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* BFU Weekly Journal *
documenting creation of a
Visionaries Learning Center

Bastiat Free University offers internationally accessible and actionable student-directed learning to visionaries and entrepreneurs.
Your BFU resources are now available without cost.

Start Today
Rediscover the pleasures found in self directed learning.

BFUniv, BFU college, self-directed e-learning, Bastiat Free University

Friday, June 29, 2007

Happy Birthday Frederic Bastiat

While there may be a bit of a question on the date, on or about 29 June 1801

Claude Frédéric Bastiat

was born in Bayonne France. Bastiat received a normal education for the period, not one provided by the government, and studied a couple of years at a private college without graduating. The remainder of his life, except his last several years, were dedicated to studying and understanding human nature.

He saw in free men harmonious actions fulfilling each others needs and so fulfilling their own. Much as when the truck driver takes wheat from the farmer to the baker he is earning money for his own desires, not as a service to a bread eater. Bastiat reasoned that any interference with these harmonious transactions created economic dissonance that impaired both freedom and the efficiency of the naturally effective system. A more efficient system than free association could not be planned, so any interference is destructive on all levels.

Talking about the contrasting socialist view that seeks to impose a central order on associations Bastiat wrote "
Mankind is not in their eyes a living and harmonious being endowed by God Himself with the power to progress and to survive, but an inert mass that has been waiting for them to give it feeling and life; human nature is not a subject to be studied, but matter on which to perform experiments."

The last few years of his life were spent in public service, creating free trade associations, as a member of the French National Assembly, and most important to us as a writer. With humor and simple insights he destroyed the arguments of socialists and communists; in fact destroying the arguments of any that would steal from one to benefit another.

If you want a short entertaining story try The Candle Makers' Petition. If you want to spend just a bit more time with Bastiat as your mentor read his powerful and enduring essay The Law. After having read The Law you will be much less open to claims of those planning to steal from you "for your own good." If you want to read a single essay that will show you how to become a good economist, read What Is Seen And What Is Not Seen.

Discover Frederic Bastiat, investigate his stories and essays, you can do very little, involving so little time, that will yield larger life long benefits for yourself.


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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Educational Foundations

How far have we wandered from real education?

I have just spent a few days with a young relative. She has a lot of opinions, all of which have been given her by teachers. She said, "we should have peace!" but she had not thought about how to acquire peace in a world where people want to control or even kill others. She wanted to protect the environment, a laudable goal, but her means were all short term positive, long term destructive - "save a tree - use plastic."

No one had explained the choices; paper is a renewable resource - plastic is petroleum based. Which do you think makes the best long term sense? Did she want to read up on the subject, get several views, and develop her own opinion? No - she already has an opinion, already provided to her with a nice sound bite, it needs no thought.

The foundation of a sound education is simple.

  • learn to read

  • learn to research

  • challenge what you are taught and develop your own viewpoint

If you can read, and read enough to discover the pleasures of reading, then you can uncover any knowledge you desire, on any subject. "The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them." - Mark Twain

I provided my
young relative with a couple of sound bites to consider

  • Don't automatically believe anything you hear, and only half of what you see.
  • Give advice to fools and they will hate you, give advice to the wise and they will thank you.

Education is a do it yourself endeavor. You need to be self educated - especially if you go to school. Many great people of the past were self-educated, most great achievers of the future will be.


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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Three Secrets To Learning Passion

Do you already possess a passion for learning?

A passion filled life, one where you enhance your knowledge by delving deeper into what is most important for you, is endorsed by many - sought by few.

To expand your life beyond servicing necessities and into learning passions, here are a few areas to examine.

  • Avoiding distractions
Life itself can be a distraction. A regular life routine filled with work, eating, and entertainments can become sedative. Lulled into the complacency of average expectations the great potential within you may never awaken. It can be the expected that defines you, as it has many others. Small successes and occasional disappointments mark the daily hills and valleys of your life.

Break from this pattern, get outside the box of normal expectations and redefine yourself. Make your life an expression of passion by examining all you do, removing all that does not help you grow. By seeking deeper understanding -- make your life burn brightly.

