in America to take her back to the Christian and Free nation she once was.
Those who want to defend or attack Ron Paul or me can contact me, Mike Smith at: 715 Grovel Avenue, Chase City, Virginia 23924 434-960-5151 turkeyridge@hotmail.com for copies of Ron Paul’s issues statements, or ask your local public library personnel for help using their computers.

Michael H. Smith

H. R. 358 Defunding Planned Parenthood Just Passed 251 to 172

October 14, 2011

Here’s the link to the details: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/vote.xpd?vote=h2011-789
In my own Commonwealth of Virginia two democrat “Catholics,” James Moran and Gerald Connolly voted to keep PP being subsidized by taxpayers to shred babies! Are they in “good standing” with bishop Loverde of Arlington? Why not call him and ask?


September 11, 2011

America is hooked on Big Government. Even if the political class can be pursuaded it must done, it will take a full generation to get ordinary citizens  unhooked.

Even before Obama is kicked out of the White House on January 20, 2013 the majority republicans in the House of Representatives could start the process by defunding unconstitutional and destructive Executive Branch activities and begin impeachment charges for treason and criminal activity against both the Chief Executive, many of his political appointees, and federal judges who routinely trash the Constitution. The Senate will not convict but the publicity can do nothing but help the conservative cause.

The House has the sole power to refuse to write the checks for any department or program it desires. In the words of one former congressman, “All they can do is whine.” A Trillion Dollars or more must be cut from this years budget. When the budget has grown more than One and a Half Trillions since 2008 it should not be difficult. And cuts do not have to touch curent spending on Medicare and Social Security, while keeping our commitments to our veterans as well. Nor do defense or other core, constitutional spending have to be cut.

1. End all unconstitutional federal government activity–some immediately, much over several years, only help for seniors will take 25 years, until we are all dead. Young people will have to start saving for their own retirement and old age illness.

2. Entire departments for which the plain language of the Constitution give no authority, such as Labor, Agricultural, Education, Housing and Urban Development, could have spending all but eliminated and save us at least a half-Trillion. The small amount of each department’s activity that is constitutional could be handed over to other departments.

3. Half the federal workforce does little or nothing but get in the way of the half that do work. The average federal employee costs the taxpayer twice as much as those doing comparable work in the private workforce. The total cost of the federal payroll could therefore be cut in half almost immediately. Tougher workrules could ensure the remaining employees had to work for their pay.

4. Defund all activity relating to labor law enforcement, to free up private employers who are now treated like criminals, to hire again. The EEOC, OSHA, Americans with Disabilities Act, and the 1964 Civil Rights Act all must be abolished. But for now they can be defunded. They are all unconstitutional and destructive of liberty.

More soon…

ECONOMICS 101: All you’ll ever need to know!

November 6, 2010

This is only the first of economics articles I will post.

Being 500 years behind on economic theory is inexusable. The damage caused in the last 100 years incalculable.

Mr. Rockwell in this, the first of his articles I will post,reminds conservatives that many in their ranks have uncomprehendidly held onto to some obsolete, incomplete and downright prejudiced notions of economic theory, based more on the emotion of “how I’d like things to be” rather than how things have actually worked, based on empirical data reaching back to when economics was first studied as a proto-science by the mostly Spanish 16th century scholars.

500 years of ignorance is enough. No more bad theory from nice people can be tolerated.

I hope and pray that you will take to heart the foundation principles elucidated herein and preach them to everyone who will listen, and many who will not! MS

Here is the link:


And the article:

The World of Salamanca
By Lew Rockwell
View all 22 articles by Lew Rockwell
Published 10/28/10

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This is a formal version of a speech given on October 24, 2009, at the Birthplace of Economic Theory conference in Salamanca, Spain.

The subject of the medieval period highlights the vast gulf that separates scholarly opinion from popular opinion. This is a grave frustration for scholars who have been working to change popular opinion for a hundred years. For most people, the medieval period brings to mind populations living by myths and crazy superstitions such as we might see in a Monty Python skit. Scholarly opinion, however, knows otherwise. The age between the 8th and 16th centuries was a time of amazing advance in every area of knowledge, such as architecture, music, biology, mathematics, astronomy, industry, and — yes — economics.

One might think it would be enough to look at the Burgos Cathedral of St. Mary, begun in 1221 and completed nine years later, to know there is something gravely wrong with the popular wisdom.

