If you were to name the greatest threat to American freedom, what would it be? The lack of responsibility coming out of Washington D.C.? The trashing of the Constitution by each successive administration? An increasing entitlement mentality among the citizenry?
Bill Heid and today’s guest on Off the Grid Radio, Tom Woods, posit another theory – that ignorance is the greatest threat to our freedom, and that we need to reeducate our citizens with the truth of history and the free market. However, we’re not going to get the discussion we need in our traditional government-funded schools.
Tom Woods is a senior fellow in history at the Ludwig von Mises Institute, the author of eleven books, and founder of Liberty Classroom.
Off The Grid Radio
Release Date January 10, 2013
Bill: And greetings and welcome, everybody, to 2013, to Off The Grid Radio. I’m Bill Heid and my guest today is Thomas Woods. Tom is a senior fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute, creator of Tom Woods Liberty Classroom as well. He holds a bachelors degree from Harvard, his masters from Columbia. He is the author of eleven books and the most recent of which is Rollback: Repealing Big Government Before the Coming Fiscal Collapse. I want to talk to him a little bit today about is it too late? Tom, welcome.
Tom: My pleasure. Thanks.
Bill: Hey, let’s talk a little bit about… You’re the author of eleven books and you’ve always got this culturally minded center point with respect to economics, which differentiates you a little bit from a lot of libertarians. And I don’t know if you get this kind of question a lot but how would you say maybe your big view of world and culture differs from other libertarians, say like maybe somebody like a Doug Casey or a Lew Rockwell?
Tom: Well, I do feel quite a bit of a kinship with Lew Rockwell and I think Doug Casey is excellent on a great many things. I love those guys. I wouldn’t say my differences with them are terribly great but I would say that I do find myself in some disagreement with some libertarians who seem to think that the more freakish and antibourgeois they can make libertarianism seem, the better and then they go around spending their time criticizing everybody else for why more people aren’t libertarians. They make it as unpalatable and weird as they possibly can. And my strategy has been exactly the opposite. It’s just to show that it’s basically just the application of common sense to real world problems and you don’t have to be on drugs or be a hippie or whatever. We welcome you if you are a hippie. There is no problem with that. But it’s also for people who drive minivans and have a lot of kids, as I do.
Bill: So the tent’s pretty big. I guess the reason I asked that question is I guess I find myself in your place, in some respects defending the church historically in coming up with some values. If you say… Like if you and Doug Casey are sitting, having coffee, for example and you say, “Hey, what’s the basic metanarrative of the universe?” Doug’s going to say, “I’ve got these personal ideas that I think are pretty important.” You’re going to say something a little different because you’ve got some transcendent position to place your footing when you go to argue about where freedom has come from, where rights come from.
Tom: I would say that there has hardly been a libertarian conference that I have attended that has not, in the after hours, devolved into a debate over the existence of God. It just seems to… This is going to be going on long after I’m gone. It just seems to be part of the territory and… I remember there was one incident some years ago. I was at a conference and afterward this question came up and we had four or five atheists debating one Christian philosopher and they thought they were just going to make quick work of this guy. And I sat and watched this. This went on for two hours. And by the end… Well, it turned out that it was the one Christian philosopher who was the one making the inroads. By the end, they were all walking back to the hotel together, all asking him “Well, what can we read? What books do you recommend?” I mean it was incredible.
So yeah, I… I guess it does annoy me… I mean if people have an informed opinion on something, I can respect that. But what annoys me is that when I encounter a lot of let’s say 18-year-old libertarians who have strong feelings about “organized religion”—ooh, the big, bad bogeyman—and yet I find that what have they read? I mean have they read any of the classical texts on this subject? Have they read any of the relevant portions of Thomas Aquinas’s Summa? Have they…? I mean are they entitled to an opinion on any of this? Well, almost never. But the assumption is that you are probably just some stupid dupe or idiot if you believe in this stuff because really, it’s the same thing as believing in the flying spaghetti monster.
