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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

Sunday, January 27, 2008

How to Pronounce Bastiat

Knowing the ways to pronounce Claude Frédéric Bastiat is not nearly as important as understanding the concepts that underlie his elegant writing. Have patience with those that follow another pronunciation key.

Bastiat was French so he would have pronounced his name in the French manner, bästyä´ (bast-ya); frequently a very soft 'e' sneaks in between the two syllables, almost as an accent mark on the hyphen. While this might be regarded as the preferred pronunciation, it should be realized that French government tends to disown Bastiat; not teaching him in schools, nor studying him at the universities. When you read Bastiat and then view modern French politics it is easy to see why they choose to avoid him.

On the other hand, Americans tend to pronounce Bastiat as three syllables, and in a very unFrench fashion pronounce the last consonant while putting the accent on a hard middle e. (bast-e
-yat). Of course modern American politics is no better than French politics; we must make room for this pronunciation because America possess more of the logical sort of student that embrace Bastiat's ideas.

I can not speak for Frederic Bastiat; but for myself I would rather have my ideas discussed openly, than have my name pronounced with the proper inflection. Bastiat did say: "The worst thing that can happen to a good cause is not to be skillfully attacked, but to be ineptly defended." - C. F. Bastiat

Bastiat was an able defender of his principles.

Much more important than pronunciation is the elegance with which Bastiat stated his good cause. He could in one clear sentence sum up ideas others would dawdle over for hours.

"Everyone wants to live at the expense of the state. They forget that the state wants to live at the expense of everyone." - Bastiat

A single paragraph by Bastiat could relate arguments it would take others a book to outline.

"Away with the whims of governmental administrators, their socialized projects, their centralization, their tariffs, their government schools, their state religions, their free credit, their bank monopolies, their regulations, their restrictions, their equalization by taxation, and their pious moralizations! And now that the legislators and do-gooders have so futilely inflicted so many systems upon society, may they finally end where they should have begun: May they reject all systems, and try liberty; for liberty is an acknowledgment of faith in God and His works." - Claude Frederic Bastiat

If you want to understand the concentrated effect of Bastiat you can read a short broadside like The Candlemaker's Petition. In a page or two he establishes an entertaining argument that exposes the reasoning of those seeking government protections.

And if you want an education in reality; Bastiat's essays The Law and What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen will provide you with valuable insights for everything from starting your own business to understanding Hollywood politics.

Perhaps you want even more. There is available a two volume set of Bastiat's writings translated into English
(video discussion uses American pronunciation of Bastiat). The Bastiat Collection has enough economic theory, entertaining insights, and clear thinking to help you refute arrogant supporters of bureaucratic plunder. Consider reading this your senior project in the principles of social interaction.

Go ahead and pronounce Bastiat the way those around you pronounce Bastiat. Just be sure to understand what genius that name represents. Also be open to others that pronounce his name differently, but have the wisdom to seek his wisdom.


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Sunday, January 20, 2008

A new Higher Education Model

As I mentioned in a prior journal entry on a new higher education model; BFU is considering how to best implement the idea.

This new college model does not even need BFU, except perhaps as some form of middleman. There is a lot to consider, this entry is a first rough outline. Here is the most pertinent paragraph from that prior journal entry.

You can even self teach yourself by reading sixty or more related non-fiction books and doing an in depth review of each one in a blog. Put the blog's URL net address on your resume. Adapt the BFU course directions if you want a bit more structure. To consider yourself a knowledgeable renaissance person in your field, keep learning.

Lets put a bit more clay on to the sculpture.

  • Find a mentor in the field you wish to enter; someone that won't mind asking and answering questions.

  • Get your mentor to review each entry so you can improve it.

  • Create multiple choice questions and/or review points on each chapter you have read and add those to your blog post.

  • Correct the entry, then have your mentor acknowledge your work in the comments.

Pay your mentor well, but remind him he will profit not only by all the direct work he does with you, but by others being able to judge the excellence of his efforts to assist you. Negotiate everything you can think of upfront until you both are satisfied.