The popular wisdom comes through in the convention among nonspecialists to trace the origins of promarket thinking to Adam Smith (1723–1790). The tendency to see Smith as the fountainhead of economics is reinforced among Americans, because his famed book An Inquiry into the Nature and the Causes of the Wealth of Nations was published in the year America seceded from Britain.

There is much this view of intellectual history overlooks. The real founders of economic science actually wrote hundreds of years before Smith. They were not economists as such, but moral theologians, trained in the tradition of St. Thomas Aquinas, and they came to be known as the Late Scholastics. These men, most of whom taught in Spain, were at least as pro–free market as the much-later Scottish tradition. Plus, their theoretical foundation was even more solid: they anticipated the theories of value and price of the “marginalists” of late 19th-century Austria.

The scholar who rediscovered the Late Scholastics for the English-speaking world was Raymond de Roover (1904–1972). For years, they had been ridiculed and sloughed off, and even called presocialists in their thought. Karl Marx was the “last of the Schoolmen,” wrote R. H. Tawney. But de Roover demonstrated that nearly all the conventional wisdom was wrong (Julius Kirchner ed., Business, Banking, and Economic Thought [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1974]).

Joseph Schumpeter gave the Late Scholastics a huge boost with his posthumously published 1954 book, History of Economic Analysis (New York: Oxford University Press). “It is they,” he wrote, “who come nearer than does any other group to having been the ‘founders’ of scientific economics.”

About the same time, there appeared a book of readings put together by Marjorie Grice-Hutchinson (The School of Salamanca [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1952]), recently republished by the Mises Institute. A full-scale interpretive work appeared later (Early Economic Thought in Spain, 1177–1740 [London: Allen & Unwin, 1975]).

In our own time, Alejandro Chafuen (Christians for Freedom [San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1986]) linked the Late Scholastics closely with the Austrian School. In the fullest and most important treatment to date, Murray N. Rothbard’s An Austrian Perspective on the History of Economic Thought (London: Edward Elgar, 1995) presents the extraordinarily wide range of Late Scholastic thought. Rothbard offers an explanation for the widespread misinterpretation of the School of Salamanca, along with an overarching framework of the intersection between economics and religion from St. Thomas through to the mid-19th century.

What emerges from this growing literature is an awareness that the medieval period was the founding period of economics.

One must recall the opening words of Mises’s own Human Action here. “Economics is the youngest of all sciences,” he announces. “Economics opened to human science a domain previously inaccessible and never thought of.”

And what did economics contribute? Mises explains that economics discovered “a regularity in the sequence and interdependence of market phenomena.” In so doing, “it conveyed knowledge which could be regarded neither as logic, mathematics, psychology, physics, nor biology.”

Let me pause here with some comments on those who reject outright economics as a science. This tendency is not limited to the Left who embrace the fantasy called socialism, nor the environmentalists who think that society should revert to the status of a hunting and gathering tribe. I’m thinking in particular of a group that we might call conservatives. People who believe that all they need to know about reality and truth is contained in the writings of the ancient philosophers, the Church fathers, or some other time-tested source, whereas anything modern — defined as anything written in the latter half of the 2nd millennium of Christianity — is generally seen as suspect.

This tendency is widespread on the American Right, and extends to the Straussians, the communitarians, the paleoconservatives, and the religious conservatives. There are examples among them all. To seek economic wisdom, they brush aside everything of the last 500 years, and return again and again to the writings of early saints, of Plato and Aristotle, and to words of wisdom from many other revered nonmoderns.

Now, in these writings one can discover great truths. However, it is simply not the case that one can find rigorous economic logic. The writings of this period tend to be imbued with a bias against the merchant, a fallacy about the equality of value in exchange, and a general lack of conviction that there exists a persistent logic for understanding the development of the market.

Mises was right: the development of economics began much later, and the reason for this is rather straightforward. The appearance of widespread economic opportunity, social mobility driven by material status, the dramatic expansion of the division of labor across many borders, and the building of complex capital structures only began to be observed in the late Middle Ages. It was the appearance of the rudimentary structures of modern capitalism that gave rise to the curiosity about economic science. To put it quite simply, it was in the late Middle Ages that there appeared to be something to study at all.

It was in this period on the Continent that we began to see what was previously unheard of: large swaths of the population began to grow rich. Wealth was no longer limited to kings and princes. It was not available only to merchants and bankers. Workers and peasants too could increase their standard of living, make choices about where to live, and acquire clothing and food once reserved for the nobility. In addition, monetary institutions were increasingly complex, with a variety of exchange rates, pressures to permit the paying and charging of interest, and complex investment transactions making their way into daily life.