I really lose my patience on this because I feel like if you are going to mouth-off about something and you are completely unaware of and have had absolutely zero interaction with any of the relevant ideas, then you’re basically acting like the people you criticize in every other situation. You criticize people for talking about the fed without really knowing about the fed. Or they talk about the economy and they don’t really know about the economy. But somehow it’s okay to talk all about the most important questions of man’s existence without really having done anything other than watch one YouTube. So this is why I—for the most part—when I want to talk about these subjects, I talk about them in public speeches; I talk about them one on one with people but I avoid talking about them on the internet. I have found it to be utterly unproductive.
Bill: Sure. I guess the reason it’s so important is… In other words, if I say… If the basis of a debate or if we sort of predicate like—and I would consider myself in the same camp that you do—I would call myself a libertarian but I would believe that there is some transcendent moral law. In other words… But if you say something to one of our libertarian friends who is not unlike what you’ve just described and you say back to them “Well, what is your basis?” In other words, if you say, “Thou shalt not steal” to Sammy—Uncle Sammy—where do you…? What’s the basis for that idea? Is it just something you believe that moment? Is it something that you might believe differently tomorrow if you have something different to eat? I mean is it convention? What is it for you to say that the government shouldn’t take more of what we have? I mean where does that come from? What’s the stuff from which you argue that position as a libertarian? I just… I can never figure out… I mean I understand your writings and I understand my own thought system. In other words, if I say there is a transcendent law, then I’ve got something. If God says, “Hey, don’t steal,” then that’s a universal that has applications for me to you; it has applications from business to business; it has applications from government down to a little peon like myself. So…
Tom: Well, I will say in defense of secular arguments on questions like this that what one can find—some fairly well developed positions that don’t involve any reference to questions of God. So for example, Murray Rothbard or Hans Hoppe, who are two of the great libertarian theorists—one deceased and one living—both basically took the position that you could derive… or at least certainly Rothbard took the position that you could derive moral laws through the proper exercise of reason and he, for example, developed the idea… He was obviously not the first one to do so but he really drew out the implications of the idea that people own themselves. And now we hear this… I mean I think some religious people hear this and they cringe. “Well, you don’t really own yourself. God owns you.” But I don’t think that’s a good objection, by the way because strictly speaking, God owns everything. He owns all the land. He owns all the…
Bill: Sure. Sure.
Tom: And we don’t have any problem saying, “I own this land.” Nobody comes up to you and say, “Oh, well wait a minute. How dare you say that? God owns that land.” Well, you know what I mean. Shorthand, on this Earth, I am the one who can exercise control over it and so Rothbard goes through various proofs as to why this is the only possible position that doesn’t involve you in absurdities and contradictions. So it can be done. It’s just that the reason that I think… Just from a practical point of view—and I never argue religion from a practical point of view—I don’t argue it because it works or because it’s nice but I will say that the question of “Why should I do the right thing when nobody is looking and when I could get away with doing the wrong thing?” is, I think… It’s not an impossible question for a secularist to ask and answer but I think it’s a difficult one.
Bill: I think it’s a difficult one too and I think for me, when I discuss this kind of thing with people—and I knew Murray Rothbard, by the way, who was what I would consider a great man and it’s one of the things that we would talk about—but I think it’s just difficult because I would just simply say, “Well, that sounds like that’s what you believe” but it never really seemed to me like there is traction outside. You can say, “That’s pragmatic.” You can say, “That’s my subjective belief.” And I’d say, “Well Murray, isn’t that something that you believe that I don’t? I believe that we can steal from each other so go have a nice day.” And it just never seemed like it had a lot of traction in my mind but I think it is important.
Tom: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
Bill: So let’s talk… Here we are… If you look at the book Rollback, which I think people should read, right already at the beginning—and this is… When did you write this book, in 2011?
Tom: Well, it came out… It came out about two years ago—yeah.
Bill: Two years ago. Well, here we are arguing what you’re asking at the beginning, in the very first part of the book. Now we’ve got this fiscal cliff thing and whether we consider ourselves over it or not, here we are. What if you consider Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, aid to aging NASCAR drivers…? It’s… I think we’re in the $220 trillion range. I guess the question that we’re… that the cliff really is—and it’s still there—the question is the same thing that you ask. Is it too late? I mean have we passed…? I hear Ron Paul and other people saying, “It’s too late, guys.”