Ask your mentor to emphasize where you have failed to improve. This is not like archaic institutional schools where the goal was a high grade. If you are desiring to learn -- failure with insightful correction is a much better teacher than steady success. For that reason you should seek opportunity to exceed what you think is possible. Stretch yourself.

You will have done more thorough work and learning than in most college degree programs. Anyone wishing to verify your knowledge can read the blog you created. You will also be able to review your learning by referring to what you have written.

Show depth and flexibility by also blogging on books, seminars, and courses outside your immediate area of study. These will probably not need your mentor's acknowledgment.

This will not help you win a cubical in a warehouse like bureaucracy - but that is probably not what you wanted anyway. Any opportunities you discover will be with compatriots that want to work with people of determination and achievement. That can be a very good thing.

Diplomas are losing value as they become common and as bureaucracies shrink. A diploma is a dead document representing past compliance with inflexible regulations. Your blog can be a living document that displays your continued growth. You can do this even if you already have a degree.

If you wanted to start a company and change the world where would you look for fellow innovators; to those with a five year old degree and experience in a cube farm, or to those striving constantly for understanding and wisdom and then acting on what they learn?

So would I.


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Friday, January 18, 2008

It Takes Individuals To Create A Village


Humanity is composed of individuals.

If you were born into a small tribe, your life roles would follow predictable paths. Since you were born during the late industrial age, your life path was selected by circumstances of birth and you were trained to fit within it. Like an assembly line your life has been hacked into small functions; one life at home, a separate and defined life at play, and another autonomous piece of life at work or school.

Pervasive technologies now allow us a more coherent, integrated, and authentic self. Our kids and grand kids have a chance to grow up whole in a way we were never allowed to imagine.

While the fundamental unit of society is the individual, our relationships help us to define ourselves. Increasingly these relationships are based on love, reputation, and respect rather than on some extended hierarchy.

If we are to find meaning in our own lives we must first discover ourselves and then determine how we want to relate to others. Instead of wearing incompatible social facades at work, play, and home we can give ourselves permission to act as we feel appropriate wherever we find ourselves.

The gain for the individual is choice.

We do not have to be interchangeable parts of an impersonal social machine. We can communicate with anyone willing to communicate with us, at any level. The old form is dead -- a few scared and pompous individuals making decisions beyond their competence for everyone else. Dilbert will be freed.

"An individual's risks and rewards from creative and natural enterprise are greater, and of far more value to society, than any illusions of security that enslave human cogs in a social machine." - Allan Wallace

Empower yourself. For yourself, for those you love and respect - and then let the results benefit society. As an individual it is your right to choose where, how, and when to expend your efforts. The rewards have seldom been higher for autonomy, and the costs are steadily decreasing.

"Liberty consists in doing what one desires." - John Stuart Mill

Rigid structures and bureaucracies are anti-liberty and inherently unjust. Democracy is not liberty but a vain attempt to give social voice to the disenfranchised. A self important Shepard has no effect on the wolves by declaring them to be vegetarians, while three wolves and a sheep voting on lunch has a predictable outcome.

What is important is what you decide for yourself, as an individual.

"Man is free at the moment he wishes to be." - Voltaire

Freedom is messy. The results of thinking and doing what you feel is best are unpredictable and can't be blamed on others. The results of living are the same for all of us; we will make mistakes and we will die. The difference in how we live is determined by our decision to take the safe route of being part of a stagnant society and told what to do, or being an individual and determining how we wish to live.

While most world leaders talk in sweeping terms of how they want to advance society; their means always seem to involve controlling the individual. They seem to be saying "We love humanity - it's people we hate."

  • "Those who take the most from the table, teach contentment. Those for whom the taxes are destined, demand sacrifice. Those who eat their fill, speak to the hungry, of wonderful times to come. Those who lead the country into the abyss, call ruling difficult, for ordinary folk." - Bertolt Brecht

  • "Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others?" - Thomas Jefferson

Recent history (in centuries) has had central governments using educational marketing to create indoctrinated citizens.
Education is finally escaping total government controls as new media are opening new learning channels. The citizen/government relationship is shifting toward monitored reciprocal duties, balance, and benefits weighed against costs.