  • Broadening your search
What you regularly do each day can be comfortably programmed movements. If your life is filled with mundane daily routine - change the view's scale. Instead of looking at daily events go directly to a view of what you would like to accomplish with your life. This is the difference between watching ripples around you and climbing a mountain to view full rivers, lakes, and streams.

If you choose to climb the mountains of experience you will learn one thing; if you look at the maps made by other's experience you will learn another. To gain the greatest perspective, use maps created by others to guide your own initial explorations. If you enjoy music - study the lives of great composers, from classical to rock, and learn of their expression of passions -- their triumphs and disasters.

  • Concentrate your learning Passion
Having started with your general search you will soon find new views that entice you to inspect knowledge more closely. Follow new maps and new paths to investigate what now appears so interesting. Don't stop at the first thrill, keep looking, there will be much more to discover.

At some point you will find that with each new discovery, you are comparing them to a certain prior discovery. The paths, the maps, the knowledge you gain, all seem to relate to this exciting nexus that continues to draw you back. You have discovered a passion.

Attack this discovery on two fronts, from within as you explore its depth, from without as you relate other discoveries back toward the center. This may be one of the passions that can define a greater life for you -- seek first to define the passion.

  • In summary

It is your life, it is your search. You have willingly looked at this general map about learning passion. Getting on your feet and out of a daily routine will be your next step.

Your daily routine is a rut, and a rut is just a grave with the ends kicked out. Maps provided by others can offer direction and help direct your steps. It is your learning more about what you enjoy that will be the steps along the path leading to your passions.

"Our doubts are traitors

and make us lose the good we oft might win,

by fearing to attempt"


Whether you are just starting to seek and define your passions; are studying and learning passion; or are enveloped by a passion for learning, there is much waiting to be discovered during the remainder of your life adventure.

You can sit in a life of quiet desperation, or you can commit to exploring your understanding of yourself and your awaiting learning passions.


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Friday, June 15, 2007

The Permanent Traveler @ Bastiat Free University

A PT - Permanent Traveler is a good fit for becoming a BFU student. With no physical campus, Bastiat Free University travels well.

Hundreds of years ago people seldom traveled more than a few miles from the place they were born. For large parts of the physical world's population this is still the case.

(warning -- rant ahead)

I'm sure you have heard of the "One hundred dollar lap-top" fiasco. A few years ago a bureaucrat conceived the idea that at under US$100.00 every child in the world could have a wind up computer provided by their governments. Laptops have now started to ship to poor kids. When crooked politicians don't grab them first, the kids themselves are selling them as soon as they get them. The "$100" laptops now cost almost US$200 dollars each, not counting graft and distribution expenses.

Not only are bureaucrats acting surprised this should happen, they want lots of new laws, powers, and controls installed to stop it. It won't work. They even have the gall to be mad at private enterprise because you can now buy a new laptop off the shelf for less than their centrally planned nightmare costs. Private enterprise seeks to provide what people want, bureaucrats tell us what we will want, and then can't deliver.

Back to our BFU & PT lifestyle theme - there is a connection.

For decades freedom loving people have been quietly slipping out of the bureaucratic world. With businesses that travel well, and a desire to live as they feel best suits them, they have joined others in loose associations of what may be called sovereign individuals.

These are the perpetual travelers know as PT. Joining this group has been easy, if you were well educated, or had a mobile business, or a nice bit of savings. That and the knowledge that they were not born to be an employee or an indentured citizen led these pioneers to discover routes to personal liberty.

Now to tie it all together.

Back in the late sixties electronic calculators became available - slide rules were faster - and a hundred times cheaper. As time passed, a calculator's quality and number of functions increased - and prices dropped. At first only the wealthy, or businessmen and scientists, or some students would pay the high price for a calculator. By the late eighties calculators were not only cheap - they were give-away premiums with a purchase.

Lets roll the tape again, but this time let computers play the role once acted by calculators. If the free market is allowed to operate, private enterprise will drive down the cost of computing to where it is not worth the effort of a child, or a crooked diplomat, to steal and sell computers.

The age of the individual will have been born.

