Patterico's Pontifications

4/14/2014

Tom Woods’s Liberty Classroom

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:20 am

I am busy the next few days, and blogging time will be short or nil. Luckily, Dana and JD are around, so if anything, the average quality of posts should improve.

I do want to mention something that is rather time-sensitive. I have mentioned that I have been listening to Tom Woods a lot lately. I discovered Woods when he guest-hosted on the radio program of Peter Schiff, famous for predicting the collapse of the real estate bubble as talking heads laughed at him.

Woods is an incredibly entertaining and engaging speaker who is devoted to libertarian ideas, which means that 90% of the time he is awesome, and 10% of the time (when talking about criminal justice issues or foreign policy) he sounds like he is coming from another planet. Still, that 90% is pretty darn good stuff. He is a clear expositor of Austrian economics and constitutional principles. I am making my way through several books of his right now, including Rollback, The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History, and (with Kevin Gutzman) Who Killed the Constitution? The books are fantastic; I learn something on almost every page. And his podcast is a must-listen.

If you enjoyed Woods’s presentation in the zombie video I have embedded here in a couple of posts, you’ll enjoy him. This is that video:

So, what’s time-sensitive? Well, Woods has a project called Liberty Classroom which has a series of video and audio lectures on topics such as U.S. History, Austrian economics, Keynesianism and its shortcomings, and Basic Logic. I balked at it for a while, because my time is limited, and the cost was $99 a year. He would occasionally reduce it to $67, but even that wasn’t quite good enough.

Recently he announced a short-term deal for $50 a year, and I took the leap. I have now downloaded nine separate courses as zip files, which can be uploaded to iTunes and stuck on your iPhone. During my commute to and from home, or as I am folding laundry, I can be learning about the Spanish American War, or the division of labor, or how John Marshall twisted the original meaning of the Constitution to further Federalist ends.

It’s basically a sort of adult continuing education — definitely from a libertarian perspective, so don’t do it if that sort of thing offends you — and it allows me to learn things I should already know in my spare time.

You can sign up here if you’re interested. This link is an affiliate link, which means I get an astounding $30 of the $50 you will be paying. (It seems unfair, frankly, that I should get such a large share of this relatively paltry sum, but this is the way Woods has set it up. Live by the free market, die by the free market, pal!) So if you ever felt like donating $30 to Patterico, for a mere extra $20 ($50 total) you can get access to these courses for a year. Actually, because you can download them, you can get access to them for as long as you keep the files in your iTunes library.

To get the $50 deal, you simply enter “discount” as the coupon code.

I was skeptical about this at first, but after a few days it’s hard to imagine my day without it. Again: it’s not for everyone. People who are strong constitutionalists and have an interest in the free market and Austrian economics are going to get more out of it than others. But it’s a heck of a lot of fun for me, and the deal isn’t going to last forever. I think he may be running it for the whole month of April, but no guarantees.

Anyway, I’m not pushing this hard or anything, but I have gotten enough enjoyment out of it that I would be tickled if a handful of you checked it out and got the same kind of pleasure from it that I have. Even if you don’t, my blogging is likely to be affected by what I learn, so you’ll all be getting some of this stuff by proxy in the coming weeks and months. And if you don’t sign up for Liberty Classroom, at least check out some of Woods’s podcasts.

If you’re like me, you may want to check out some of the free samples they have available before you take the plunge. You can do so here (also an affiliate link). Here is one of the excerpts from the free page, in which Woods talks about Theodore Roosevelt and the Progressive Era:

Again: this isn’t the kind of thing I usually sit around and watch on my computer; I much prefer to listen in my car or as I am doing chores. Still, this video gives you a pretty good feel of the style and content. If you don’t like this video, the site may not be for you. If you do, check it out. I think you’ll be glad you did.

12 Responses to “Tom Woods’s Liberty Classroom”

  1. If anyone has questions about the specific courses, let me know. I have now sampled them all.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  2. Just be careful – it may not be the absolute truth – there are all kinds of things where only people who know nothing about it are impressed, but others are aware of counterpoints and counterarguments, and the more you know he less you are impressed.

    Saying that you learned so much is NOT a recommendation.

    You yourself say that in some things which you already know something – criminal justice, and you can probably put foreign policy in the same category – you are not all impressed with him – in fact he sounds like he’s coming from another planet.