Those that tell us the village is most important are usually village leaders that want the benefits of power over others. Instead of letting them decide our contributions, we can give as little or as much as we believe is justified. The time is coming when you can pick your government a la carte.

Most villages have a plaque on a small house proclaiming that a hero of some sort was born there. That is one thing they feel sets them apart, that is what put their village on the map. Everyone doing the expected does not create a stir, it is the individual who excels that defines humanity.

Villages that offer the greatest opportunities with stability will attract more of those singular heroes.
The life well lived can be a wonderful adventure; if we are willing to take responsibility for our own actions, and then act.

"Decide now -- is your next action to be determined by what you want to do, or by what you want to accomplish?" - Allan Wallace

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Monday, January 14, 2008

Tell Your Fabulous Story

If the Internet serves a deep human need, it is the ancient need to tell and hear stories.

Your story is important, it lets all of us know that our stories are important also.

The BFU story has been told, just not well told. It is not personal enough. The thoughts that led to its creation and the plans for its growth are a sterile sort of presentation. What is more important are the missteps, the blind alleys and box canyons, the serendipity of supporting discoveries. It is the reality, not the best face, that is most interesting. That is what we sometimes try to share here in the journal.

But this is about you.

What do you hope to discover, where have you put wasted effort, where have you found surprising rewards? If you know what you seek; how can we as fellow students assist?

Of interest, while writing this epistle I have received a phone call. A local hospital, Hoag, that did some excellent and cheerful emergency work on me, has asked if I will let them tell my story as a testimonial. It will be a bit embarrassing, a bit uncomfortable, and of course I will do it. I just hope I get to mention the best doctor I have ever found, Dr. Pereyda; she is conscientious, thorough, and caring - what more could you ask for.

"Let us speak, though we show all our faults and weaknesses - for it is a sign of strength to be weak, to know it, and out with it..." - Herman Melville

Write your story in your blog and leave a note in the comments about it. If you don't have a blog, see the prior post for some hints on starting a blog. If you don't want a blog, but would like to share your story, send it to me using the "contact me" link at the top of the BFU lens - It will probably be worth posting here.

A short story might fit in the comments.

Telling your story will not just help us, it may be fun, educational, and helpful to you also.


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Saturday, January 12, 2008

How To Start Blogging

I had a young professional ask me how to get started blogging, and he gave me a list of his priorities. This is not an exhaustive list of blog starting ideas - but it answered most of his questions, perhaps it will answer some of yours.

I would pick up a regular website to start.

Get it through a domain seller and add a page or two. It will only cost a few dollars a year, and site age does mean something if you decide to develop it later.

For ease of use try the free blogger, it was bought by Google and is steadily improving. You can connect it to your web site if you start your site first. Google offers several templates (the facade or look), there will be more on the net for free if you search; there are folks that will create custom looks for very little money. You will own your material, although it might not be easy to transfer to another platform.

It is also easier to get approved by Google adsense if you have blogger - put up your first 10 or fifteen posts and then apply from the blogger dashboard.

About the time you apply to adsense, use AddMe to send your url to the search engines. You only need to do it once, and you only need their free service. Each time you post use Pinggoat to distribute your content.

It is best if at first you post a lot - even several times a day. Frequency builds your archives for the search engines, and rewards readers that return. Be sure to use categories so it is easy for readers to find prior posts. Posts do not need to be long, a few hundred words is sufficient. Plan to post a minimum of several times a week for the first five or six months.

Use 1000 Bees or HitTail to track your visitors. The key words (search terms) your blog visitors used to find you may be a good title for your next post, or your next blog. They will also help you measure and compare the effectiveness of your changes - the secret of marketing success.

Don't expect to earn a lot of money blogging. It does happen occasionally, but many bloggers earn nothing. It does improve writing skills and can be fun, but the pay per hour spent can be dismal. If earning money is your goal, invest a few hundred dollars in a bundled site building program; Sitesell is the best I've found. Start your investigation with
Sitesell's free courses. They will sell and service the domain as part of their fees (their tools will help you pick the most profitable name also).

