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Interview with Richard J. Maybury

Mr. Maybury is the author of the Uncle Eric series published by Bluestocking Press

The following interview was initially conducted by Christianbook.com in August, 2008. It is reprinted below with their permission.

Christianbook: Many homeschooled students have read your Uncle Eric series. How did you come up with the idea to write books about traditionally complex topics in a student-friendly format?

RICHARD MAYBURY: I entered college in 1964, then got drafted, and after four years in the Air Force, returned to college. In 1973, after receiving my degree in business and economics, I became a public school teacher.

What quickly caught my attention was the fact that the high school textbooks were written to impress the bureaucrats who approve and purchase the books, not to actually communicate with the students.

I decided to develop the book that eventually became Whatever Happened to Penny Candy? I’d write a letter to the students explaining an economics topic, then ask the students what could be done to make the letter more clear, entertaining and fast reading.

I kept rewriting until the students finally said, yes, that’s what works! The letters were compiled into the book, which I then used in my classroom.

To be honest, there was also a rebellious, iconoclastic challenge in it for me. At that time, a growing belief among college professors was that undergraduate students should not be taught economics because so few had the ability to understand it.

When a prof told me about that, I recoiled. I said to myself, economics is only arcane if you are trying to buffalo people into believing the government’s so-called experts have the ability and right to play God and control every aspect of our lives. I thought real economics could be boiled down into something a 12-year old could understand, and after I became a teacher I set out to do it.

The key, I believe, is to avoid abstractions and give the students examples that are concrete. A picture is worth a thousand words.

Christianbook: In your first Uncle Eric book, Whatever Happened to Penny Candy? you distill economic theory into an easily accessible review of inflation, government controls, and free market Austrian economics. Why did you feel the need to write about this topic first?

RICHARD MAYBURY: It was the mid-1970s, when so-called stagflation — the combination of inflation and recession — had begun to rear its ugly head. After 16 years of the Vietnam War, the economy was a wreck. Gasoline and food prices were soaring, and so was unemployment; the stock market and real estate were in trouble.

Sound familiar?

In college we had all been taught Keynesian (Cane-zee-en, named after John Maynard Keynes) economics, which was a watered-down socialism, invented in the 1930s. By the time I was in college in the 1960s and ‘70s, Keynesianism was routinely sold to the students as the “New Economics,” and it was the official policy in Washington.

Keynesians believed inflation and recession could not happen at the same time. By 1975, it was clear they were wrong, and a few of us began looking for a viewpoint that was more in touch with reality. My choice was the “Austrian” economics of F.A. Hayek and Ludwig von Mises. That’s the viewpoint most in agreement with the legal and political principles of America’s founders.

And, incidentally, Keynesians are still wrong. As I write this in August 2008, you may have noticed the term stagflation re-appearing. This is because we are back into the kinds of economic problems we had during the Vietnam War. As the old saying goes, everything old is new again. Or, as philosopher George Santayana said, “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Nowhere is that more true than in economics.

Christianbook: You’re up-front about your “biases” and point of view. What convinced you that stating your viewpoint clearly was more honest than reporting what you believe as incontrovertible fact, like the media and many authors do?

RICHARD MAYBURY: I suppose the first reason is that I’m proud of my viewpoint and do not want to hide it. To me, the evidence is very compelling that the American founders, such as Patrick Henry, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson and the others, were on the right track. Political power corrupts the morals and the judgment; it must be kept severely limited. Why would I not want my readers to know that’s what I believe?

On the other hand, if I believed that political power is wonderful stuff and its benefits are greater than its costs, I would want to hide that, it would be embarrassing. People would think I was born yesterday.

The second reason I disclose my bias is that I couldn’t look at myself in a mirror if I didn’t. As I explain in Uncle Eric Talks About Personal, Career and Financial Security, there is no such thing as a presentation that is objective. It’s not possible for a writer to give all the facts associated with a topic, so the writer must use some kind of model or paradigm to select which facts should be presented and which ones omitted.