It was particularly interesting to see wealth being generated in financial services. People who were doing nothing other than arbitraging exchange rates were growing enormously rich and influential. These were people who, in the words of Saravia de la Calle, were “traveling from fair to fair and from place to place with [their] table and boxes and books.” And yet their wealth grew and grew. This gave rise to the scientific question of how this was happening. And it also gave rise to the broadest forms of moral questions.

What exactly is the status of the merchant in moral theology? How should this form of moneymaking be regarded by society and the Church? These sorts of questions cried out for answers.

Now let us understand a bit more about the Scholastic mind as shaped in the tradition of St. Thomas. At the root of the Thomist worldview was a conviction that all truth was unified into a single body of thought, and that this truth ultimately pointed to the Author of all truth. Insofar as science was seeking truth, the truth that they found was necessarily reconcilable with other existing truths.

In this way, they saw the idea of truth as operating very much like mathematics. It was integrated from the lowest and most fundamental form to the highest and more elaborate form. If there was a contradiction or a failure to link a higher truth to a lower truth, one could know with certainty that there was something going wrong.

So knowledge was not parceled out and segmented the way it is today. Today, students go to classes on math, literature, economics, and building design, and don’t expect to find any links among the disciplines. I’m quite certain that it would never occur to them to try. It is just an accepted aspect of the positivist program that knowledge need not be integrated.

We must all exist in a state of suspended skepticism about everything, and be buffeted about randomly by the latest ideological fad that seems to have some scientific support. The conviction that small truth is related to large truth has been eviscerated.

It is sometimes said that the Scholastic’s attitude toward truth made them skeptical toward scientific inquiry. Indeed, the very opposite is true. Their convictions concerning integral truth made them utterly fearless. There was no aspect of life that should escape serious scholarship investigation and exploration.

No matter the findings, if they were true, the investigation could be seen as part of the larger mission of discovering more about God’s own creation. There could be no such thing as a dichotomy between science and religion, so one need not hesitate to discover more about either or both.

It is not precisely correct to say that the Late Scholastic thinkers who discovered economics were exploring theological territory and stumbled inadvertently upon economics. They were in fact intensely curious about the logic that governs relations among choices and people in the marketplace, and they looked at this subject without feeling the need to point constantly to theological truth. The relationship between economics and theology was assumed to be a part of the scholarly enterprise itself, and this is why the Late Scholastics could write with such precision on economic subjects.

As Spain, Portugal, and Italy emerged as centers of commerce and enterprise in the 15th and 16th centuries, the universities under the control of the late Thomists spawned a great project of investigating the regular patterns that governed economic life. I would like to present some of these thinkers and their work.

Francisco de Vitoria

The first of the moral theologians to research, write, and teach at the University of Salamanca was Francisco de Vitoria (1485–1546). Under his guidance, the university offered an extraordinary 70 professorial chairs. As with other great mentors in history, most of Vitoria’s published work comes to us in the form of notes taken by his students.

In Vitoria’s work on economics, he argued that the just price is the price that has been arrived at by common agreement among producers and consumers. That is, when a price is set by the interplay of supply and demand, it is a just price.

So it is with international trade. Governments should not interfere with the prices and relations established between traders across borders. Vitoria’s lectures on Spanish-Indian trade — originally published in 1542 and again in 1917 by the Carnegie Endowment — argued that government intervention with trade violates the Golden Rule.

He also contributed to liberalizing the rule against charging and paying interest. This discussion helped sow a great deal of confusion among theologians of precisely what constituted usury, and this confusion was highly welcome to entrepreneurs. Vitoria was also very careful to take supply and demand into account when analyzing currency exchange.

Yet Vitoria’s greatest contribution was producing gifted and prolific students. They went on to explore almost all aspects, moral and theoretical, of economic science. For a century, these thinkers formed a mighty force for free enterprise and economic logic.

They regarded the price of goods and services as an outcome of the actions of traders. Prices vary depending on the circumstance, and depending on the value that individuals place on goods. That value in turn depends on two factors: the goods’ availability and their use. The price of goods and services are a result of the operation of these forces. Prices are not fixed by nature, or determined by the costs of production; prices are a result of the common estimation of men.