Tom: Well, I mean in a theoretical sense, it’s not too late but in a practical sense, it seems like the only thing that is going to change anything is some wrenching ordeal that involves having to make very, very drastic and unpleasant changes to people’s lifestyles in a very short period of time. That figure that Larry Kotlikoff of Boston University gives, which is the present value of the unfunded liabilities of the major transfer programs like Medicare, he gives it as being an excess of $220 trillion. He is not saying, “In order to fund these programs fully we would have to raise taxes by an additional $220 trillion over the course of 75 years” because you might think, “Well, that’s a lot but if it had to be done…” What he’s saying is if you want to fund these programs you would have to invest $220 trillion right now, earning about 5% and then maybe you could do it. Now we don’t have a spare $220 trillion laying around to invest at 5%. I’d love to find out where people are investing at 5% these days. So that does indicate that obviously this is… The lifestyle that people led after World War II, where it seemed like you could have this big welfare state and expanding government and everything basically works and the naysayers are just a bunch of losers who just enjoy complaining. People had a good ride with it for quite a while. But there is just no way it can go on.
Bill: It’s not sustainable. And it would seem to me now… I’d like to get your opinion on the election. It would seem to me that really—and maybe we ran a bad candidate, “we” meaning conservatives—I didn’t vote for Romney so… I would have voted for Ron Paul in a second. But it seemed like a lot of people came out… I know fewer people voted for Romney than voted for McCain but I think still there was a lot of folks that were stirred up about this election, were just voting against Obama, against Keynesianism. They came out, they voted and yet the votes really fell really short from the side that should be opposing this stuff so I guess I’m wondering again, and then mine is if someone threatens to turn the faucet off, which Romney really didn’t even do but if a Ron Paul threatens to turn the faucet off, is he in this sort of democratic republic that we have—is it even politically possible to run on a campaign of shutting off the faucet?
Tom: I think it probably isn’t. And I think he did his best as an honorable person to make proposals that would have been palatable, which is obviously we don’t… There is no way we can continue given these unfunded liabilities. We can continue the type of foreign policy that we’ve had and that’s something that we could cut back on and still be… I mean when the US government is spending almost the equivalent of what every other country put together is spending on the military, I mean you assume that at some point this is obviously just lining people’s pockets, right? I mean you don’t have to be a peacenik to see that, although I probably am but… So this… So he would say, “Before we go throwing Granny in the street, I think Boeing will be okay if we slash our orders by 15%,” you know?
So he would do that kind of thing or there are ways of phasing out programs that are just simply… It’s… When you talk about things like this, the debate usually winds up with “Is it a good thing for old or vulnerable people to get medical care?” Well, no one is disputing that. That’s not the issue. But when the unfunded liability is probably in the $170 trillion range, you have to explain where that’s going to come from. So yeah, it is hard. It is hard to run politically on that. But there are… In Rollback I’ve got some suggestions as to ways that you might go about it. But I think all you can do at this point is you could be a congressman like him, who keeps getting reelected and who has a good base of support and from that base, I think then you just level with the American public and if you get voted out, well, then so what? I mean you told them the truth.
They had their chance and if they’re not going to listen, if they’re going to act like children, you did your level best and while you were in public life you got a platform. You got some notoriety and so now in private life maybe you’ll have a little more clout or be able to open more people’s eyes. But I’m increasingly convinced the only thing that’s going to open their eyes is when the checks stop coming or when the checks don’t buy enough. Then maybe they’ll listen or then maybe they’ll just demand the next quick fix. Who knows? But I just know that regardless of what happens, I’m just simply going to write and do everything I can and talk and make my videos—do everything I possibly can to alert people to what’s happening. There is nothing else I can do.