Amazon pays around 5% of sales, you need a lot of traffic to sell enough to make money. In fact traffic is the key, targeted traffic is the goal - people that want what you offer and will linger and return to enjoy it.

Consider building a Squidoo lens - they are easy to build and simple to maintain. best of all they will provide quality links to your blog that will please search engines. Squidoo also has some new lens styles, like Squidflix, which might also fit your style. They share revenue, but don't expect large amounts. Most of my Squidoo lenses average less than a dollar a month, although a couple do better. They do generate targeted business traffic if well written.

While Google's blogger is a good place to start, you will quickly learn of other products and may decide to switch. After a bit you may decide to quit, or take what you have learned and start over.

It is fun and educational, if rarely high return.

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Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back

The title's reference to steps forward and steps back is based on societal progression as postulated within Elliott Wave Theory. Being a fractal construct it is scalable, perhaps though, not as far down as a single upstart university.

At one level BFU is advancing, we are still improving slowly. At another we have taken a step back. We will no longer offer college degree programs.

There was interest in the degree track, just not enough to justify upgrading the learning materials we were making available. We could not afford to offer the quality we sought to provide for the relatively few that were interested.

For now we think it is best to leave Bastiat Free University available to all. There will be no charge to access any of our sites. Get your own books, buy your own materials, and monitor our classes for free.

That had always been an option, for now it is the only option available.

The cost of finding and understanding knowledge is dropping toward zero. Learning will someday be as inexpensive as knowledge acquisition is now. We intend to stay in the vanguard, but acknowledge that doing so precludes covering our expenses at our stage of development. Every degree student we add would increase costs.

Eventually the needs of pursuers of wisdom will prevail. From the introduction to the BFU lens:

Starting before kindergarten, college degrees are marketed as a way to get a better job, more income, or a promotion. Bureaucrats are selling meal tickets to future bureaucrats.

But college degrees are losing value as they become common and as bureaucracies shrink with the ending of the industrial age. That college degree meal ticket no longer guarantees entry to a quality meal.

At student-centric Bastiat Free University your emphasis will be on learning. You can learn at no cost except for books and supplies - just register and monitor the classes. There is finally a college that understands cost appropriate learning.

Change is coming, we will be part of it, we will continue to improve.

Enjoy all BFU has to offer at no charge. We will continue to offer this option; we will regularly revisit the idea of offering students the chance to earn low cost degrees and certificates.

For yourself, you can do the work required in the BFU course guide and save it. It may come in handy in the future. I also mention a way to self teach and give yourself credit in another journal post.

But degrees will continue to decrease in value. What will remain important is your reputation. Rediscover the love of learning - it is your knowledge, integrity, and adaptability that will allow you to excel even as the industrial age crumbles.


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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Counting The Cost

You know it and don't need me to tell you - the world is changing.

Bastiat Free University was born in the enthusiasm of a "can do" decade, the summer of the long Kondratieff wave. The anticipation of fall and winter for the world also carried the distant promise of spring.

Now that it is late fall or early winter you can feel the chill within the social mood. Skepticism is rampant, the desire for uniformity increasing. The final gasps of the industrial age are heard from a factory castle with hoarfrost on the windows. The dying dotard within is seeking his legacy by rule of law; nothing must change, any extant institutions are to be considered inviolate.

The bureaucrats of the passing age are of course in agreement. Their armies promoting failing kings are marching to forestall spring offensives by new and "dangerous" ideas. The Russian winter will once again destroy arrogance, but not before great damage is wrought.

Spring is yet hidden beyond a mist shrouded valley of almost incomprehensible dimensions.

What then of Bastiat Free University. We are in the marches between the past and the future; and we are not yet fully realized. We have no authority in the strategies of conquest, we are but a slight hindrance, a small obstacle, virtually unseen from within ideological campaigns for power.

The BFU game plan, developed during the heady days of summer, was to ride out the winter storms and like wheat planted before the first freeze burst forth as an early sign of spring. Unfortunately our autumn reception has been cooler than anticipated, there has been little cultivation beyond our own efforts.