Domingo de Soto

Domingo de Soto (1494–1560) was a Dominican priest who became a professor of philosophy at Salamanca. He held powerful positions with the emperor, but chose the academic life. He made important advances in the theory of interest, arguing for a general liberalization.

He was also the architect of the purchasing-parity theory of exchange. He wrote as follows:

The more plentiful money is in Medina the more unfavorable are the terms of exchange, and the higher the price that must be paid by whoever wishes to send money from Spain to Flanders, since the demand for money is smaller in Spain than in Flanders. And the scarcer money is in Medina the less he need pay there, because more people want money in Medina than are sending it to Flanders.

With these words, he had taken large steps toward justifying the profit that comes from currency arbitrage. It was not by chance that currency valuations come to be; they reflect certain facts on the ground, and the choices of people in light of real scarcities.

He continues:

It is lawful to exchange money in one place for money in another having regard to its scarcity in the one and abundance in the other, and to receive a smaller sum in a place where money is scarce in exchange for a larger where it is abundant.

Martin de Azpilcueta Navarrus

Another student was Martin de Azpilcueta Navarrus (1493–1586), a Dominican friar, the most prominent canon lawyer of his day, and eventually the adviser to three successive popes. Using reasoning, Navarrus was the first economic thinker to state clearly and unequivocally that government price-fixing is a mistake. When goods are plentiful, there is no need for a set maximum price; when they are not, price control does more harm than good.

In a 1556 manual on moral theology, Navarrus pointed out that it is not a sin to sell goods at higher than the official price when it is agreed to among all parties. Navarrus was also the first to fully state that the quantity of money is a main influence in determining its purchasing power.

“Other things being equal,” he wrote in his Commentary on Usury, “in countries where there is a great scarcity of money, all other saleable goods, and even the hands and labor of men, are given for less money than where it is abundant.” He is generally regarded as the first thinker to observe that the high cost of living is related to the quantity of money.

For a currency to settle at its correct price in terms of other currencies, it is traded at a profit — an activity which was controversial among some theorists on moral grounds. But Navarrus argued that it was not against natural law to trade currencies. This was not the primary purpose of money, but “it is nonetheless an important secondary use.”

He used another market good for an analogy. The purpose of shoes, he said, is to protect our feet, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be traded at a profit. In his view, it would be a terrible mistake to shut down foreign exchange markets, as some people were urging. The result “would be to plunge the realm into poverty.”

Diego de Covarrubias y Leiva

The greatest student of Navarrus was Diego de Covarrubias y Leiva (1512–1577), considered the best jurist in Spain since Vitoria. The emperor made him chancellor of Castile, and he eventually became the bishop of Segovia. His book Variarum (1554) was then the clearest explanation on the source of economic value. “The value of an article,” he said, “does not depend on its essential nature but on the estimation of men, even if that estimation is foolish.”

For this reason, the justness of a price is not dictated by how much the item costs or how much labor went into acquiring it. All that matters is what the common market value is in the place and at the time it is sold.

Prices fall when buyers are few and rise when buyers are many. It seems like such a simple point, but it was missed by economists for centuries until the Austrian School rediscovered this “subjective theory of value” and incorporated it into microeconomics.

Like all of these Spanish theorists, Covarrubias believed that individual owners of property had inviolable rights to that property. One of many controversies of the time was whether plants that produce medicines ought to belong to the community. Those who said they should pointed out that the medicine is not a result of any human labor or skill. But Covarrubias said everything that grows on a plot of land should belong to the owner of the land. That owner is even entitled to withhold valuable medicines from the market, and it is a violation of the natural law to force him to sell.

Luis de Molina

Another great economist in the Vitoria line of thinkers was Luis de Molina (1535–1601), who was among the first of the Jesuits to think about theoretical economic topics. Though devoted to the Salamancan School and its achievement, Molina taught in Portugal at the University of Coimbra. He was the author of a five-volume treatise De Justitia et Jure (1593 and following). His contributions to law, economics, and sociology were enormous, and his treatise went through several editions.

Among all the pro–free market thinkers of his generation, Molina was most consistent in his view of economic value. Like the other Late Scholastics, he agreed that goods are valued not “according to their nobility or perfection” but according “to their ability to serve human utility.” But he provided this compelling example: Rats, according to their nature, are more “noble” (higher up the hierarchy of Creation) than wheat. But rats “are not esteemed or appreciated by men” because “they are of no utility whatsoever.”