Bill: It seems, Tom, like there is—and I’m not trying to go back to religion just to be provocative—but it seems like there is almost a moral crisis as well. In other words, if you’re a baby boomer and you’ve got a choice to continue getting some sort of benefit—vote yourself a benefit—and I think you would do that knowing that your grandchildren or great-grandchildren are going to live a standard of living well below yours. Is there…? Is information enough or is there the work of the church? Is there a work of individuals, like you’re saying? We have an educational issue ahead of us but we also have sort of a moral crisis, I think and we’re seeing the results of that.
Tom: I think so and I think… I think people by and large have been corrupted by many influences but partly by this system itself and encourages them to think that it’s legitimate for everybody to be grabbing stuff from everybody else’s pocket and if you’re not in on it, then you’re some kind of a sucker. I mean no… You can sit there in the corner all high and mighty about your great principles but meanwhile the rest of us are going to split the loot and that’s a… That’s a hard siren song for many people to resist. So you do have to do that whereas in the past it was… It was hard to get people initially to accept the idea that “The government will give you this handout” or “We’ll give you this subsidy” because some people felt too proud to accept it. But now it’s infinitely harder to get them to go back and think in the old way, that… Most people today would think you would be some kind of a chump not to be angling for some kind of special privilege. So yeah, it’s true. I couldn’t… I can give all the speeches I want about the consequences of this sort of thing but if somebody has avarice in his heart, all the charts and graphs in the world aren’t going to penetrate to that.
Bill: Well, and it seems like there is people, based on what we… how children get educated, I don’t think it’s any surprise, Tom, that after generation upon generation where business and free markets get hammered, if even mentioned in the classroom. I mean has the average high school kid ever heard of Murray Rothbard?
Tom: No, of course not. But I myself can testify… I remember when I was in junior high, I remember the textbooks and there would be pictures of kids working in terrible conditions and of course the implication of this is that this is where the free market gets you—not the correct implication, which is that this is what happens in any poor society. Any poor society anywhere has to have these sorts of conditions. They have to have kids working or otherwise the family starves to death. That’s why you’re seeing that—not because the free market caused that. I mean how ignorant can you be? Child labor has been going on since the beginning of time. It’s only because the free market gave us the prosperity that it has that we can afford to have these potential workers sitting there in a classroom for 18 years. I mean that is an advance. Nobody wants to see kids work but again, wishing it away doesn’t make it go away.
Every time do-gooders in the west try to get rid of child labor in the developing world, all they wind up doing is consigning these kids to prostitution or starvation. And then they chalk up… But they don’t even notice that because they’re on to their next do-good measure. They couldn’t pencil in the five minutes it would have taken to figure out the obvious outcome of what they’re calling for. So that has got to be smashed as hard as possible—the idea that “Well, the free market gives you these terrible wages and conditions.” And I have written about this at great lengths in multiple books and on YouTube but that was what I got in school and I couldn’t even believe there were people who supported the free market. What kind of a moral pygmy would you have to be, I thought, to support a system like that?
Bill: Well, and don’t you think that we get…? Not only do you get sort of a bland Keynesianism if you have an economics textbook but we also get our economics from literature. We read Dickens and Steinbeck, right? And so what do you…? What are you to make of that?
Tom: Oh yeah.
Bill: We take that worldview from times long ago, as you’ve said and we sort of pull it out of its context and project it into our world and then cry, “Foul!”
Tom: And of course in The Grapes of Wrath Steinbeck had a whole chapter where he grouses about agricultural equipment because it’s—tractors and stuff—because it puts people out of work. So okay—so he thinks it would be better to have a society where 90% of people are stuck on the farm and we’re all living at subsistence level because that’s what that would mean. I could create a million jobs in the world right now if I told everybody that we had to dig trenches with a spoon. Like that’s clearly… Obviously that’s not what we want.
And then also it’s worth knowing that the Soviet Union actually, during World War II or in the late ‘30s, they made a movie… Pardon me. They showed the movie version of The Grapes of Wrath in the Soviet Union as an example of what happens in the terrible exploitate of capitalist west—“Look at how terrible the conditions of these people live in are.” But it totally backfired in the Soviet Union because most people were just amazed that this family owned a car. This is inconceivable to them. So even the attempt to show the allegedly unspeakable conditions in the west, you contrast it with the conditions in the non-market societies of the other side of the world and well, you know even the bad times seem tolerable.