    This is like somebody who reviews a tourist book and finds it very good – except for the places he already knows something about

    But this thing does sound intriguing and if it cost nothing I might get it, especially if it was printed.

    This kind of thing is only the start of research. It undoubtably raises interesting concepts.

    Sammy Finkelman (c33275)

  3. I’ll give it a try. Even a better deal than advertized: when I put the code in, it was only $49.50!

    nineheadedcaesar (e14684)

  4. Hey, I think Roy, Trigger and Cole Porter may have done this in song, as well as Bing and the Andrews Sisters.

    Ag80 (eb6ffa)

  5. Well, trust me, Bing sang it too.

    Ag80 (eb6ffa)

  6. I believe Cole Porter wrote the song.

    Elephant Stone (8a7f08)

  7. Sammy: your comment sounds good in the abstract, but the logic does not survive reality. I don’t know much about foreign policy, to be quite honest — while I do have a decent grasp of constitutional interpretation. So while I do find Woods and other Paulite analysis lacking in the area of criminal law and foreign policy, the reason has less to do with the idea that I know more about the subject, and more to do with my world outlook, which simply differs from that of the libertarians in these two areas.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  8. I’ll give it a try. Even a better deal than advertized: when I put the code in, it was only $49.50!

    Yeah, I was rounding up. Poor salesmanship. Glad you’re trying it. Let me know what you think. I really am interested.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  9. This “interview with a zombie” was designed to be funny, and judging by its music, is partially a parody of william F. Buckley’s “Firing Line.”

    It should be called “Interview by a zombie. The zombie always has one-word questions, and in this one he ran out of different expressions. Tom Woods plays along and immediately reacts anytime the zombie says a word.

    Woods talks very fast, too fast, and is only partially accurate (Jefferson after all, did not pursue nullification after he became president)

    He says nullification was never used for slavery (which is correct) but was used against the Fugitive Slave Act. He somehow never mentioned the tariff.

    The use of “states’ rights” – which is not nullification – but its a second cousin – in favor of maintaining segregation is somehow never brought up either by the zommbie or Tom Woods.

    Woods notes great dictators, obviously, do not like “nullification” by smaller units of government. But that’s not an argument about the United States – that’s an argument about decentralization. Well, in general you are better off not having one law everywhere, that’s true.

    Sammy Finkelman (d22d64)

  10. By the way, I suppose you could notice two forms of “nullification” going on now in the United states but I am not sure the right would be happy at least with the second one:

    1) States figuring out a way to limit abortion, (by requiring doctors at abortion clinics to have hospital admitting privileges) and

    2) States nullifying federal immigration law, not the federal government wants it either.

    But a careful examination of the wording of the constitution would show that the federal government only maybe has power over naturalization, not immigration.

    The word immigration is not in the constitution.

    And Article I, Section 9, Clause 1, seems to indicate it is a state power:

    http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution_transcript.html

    The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.

    In the same way, it only has power over bankruptcy, but not contracts.

    I wonder how he’d like that argument.

    Sammy Finkelman (d22d64)

  11. 7. Comment by Patterico (9c670f) — 4/15/2014 @ 8:14 pm

    Sammy: your comment sounds good in the abstract, but the logic does not survive reality. I don’t know much about foreign policy, to be quite honest — while I do have a decent grasp of constitutional interpretation.

    But you do know a lot about foreign policy, at least compared with economics. Or perhaps hes just wrong at a more elementary level.

    So while I do find Woods and other Paulite analysis lacking in the area of criminal law and foreign policy, the reason has less to do with the idea that I know more about the subject, and more to do with my world outlook, which simply differs from that of the libertarians in these two areas

    That’s true, in fact I thought maybe that formulation wasn’t quite right – except that maybe it is, afetr all, because very many people know the basics about foreign policy.

    Sammy Finkelman (d22d64)

  12. Article I, Section 9, Clause 1 does imply a power to stop the slave trade, and maybe migration, but that woukld be a byproduct of the power of Congress right to regulate commerce with foriegn nations and punish piracy.

    There seems to be nothing giving Congress any authority over non-citizens once in the United States. It was states who claimed such authority at least until the Civil War, especially about free Negroes, sometimes ordering them to leave a state, or not admitting them, and there is even a provision (Article IV, Section 2, Clause one) that says that they have to treat citizens of other states equally. Who don’t they have to treat equally? (at that time) Non-citizens.

    Sammy Finkelman (caf2ab)


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