The use value of a particular good is not fixed between people or over the passage of time. It changes according to individual valuations and availability.

This theory also explains peculiar aspects of luxury goods. For example, why would a pearl, “which can only be used to decorate,” be more expensive than grain, wine, meat, or horses? It appears that all these things are more useful than a pearl, and they are certainly more “noble.” As Molina explained, valuation is done by individuals, and “we can conclude that the just price for a pearl depends on the fact that some men wanted to grant it value as an object of decoration.”

A similar paradox that befuddled the classical economists was the diamond-water paradox. Why should water, which is more useful, be lower in price than diamonds? Following Scholastic logic, it is due to individual valuations and their interplay with scarcity. The failure to understand this point led Adam Smith, among others, off in the wrong direction.

But Molina understood the crucial importance of free-floating prices and their relationship to enterprise. Partly, this was due to Molina’s extensive travels and interviews with merchants of all sorts.

“When a good is sold in a certain region or place at a certain price,” he observed, so long as it is “without fraud or monopoly or any foul play,” then “that price should be held as a rule and measure to judge the just price of said good in that region or place.” If the government tries to set a price that is higher or lower, then it would be unjust. Molina was also the first to show why it is that retail prices are higher than wholesale prices: consumers buy in smaller quantities and are willing to pay more for incremental units.

The most sophisticated writings of Molina concerned money and credit. Like Navarrus before him, he understood the relationship of money to prices, and knew that inflation resulted from a higher money supply.

“Just as the abundance of goods causes prices to fall,” he wrote (specifying that this assumes the quantity of money and number of merchants remain the same), so too does an “abundance of money” cause prices to rise (again, ceteris paribus). He even went further to point out how wages, income, and even dowries eventually rise in the same proportion to which the money supply increases.

He used this framework to push out the accepted bounds of charging interest, or “usury,” a major sticking point for most economists of this period. He argued that it should be permissible to charge interest on any loan involving an investment of capital, even when the return doesn’t materialize.

Molina’s defense of private property rested on the belief that property is secured in the commandment, “thou shalt not steal.” But he went beyond his contemporaries by making strong practical arguments as well. When property is held in common, he said, it won’t be taken care of and people will fight to consume it. Far from promoting the public good, when property is not divided, the strong people in the group will take advantage of the weak by monopolizing and consuming the most resources.

Like Aristotle, Molina also thought that common ownership of property would guarantee the end of liberality and charity. But he went further to argue that “alms should be given from private goods and not from the common ones.”

In most writings on ethics and sin today, different standards apply to government than to individuals. But not in the writings of Molina. He argued that the king can, as king, commit a variety of mortal sins. For example, if the king grants a monopoly privilege to some, he violates the consumers’ right to buy from the cheapest seller. Molina concluded that those who benefit are required by moral law to offset the damages they cause.

Vitoria, Navarrus, Covarrubias, de Soto, and Molina were five of the most important among more than a dozen extraordinary thinkers who had solved difficult economic problems long before the classical period of economics.

Trained in the Thomist tradition, they used logic to understand the world around them, and looked for institutions that would promote prosperity and the common good. It is hardly surprising, then, that many of the Late Scholastics were passionate defenders of the free market and liberty.

The Austrian Tradition

Ideas are like capital in the following sense: we take them for granted, but in fact they are the work of many generations. In the case of economic logic, it was the work of hundreds of years. Once understood, economics becomes part of the way we think about the world. If we don’t understand it, many aspects of the way the world works continue to elude our vision and grasp.

It is striking how much of the knowledge of the Late Scholastics was lost over the centuries. Britain had remained something of an outpost in this area, due to language and geography, but the Continental tradition developed apace, in particular in France in the 18th and 19th centuries.

But it is especially striking that the major resurgence of Scholastic ideas came out of Austria in the late 19th century, a country that had avoided a revolutionary political or theological upheaval. If we look at Menger’s own teachers, we find successors to the Scholastic tradition.

Mises wrote that economics is a new science and he was right about that, but the discipline is no less true for being so. Those who obstinately avoid its teaching are not only denying themselves a pipeline to truth, they are in active denial of reality, and this is no basis for recommending any way forward.

As for those modern economists who are stuck in the positivist-planning mode, they too have much to learn from the School of Salamanca, whose members would not have been fooled by the fallacies that dominate modern economic theory and policy today. If only our modern understanding could once again arrive at the high road paved for us more than 400 years ago. Just as the cathedrals of old retain their integrity, beauty, and stability, the Austrian School, as a descendent of the ideas of Salamanca, remains with us to speak an integrated truth, regardless of the intellectual fashions of our day.