Bill: Well, and we’ve got a situation right now, as you say, where it seems like it’s almost gone. I know there is a remnant. I know there are people like yourself that are teaching von Mises and I know that we’ve got the books from a lot of the Austrians that are real life kind of things. And I think… How do you get…? Is it going to take the great collapse for people…? I mean I guess that’s where you’re going with this is just a slight nudge on the shoulder saying, “Hey, I think this isn’t working. We’re heading for this problem” is no longer something that really works. People say, “Get out of my way. I’ve got this to do” so nobody really cares. But I think for us, do we…? We really need to get people educated so that we don’t turn to the Hitler or something when the faucet gets shut off. Isn’t that what people generally do when they’re hungry is look for a man on a white horse?
Tom: Yeah, I think that’s the urgent issue here is to at least be one of the possible answers when the crisis does finally hit. Now you’re not going to be able to educate the vast… You’re not going to be able to get to a point where 80% of the public understands these issues. They’re just not interested and… Now there is a vastly increased number of people who are interested and who are knowledgeable about this stuff, thanks to Ron Paul—millions of people. But just when you start to get confident because you hang around with those people a lot, you feel like, “Gee. Wow. Everybody is waking up,” then you take a walk down to the mall and you realize, “Nope. Things are just the way they were before. If I asked anybody in this building who Ben Bernanke is I would just get nothing but blank stares.” So to me, it’s not… I don’t think it’s necessary that we have a majority or anything like that but at least that our option is plausible and kind of chic and cool. Increasingly the “smart kids” are interested in these ideas and so a lot of people will just kind of go along with what they perceive the trend to be. If we can at least be the trend, then I think we’ve got a fighting chance.
Bill: And have some degree of a respectable answer. I mean if somebody has a problem, you should be able to give them an answer when… If someone is drinking or on drugs and they say, “How do I clean my life up?” you should be able to give an adequate response to that. If a government says, “I’m broke,” at least we on our side ought to have a response, don’t you think?
Tom: Well, true and then of course when there is a financial crisis like we had several years ago and we’re still living with the consequences of that, there needs to be some attempt to explain what caused it. The New York Times’ Paul Krugman actually said—I quote him in one of my books; I don’t remember which one—but he said that people are so focused on how we got into this mess whereas the important thing is how do we get out? But you can’t figure out how to get out unless you know what the problem was. How can you solve a problem that you don’t even identify?
And that’s really what we are doing—we in the libertarian/Austrian economics camp—are trying to give explanations for how we got into this spot whereas most of the conversation that goes on now is “Well, for whatever reason, we’re in this condition. Who knows? Who cares? Now what do we do? Let’s try this. Let’s try that. Let’s try this. Let’s try this juvenile approach. Let’s try this juvenile approach.” We’re trying to ask the bigger questions and they are questions that the average person, if he has any—I don’t know—just any curiosity whatsoever would want to ask. “How come this happens and why does it…?” And to tell me that greedy people caused this does not explain it because then how come we’re not constantly in a depression? I mean aren’t there greedy people all the time? How come greed manifests itself only in cycles? That doesn’t answer anything. So we’re trying to answer those questions and anybody who craves knowledge is attracted to that.
Bill: A question that I have for you—and I know again, that you’ve been a churchman and you’ve defended the place of the church historically and so forth—what seems easy on Republican sides and in the political game is to just hurl blame back and forth. And something that’s not palatable generally across the population is sort of in this republic that we live in, what percentage of—and I know this is difficult for any economist and I’m not… I’m really asking this rhetorically, Tom. The average guy in the street, if we just say, “This is Obama’s problem. This is John Boehner’s problem. These politicians have done this to us,” is that one of the great lies that we’re living in? In other words, do I…? Does Bill Heid up here in beautiful, sunny Thomson Illinois have any responsibility ever in this great game?
