Sign Up for
Google Alerts!

content headlines
sent out every day
email us to sign up





Latest Column:
Stopping the Meltdown
What Beltway Republicans Need To Do

opinon in
Reagan country



Jon Fleischman’s
The premier source for
California political news


Michael Ramirez
editorial cartoon


Do your part to do right by our troops.
They did the right thing for you.
Donate Today




tOR Talk Radio
Contributor Sites
Laura Ingraham

Hugh Hewitt
Eric Hogue
Sharon Hughes
Frank Pastore
[Radio Home]




The Richest Man in Babylon
Learning economics in California schools?...
[Larry Stirling] 3/3/06

It took three winters in Akron after Dad returned from fighting in the south Pacific to conclude that we were moving to California.

And until he did so, I attended Spicer Elementary School where every Monday morning, sitting on our desk, near the ancient inkwell holes, was a little brown envelope containing a savings account passbook.

Every student, as a condition of passing each elementary school grade was required, each week, deposit something into that envelope.


Larry Stirling
Larry Stirling is a former California State Senator and Retired Superior Court Judge [go to Stirling index]

We were never permitted to take anything out. I assume that my $16.25 has long since escheated to the state of Ohio.

The Akron Dime Bank must have spent a fortune on keeping the passbooks of thousands of Akron Public School students current each week, but what a public service.

That one act taught each of those kids the basic notion of saving. For many, it would be their only such experience.

Many years later, as a member of the legislature, I thought of those little pass books while listening to radical Tom Hayden inveigh against the capitalist system and in favor of his very liberal organization "The Campaign for Economic Democracy."

It occurred to me that since moving to California and attending public schools here from the fourth grade on all the way through San Diego State University, I never heard a kind word about the capitalist system.

"Economic democracy?" While listening to Tom, I never quite heard the part where they got to the democracy: you know, where people decide what to do with their own money.

Every one of Tom's programs featured a few people paying and Tom and his buds deciding where the resources went.

Compare that to the free enterprise system that assumes that people are smart enough, given the right education and information, to make the best decisions for themselves.

People deciding how to spend their own money sounds pretty democratic to me, Mr. Hayden's perverse analysis aside.

The first bill I sponsored as a legislator provided that any expenditure on a home repair would constitute a tax credit.

The notion is fairly straightforward. We have a huge housing inventory in California, much of it constructed during the 1950s and '60s.

As houses age, they need repairs and technological upgrades.

Encouraging the refreshment of the housing stock through tax incentives seemed to me as perfectly rational public policy.

Doing such repairs would employ people and consume taxable goods resulting in no net loss of revenues to the state.

My gosh, you would have thought I said something bad about Karl Marx. Hayden and his radical colleagues were aghast that I would propose any bill that was a "tax subsidy" to the public.

A "tax subsidy?" The money belonged to the public in the first place, so how could it be a subsidy?

I recently wrote Jack O'Connell, Superintendent of State Education, asking for an update on economic literacy education opportunities in public schools.

We were in the Assembly together. Jack is a fine man. I know he didn't compose the response.

Sadly, after reading the letter, I still don't know the opportunities for learning the capitalist system in California schools.

But, I doubt if Bank of California sponsors passbook accounts to teach our students to save.

The San Diego Rotary Club annually sponsors "Camp Enterprise" in an effort to supplement Superintendent O'Connell's program.

It would be great if there were more such efforts by business throughout our state.

But if you cannot send a child to Camp Enterprise, at least buy them a copy of the book "The Richest Man in Babylon."

Written all the way back in 1926, by George S. Clason, this is a book of basic wisdom about economics that has endured for generations.

Clason was a businessman and most famous for producing the first road atlas for the United States and Canada.

But he is immortal for attempting to communicate the value of the capitalistic process in the face of so many detractors in our public-education system.

If you are a businessperson, you should have a constant supply of these to hand out to any young person so they can learn something about the most successful economic system in the history of the world.

There are a lot of ways to build wealth, but the simplest and easiest it to start saving early.

I once heard the question asked: "Why when it snows, so some people freeze and some ski?"

The answer of course is that some people work hard and save and other people listen to Tom Hayden or the mayor of New Orleans and believe the hard working people of the world owe them a living.

Our kids shouldn't freeze when they could be among the rich in Babylon. CRO

Stirling is a retired superior court judge who now practices law with the firm of Garrison & McInnis. He is a former Army officer, member of the San Diego City Council, the California State Assembly and the State Senate. Send comments to Comments may be published as letters to the Editor.

copyright 2006 Larry Stirling


Blue Collar -  120x90
120x90 Jan 06 Brand
Free Trial Static 02
ActionGear 120*60
Free Trial Static 01
Applicable copyrights indicated. All other material copyright 2003-2005