Copyright © 2010 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.
Also by Lew Rockwell :
The Mystery of FDR Unravelled 10/25/10
The Killing and Reviving of the American Dream 10/12/10
Reality Economics 09/07/10
The New Push for a Global Currency 08/06/10
Down with the Rich, Again? 07/26/10
View all 22 articles by Lew Rockwell


July 30, 2010

For American Founders, the basics were first and foremost their heritage in the development of  English law, of Christian culture, and the Bible. They were well read in both classic and modern (for their day) literature regarding man, his purpose and place in the world and his relationship with government. They were thus armed to create this, so far un-repeatable, experiment in ordered liberty.

Do you find it odd, as I do, that no country, that I am aware of, has yet adopted even our form of government, opting instead for parliamentary systems instead? Nor has any put in place such severe restrictions upon what their national government could do, nor created the degree of federalism we had at our founding and for at least the next 87 years. The Founders knew it would not last, as indeed it has not, unless men were concerned for their eternal salvation– for no mere earthly restraint will long work. Such men needed to be well informed, and “eternally vigilant” — ready to strike out at usurpers of power at the first hint. That it has lasted only in part for as long as it has is indeed a miracle. That we and previous generations have let it go should not surprise any student of history. It was great while it lasted! What to do now?

Do we go out with a bang or a whimper? Growing numbers of otherwise thoughtful and responsible conservatives are suggesting that economic and social collapse are inevitable—- followed by civil war and attempts by foreign powers to invade and/or take over by other means our assets and influence in the world, that these United States could then likely break up into several “new nations” each too weak to hold out against worldly forces arrayed against us.  Or we could face a slower decline, as many say— like that of the European Union, ending in— who knows what? Likely, civil war and the above scenario. Only it would be put off for a few years or decades. Most of us would be dead by then, living enslaved in the meantime.

Me? I prefer the bang to the whimper. There is nothing I hate more than the slow decline of anything. Old houses being left to the elements to eventually fall down. Or nations. I’d much rather go out in style, as a free man— even if blown to bits! That is why fighting for liberty, even if a hopeless cause is preferable to a live of increasing slavery and hopelessness. Nothing so sharpens the wits as bullets flying at you. And nothing is so stultifying, soul destroying as a Soviet style existence, waiting in line for a few scraps of bread— or medical care! “In the long run, we are all dead” anyway.

One thing sure, not in the lifetime of even my grand children will this experiment in liberty likely be reproduced anywhere on earth. We are indeed the “last great hope” on earth!

What we have now is gone bad. Unsustainable. Due to collapse soon. The only way we can stave off either the bang or the whimper is through a supreme and uncompromising effort, using the political machinery at our disposal, to not only thwart the efforts of Obama, et al, but also to reverse the long trend into unconstitutional government. The entire welfare state must go, along with the bureaucratic police state, and the endless foreign interventions. We must go all the way back to the Constitutional limits on government or we will end up only temporarily, perhaps half-way back up the slippery slope, only putting off for a time the inevitable.

We can stand alone on top of the world once again, through our vast economic power and the threat of our military power, not having to use it and not trying to re-make other nations in our image. Most of all is (or was) our spiritual power as the last great bastion of Christianity against the Pagan secularization of the world. To succeed we will have to defeat liberals, the Democrat Party, the Ruling Class in both parties, secularists among republicans conservatives and Tea Party secularists. Not only are freedom, peace and prosperity here on earth at stake but our eternal destiny as well.


It’s over…

July 17, 2010

Went to a meeting yesterday. Nice folks. Sincere. Well meaning. Trying to help Southside Virginia get back on its economic feet. One problem. Of the 100 or so there, 95% were government. The rest enthralled by government. The solution to every problem is government. Government grants. Government tax breaks. Government organizing and coordination. The biggest problem was budget cutbacks.

I didn’t challenge them directly. I hate to attack someone’s religion. What I could have said was, Look. If you took the energy represented by you in this room, the taxpayer money you command, and turn it back to taxpayers to spend as they wish it would improve the economy, growing investment and creating jobs, and you would be out of work. But only temporarily, as the expanding economy would quickly put more of us to work.