Tom: Well, I mean to some degree because the presence of a Ron Paul and the fact that he was able to generate some traction in ways that are historically lasting and significant shows that the potential for something better was always there. I mean nobody’s going to remember Rick Santorum in five years. Like no one is going to remember John Huntsman. Like I… Just now I could barely remember his name. No one 20 years from now is…
Bill: I’m trying to forget John Huntsman.
Tom: Exactly. But no one 20 years from now is going to say, “Gosh. I’ve got to read John Huntsman’s book from 20 years ago so that I can learn about what’s going on in the world.” But in 50 years kids will still be reading Ron Paul’s stuff. I mean absolutely no doubt about that whatsoever. So he showed that there was a possibility. But on the other hand I don’t entirely blame the general public because they… People have lives to live and they shouldn’t have to spend all their time studying what’s going on and what this bill is about and this and that. They should be able to live in a society where this doesn’t matter to them, where just property is respected, liberty is respected, people can live their lives. They shouldn’t have to take seminars on economics. They shouldn’t have to do this. But the fact that they are being governed by this class of sociopaths puts them in that position and some of them don’t realize that they’re in that position. They just say, “Well, there is something going on in Washington and there’s probably a lot of it that’s no good but look, I work 60 hours a week. I’ve got kids to take care of. I have a lot of personal responsibilities and I’m just going to let the chips fall where they may with that stuff and just try to lead my life the best I can.” I can’t really fault that person.
Bill: But aren’t…? But isn’t the general populous sort of voting for sociopaths on some level? I mean really, when you think about it, increasingly, increasingly people want free stuff and so if there’s no moral fiber, if there’s no compass to say, “Hey, wait a second. I don’t want free stuff. I just want my freedom”—if that sort of resiliency doesn’t exist in the voting populous, I think even someone like Cicero would say, “You know what? You’re going to lose your freedoms, buddy.”
Tom: Well, that’s true. But on the other hand, in their defense, I think a lot of people are so uninformed that they actually thought that Mitt Romney was the answer to people who wanted to get free stuff—that if you have Mitt Romney, then he’s a Republican so that means he’s going to cut back on this stuff; he’s going to be a stickler. Now there’s no evidence for this in the records of previous Republican presidents, in the statements of Mitt Romney, in the record of Mitt Romney. I mean there is… This is an entirely fantasy world derived scenario. But that’s what most people live in because as I say, they don’t take the time to look or they don’t want to know. They don’t… Most… A lot of people don’t want to realize.
They would rather live in a world in which half the country is corrupt but the other half is good, virtuous guys and we are represented by wonderful people in Washington who if only they could get elected or if only we would send in our $25.00 donation, things would really turn around. People want to live in that world. They don’t want to live in the world in which the whole political class, regardless of the superficial party label, has engaged in and is engaged in a series of operations that have harmed you severely; they do not care about your welfare; they don’t care remotely about your welfare. They care about certain powerful, influential groups and they care about themselves and they care about the prostitute they’re going to see tonight.
Tom: A lot of people don’t want to live in that world so they just won’t.
Bill: Tom, we’re winding down for time. Let’s talk, just in a couple minutes, about your Liberty Classroom. I think that you’ve done since we’ve talked to you a couple years ago. That you’ve done since we’ve talked last and I’m kind of excited about recommending that for people to go and check out. It’s at www.LibertyClassroom.com. How did you get the idea? What are you teaching? It looks like you’re teaching good stuff. You’ve got von Mises you’re teaching. You’re teaching history. Talk a little bit about that.
Tom: Well, I think we all realize there is a revolution going on in education right in front of our eyes because of the internet and that’s a great thing from our point of view because as we’ve sort of suggested, in the traditional precinct of American education, you are going to get very, very predictable boiler plate about a lot of subjects and you’re not going to get dissenting views. You’re not going to get politically incorrect views. You’re going to get an exquisitely politically correct narrative about US history, about economics, about whatever.