Our field is being paved with regulations supporting mere bureaucratic certification rather than quality learning; all the better for battling forces to traverse. The high guilds of educational accreditation are ensconced by their roaring fires - seeking functionaries to exalt their humility.

They have found their toadies and are sending them forth.

The war maintained by supporters of central authority is a holding action, straining to delay liberating advances. The futility of their actions will not decrease the horrible cost in lives wasted.
What then is the best strategy for BFU? Do we remove ourselves from the field of battle and return in a more accommodating season?

Do we count our task as done; knowing the seeds we planted will sprout from fertile soil enriched by blood spilled for an ignoble cause?
Do we continue in the fields during winter, or retire from battle to await the promised thaw?

The primary reason to continue is that we may help avert disaster as the new age dawns. Perhaps that is hubris, and we are better off observing and preparing.

Our shared future is a race between sedentary fools courting disaster to maintain their power; and innovation sparked by empowered individuals meshing by reputation to achieve their personal goals.

Should Bastiat Free University attack, defend, or perhaps withdraw while awaiting an advantageous season?

"In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists." - Eric Hoffer


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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Universities Similar To Bastiat Free University

Someone found this journal by googling: "similar universities to Bastia [sic] Free University."

There could be lots of reasons for the search; they may hope for something better than BFU, or want to start their own university, or want information before they make a college donation, or many other possibilities. They may even have been thinking of
free lunch rather than free speech, while we are most attuned to the second meaning of free.

The short answer to their query -- yes, there are universities similar to BFU.

I have a list that includes a couple of them on my distance learning vs. brick and mortar lens under the title "Schools On The Edge." I also have a bit on a discontinued MIT computer science program (ADU) that still has materials available, at the end of the School For Entrepreneurs page.

I get an occasional e-mail from a new college with a fixed program of courses on liberty that sounds interesting; although
fixed and required are not really compatible with BFU philosophy. If you are interested leave a comment and I'll try to remember to post a link here the next time they solicit a donation.

You can even self teach yourself by reading sixty or more related non-fiction books and doing an in depth review of each one in a blog. Put the blog's URL net address on your resume.
Adapt the BFU course directions if you want a bit more structure. To consider yourself a knowledgeable renaissance person in your field, keep learning.

There are also journal comparisons of BFU with
Thunderbird International Business school and with the South Harmon Institute of Technology.

There are several other alternatives, most of them are industrial age educational institutions that are trying to adapt to a new age. As shown by Tony Lopez in The Manila Times, MIT is trying very hard.

As I wrote in the distance learning lens:

"Brick and mortar colleges are where leather bound encyclopedias were a few decades ago - highly respected - unable to gracefully adapt to the information age." - Allan Wallace

Do you remember the transitions of encyclopedias as they went digital? First one, then others, sold inexpensive CDs of their materials. Increasingly encyclopedic materials became available on-line. Then ventures such as user supported Wikipedia and advertisement financed search engines offered additional resources.

Today even Wikipedia has several promising challengers. The old line leather bound encyclopedias still have value, but they seem needlessly cumbersome and expensive - and are therefore increasingly rare.

Cost appropriate knowledge is becoming virtually free. Cost appropriate learning will likely travel the same path.

That some brick and mortar institutions offer better programs than BFU currently offers is beyond doubt.
Bastiat Free University and The Netcohort Institute belong to the future, and that is where they will excel.

Formal college programs are handicapped by restrictions and expenses that limit their flexibility and hence their future - we have no such barriers to overcome. BFU will survive to make mistakes and adapt as the future unfurls.

The original free universities were founded centuries ago by self-directed learners that hired respected mentors to teach what those students wanted to learn. This is an interesting educational model that BFU plans to pursue when able; freelance educators mentoring self-determining students.

All of the original free universities have vanished or been melded into formal platforms. There was a bit of a revival in free universities during the 1960s protest era, those seem to have vanished also.

BFU may be unique in some ways, but our desire to continue in liberty is probably the most important. That is why, while there are many universities similar to Bastiat Free University, there are as yet no viable replacements for Bastiat Free University

We were born free, we want to remain free, we want to help others become free.


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