Get rid of the entire apparatus, all the Economic Development Departments in the Commonwealth, all of the trade missions, etc., etc., ad nauseum and the money saved would probably allow us to get rid of the corporate income tax — and make Virginia truly the best place to do business!

Jobs would be real jobs, not subsidized directly or indirectly. Phony jobs created since they started bribing Big Business with our tax money, are mostly if not totally gone. If a job has to depend upon subsidy it cannot last longer than the subsidy—subject to the political whim.

A free market job depends on performance in the free market, not any arbitrary government action. If you think government decisions are superior to private ones then welcome to the Soviet Union!

Until we give up the addiction to Big Government we will continue a downward slide!

Unless Americans get over their addiction of Big Government, a prospect that seems extremely unlikely given the atmosphere in that room, then we are sunk! Welcome to the NUSSR, The New U. S. S. R.

Defend America, get punished!

October 29, 2009
REQUIREMENTS for Candidates for the 2010 CONGRESS1. I ___________________pledge to sponsor and support legislation to  end the second guessing that have become rampant among the bureaucrats in the Defense Department; To  investigate all trumped up charges against U. S. Military defending themselves and their units, Those found not guilty by Congress will by granted full reversals, have all rank and pay restored with interest, all legal bills will be paid, if they suffer any economic loss they will be double reimbursed, any personal paid and suffering including divorce, loss of family, jobs, respect of peers, difficulty of getting a job or enjoying any benefits of citizenship will trigger payments of up to One Million Dollars- paid out of budgets of offending institutions. Offending military, bureaucrats or judges will be punished civilly and possibly criminally depending upon severity of their persecution.

Why am I looking to the next Congress?

I got this from The Washington Times:

From: Richard Thompson, Thomas More Law Center

Dear American Patriot,

Marine LtCol Jeffrey Chessani refused to throw his men under the bus to save his career.  So the government is doing everything it can to grind him up.

He urgently needs your help.

He served three tours of duty in Iraq, including the Second Battle of Fallujah.  He also served in Panama and in the First Persian Gulf War.  He honorably served his country as a Marine officer for over 20 years.His superiors considered him a superb leader who demonstrated moral courage with unlimited potential and value to the Marine Corps.

Despite all of this, on December 1, 2009, LtCol Chessani will face a Military Board of Inquiry to determine whether he is guilty of misconduct and should be demoted in rank because of the so-called “Haditha Massacre” – a massacre everyone now knows never happened.

The bogus criminal charges against LtCol Chessani were triggered by a fierce house-to-house, room-by-room combat action taken by four of his enlisted Marines after insurgents in Haditha, Iraq ambushed their convoy on November 19, 2005. The rest of the story below.LtCol Chessani was first criminally charged with failing to accurately report and investigate that incident. Essentially, the government said he did not file the proper paperwork.  Pretty lame!  Yet, had it convicted him, he would have faced 2½ years in prison.

The government lost at every stage of the criminal process.

Because it couldn’t win in a court of law, the government has now ordered a Board of Inquiry to decide LtCol Chessani’s fate. This is the government’s clever way to “finish off” LtCol Chessani without having to follow normal court rules.

LtCol Paul Ware, USMC, a military judge who heard testimony in one of the cases involving the November 19th Haditha incident, had this to say about the government’s case:

“To believe the government version of facts is to disregard clear and convincing evidence to the contrary and sets a dangerous precedent that, in my opinion, may encourage others to bear false witness against Marines as a tactic to erode public support of the Marine Corps and mission in Iraq. Even more dangerous is the potential that a Marine may hesitate at the critical moment when facing the enemy…

The Board could force LtCol Chessani to retire and be demoted in rank. Aside from the obvious disgrace to one of our most effective combat commanders, this would cost him and his family huge losses in retirement pay and benefits.

For a man and family that dedicated their lives to the defense of our great nation – you and I cannot allow this to happen.

A Board of Inquiry finding of misconduct will not only be a tragedy for LtCol Chessani and his family, but for all our troops the government places in harm’s way.

Your generous financial support can help end this personal tragedy and injustice to Jeffrey Chessani and his family… and insure the future of America’s fighting spirit.

Please forward to your Family & Friends here.

Please visit TMLC’s website by clicking here to subscribe to News Alerts and read more details about LtCol Chessani’s case.

If you prefer to mail your donation to the Thomas More Law Center, please mail to:

Thomas More Law Center

24 Frank Lloyd Wright Drive

PO Box 364

Ann Arbor, MI 48106

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