And so I just suddenly thought, “Well, wait a minute. This internet is just sitting there waiting for me to use it so that I can counter these sorts of things. And I’ve got credentials. I mean I’ve got the credentials that these historians have and I have more than a lot of historians have so why don’t I take to the internet airwaves, so to speak and teach US history the way I would teach it, in a way that would benefit people who just want personal enrichment, who feel like, ‘I didn’t get the real thing when I was in school and darn it, I want to know the real thing’ or ‘My kid is in high school’ or ‘My kid is in college and I don’t trust their professors and I want him to have a lifeline to something reliable’?”
So basically what we do at www.LibertyClassroom.com is we teach—with me and with other people I trust—US history, European history—without the political correctness—economics, real economics; we have a course on logic; we’ve got a course coming next month on Constitutional history. We’ve got a lot of stuff coming. I’m going to do a course on Marxism. And the idea of it is you can watch the stuff on your computer or you can listen in your car. Everything is available in audio or video and then if you have any questions, the faculty are sitting there in discussion forums. Any time you want to ask us a question, you go ahead and post it. We have reading recommendations so you’re not groping around in the dark. This is the most significant thing I have done. And I mean I can’t tell you how thrilled I am about it. I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time and when it actually opened, I could hardly believe that “Oh my gosh. This thing that I thought about…”
Bill: It’s finally there!
Tom: It’s there! Right. You type in www.LibertyClassroom.com and something comes up!
Bill: Well, it’s amazing. And what’s the cost? It’s not very much to have access, is it?
Tom: No, that’s right. It is $99.00 a year and basically, in exchange for that you’re getting seven courses—which think of what that would cost you in college—plus you get as I say, recommended readings; we have quizzes for a lot of the lectures; we have discussion forums; we have live Q&A sessions monthly where we’re actually on your screen taking your questions. It’s like we’re just handing this stuff. I mean that is about as rock bottom as you can… I mean it is… You’re basically paying for your peace of mind, that your kid in college when he’s getting propaganda, he can go right into our forums and our professors will explain, “Well, here’s what your professor should have told you” or “Here’s what you can go back with” or… I mean it’s just what… It’s… In fact, what I’m doing is I’m commissioning courses in areas where I myself wish I knew more and so now I’m just going to pay my faculty to make these courses so I can learn some of this stuff.
Bill: Sure. Sure. You bet.
Tom: So it’s great all around. Yeah.
Bill: You’ve got a lot of firepower there and I think for families… Look, if a mother and father can’t articulate a defense of why we’re free, then that’s a problem. So in other words, maybe these are courses that you take with your kids—especially your high school kids or your college children—you and your wife do them. This is not boring stuff. This is good, exciting stuff. I mean it’s important to know why we’re free, what limitations the civil magistrate has. If you don’t… If you can’t articulate that, how are we going to pass anything on to our kids? How are we going to have freedom for the future?
Bill: So I think what you’ve done, Tom, is amazing.
Tom: I mean I… I really want our people to be just very successful and confident debaters and that’s what I ultimately hope the site will do.
Bill: Yeah, almost like an apologetics class for history, economics and as you say, just… It’s not the politically correct stuff so it’s stuff that…
Tom: Right. And so that onlookers will say, “You know what? I don’t know a whole lot about this subject but that guy sure seems to.” That’s the sort of thing that can open people’s minds.
Bill: And when you had this conversation at the beginning of when we started talking you said well, hey these atheists started talking to this somewhat articulate Christian who was sort of defending what it was that he believed. Instead of doing it like a hooligan and antagonizing everybody, he did it with some grace and he was able… He knew enough about his subject that he wasn’t hurling things around. He did it with some grace. Same thing here—you can be engaged with some people who—teachers, professors, college professors, whoever—who may be a little bit on this other side. If you articulate your defense like the apostle Paul did, like even Socrates did in his Apology, if you can articulate this gracefully, then they’re going to say to you, “Well, what else…? What could we…? Where could we read so that we knew more about economics?” And then it sets you up, right Tom?
Tom: Yeah, that’s exactly what we’re shooting for.
Bill: Okay. That’s about all the time we’ve got for today. I know you’ve got a busy schedule, Tom, and we do too so we really thank you a lot for spending some time with us and we’d like to thank the audience for spending time with us as well.
Tom: Thanks, Bill.
Bill: Thank you.