Empowered by inexpensive technology, anyone in the world can discover the best places for them to live, and have access to a medium that will allow them to earn their tickets. These will be the students that need BFU and others of its ilk; they will also be the ones that network without boundaries, ethnicities, and distance as limitations. These are the hope for a better, safer future; the Netcohort. That is they may have this wonderful chance.

If we can keep the bureaucrats from destroying their opportunities with new laws, regulations, and taxes.


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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Positive Psychology - don't worry, be happy

From the most popular course at Harvard University, Positive Psychology, come these scientific insights on happiness from the instructor, Tal D. Ben-Shahar.

  • Give yourself permission to be human. When we accept emotions -- such as fear, sadness, or anxiety -- as natural, we are more likely to overcome them. Rejecting our emotions, positive or negative, leads to frustration and unhappiness.
  • Happiness lies at the intersection between pleasure and meaning. Whether at work or at home, the goal is to engage in activities that are both personally significant and enjoyable. When this is not feasible, make sure you have happiness boosters, moments throughout the week that provide you with both pleasure and meaning.
  • Keep in mind that happiness is mostly dependent on our state of mind, not on our status or the state of our bank account. Barring extreme circumstances, our level of well being is determined by what we choose to focus on (the full or the empty part of the glass) and by our interpretation of external events. For example, do we view failure as catastrophic, or do we see it as a learning opportunity?
  • Simplify! We are, generally, too busy, trying to squeeze in more and more activities into less and less time. Quantity influences quality, and we compromise on our happiness by trying to do too much.
  • Remember the mind-body connection. What we do -- or don't do -- with our bodies influences our mind. Regular exercise, adequate sleep, and healthy eating habits lead to both physical and mental health.
  • Express gratitude, whenever possible. We too often take our lives for granted. Learn to appreciate and savor the wonderful things in life, from people to food, from nature to a smile.


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Saturday, June 09, 2007

Secret Wisdom & Hidden Logic

There is a fun read over in the financial fairy tales section of Speculation Rules. The story revolves around distilling secret wisdom and hidden knowledge into a palatable form.

In what might be a useful exercise for any of us I decided to look at distilling Bastiat Free University into an extreme elevator speech - one sentence or one word. The sentence was easy, that would be some version of our university slogan:
Re-engineering higher education -- BFU offers self directed distance learning for visionaries and entrepreneurs.

One word was a lot tougher. Someday the letters BFU will represent us -- just as your name, IBM, or AT&T are a representation and distillation of essence. For now the best I can do for Bastiat Free University is probably a two word set - perhaps as above re-engineering education or maybe educational disintermediationists; either is quite a mouthful.

Educational d
isintermediation, cutting out the intermediary or "middle guy" in schooling, is a two word phrase that reveals a source of most current disruptions. It is a reversal of a process that happened early in the industrial age. It recognizes that educational excellence is achieved due to the desires of a motivated student -- not by the rigorous hounding of an authoritarian hierarchy.

The following is a statement made before formal and institutionalized bureaucracies reigned in what has become a moribund educational industry.

"Whatever be the qualifications of your tutors, your improvement must chiefly depend on yourselves. They cannot think or labor for you, they can only put you in the best way of thinking and laboring for yourselves. If therefore you get knowledge you must acquire it by your own industry. You must form all conclusions and all maxims for yourselves, from premises and data collected and considered by yourself. And it is the great object of
New College to remove every bias the mind may be under, and to give the greatest scope for true freedom of thinking." - Joseph Priestly, Dedication of New College, London, 1794.

The process brought on by technological empowerment of individuals is both liberating our lifestyles, and it is sucking the bloat out of industrial age bureaucracies like the education industry.
Disintermediated students are returning to a learning process where the student is responsible for developing their own open mind and filling it with their own useful insights. With Bastiat Free University you can start today.

Let's make this exercise more personal, what sentence or word can sum up our thoughts of the last few years?

One long sentence that may cover almost everything I've written is -- "The
one size fits most society is imploding; the big bang following the collapse will spawn the creative galaxy of the netcohort society."

If I had to sum up everything I've written recently into one word it could be

If it has to be even shorter, one word with a lot of meanings might do quite well. That one word expression of everything is -- Change


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