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.
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
as a condition of passing each elementary school grade was
required, each week, deposit something into that envelope.
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.
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.
act taught each of those kids the basic notion of saving. For
many, it would be their only such experience.
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."
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
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.
of Tom's programs featured a few people paying and Tom and
his buds deciding where the resources went.
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.
how to spend their own money sounds pretty democratic to me,
Mr. Hayden's perverse analysis aside.
bill I sponsored as a legislator provided that any expenditure
on a home repair would constitute a tax credit.
is fairly straightforward. We have a huge housing inventory
in California, much of it constructed during the 1950s and
age, they need repairs and technological upgrades.
the refreshment of the housing stock through tax incentives
seemed to me as perfectly rational public policy.
repairs would employ people and consume taxable goods resulting
in no net loss of revenues to the state.
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
subsidy?" The money belonged to the public in the first
place, so how could it be a subsidy?
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.
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.
be great if there were more such efforts by business throughout
But if you
cannot send a child to Camp Enterprise, at least buy them a
copy of the book "The Richest Man in Babylon."
the way back in 1926, by George S. Clason, this is a book of
basic wisdom about economics that has endured for generations.
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
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
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?"
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.
shouldn't freeze when they could be among the rich in Babylon. CRO
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 email@example.com.
Comments may be published as letters to the Editor.
2006 Larry Stirling