The selection of the model is a matter of personal choice. Therefore, everything ever written — and I emphasize, everything — has been an editorial, because it cannot be anything other than that. None of us is God, we do not have omniscience, we only have models.

Even a phone book is based on some kind of model that indicates which facts should be included and which ones omitted.

To me, every news organization should require its reporters to disclose their models, so that the audience has some idea of the bias. If a reporter is a socialist, his name should be followed by a comma and the word socialist. If he’s a fascist, a comma and fascist, and so forth. All viewpoints should be welcome, but they should be clearly labeled, no secrecy.

Christianbook: In Whatever Happened to Justice? you elaborate on the two laws that are the foundation for common law—1.) Do all you have agreed to do and 2.) Do not encroach on other persons or their property—and that undergird your books. Do you want to see the U.S. work towards reinstating higher law, as the world did at Nuremberg? Or is it impossible, given wide-reaching government bureaucracy?

RICHARD MAYBURY: Thanks for mentioning Whatever Happened to Justice? For those who have not read it, the two laws are the ones on which all major religions agree. This is why the common law was called the common law. It was a legal system based on the religious ethics that are common to all — Higher Law — not on majority rule.

Those two laws are where we all come together. They’re the point of consensus, the thing almost all humans can agree on, the creator of harmony, liberty, peace and abundance.

Whatever Happened to Justice? is the book that’s most near and dear to my heart. I sometimes wonder if it’s what I was put on earth to do. When I was writing it, I often felt that I was on auto-pilot and something else was doing the writing.

Of course, I have a highly unconventional imagination. Like Dickens’ Scrooge, maybe that feeling was just the blot of mustard I ate at dinner.

Do I want America to return to a legal system based on the Higher Law?

Absolutely. It would be wonderful to have a legal system based on something other than the whims of the majority. Anyone who isn’t naïve as a newborn lamb has figured out that majority rule is mob rule.

As the old saying goes, democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting to decide what’s for lunch.

But we’ve all been trained to never say these things out loud, and certainly not in front of the children.

One of my favorite books is Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, by Charles MacKay. The title says it all, and to explain the theme of the book, MacKay quotes Bernard Baruch: “Anyone taken as an individual is tolerably sensible and reasonable — as a member of a crowd, he at once becomes a blockhead.”

But at this time, I am sure a new political and legal system based on a Higher Law is impossible. To make a change as sweeping as that, people would need to feel they are in mighty desperate straits. As the Declaration of Independence says, “Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes.”

In other words, people would need to feel sure that the tumultuous transition to the new system could not be any worse than what they are already experiencing.

If none of us had families, we’d be a lot quicker to upset the applecart, but since we do, we will wait until the applecart has been wrecked, and then we’ll make a new one.

When will that be? I don’t know. I do know the Federal government has spent more than a half-century wandering the globe poking sharp sticks at rattlesnakes, and now the snakes are striking back. On top of that, the inflationary economic policies adopted to finance the wars are slowly demolishing the economy.

So, we may be only a few years away from needing a new applecart. But if it turns out to be decades, that won’t surprise me either.

When the big crisis finally arrives, I am convinced America will go in one of two directions, either back to the principles of the American Revolution, or to complete fascism, which is explained in my book about ancient Rome.

The Uncle Eric books are, at bottom, my attempt to help prepare Americans to make the better choice when the crisis arrives.

Christianbook: You offer great advice to the entrepreneurially spirited in The Clipper Ship Strategy: For Success in Your Career, Business, and Investments and Uncle Eric Talks About Personal, Career and Financial Security. What pointers would you give to a homeschooled student looking to get involved in economics or politics? Would you recommend any specific colleges, books, or people to contact?

RICHARD MAYBURY: I would hesitate to recommend that anyone get into politics. I cannot think of anything that could corrupt a person faster. I’ve watched it happen many, many times.

It is much more ethical, and probably more effective, to teach others about the need for a return to original American principles. Begin by getting their agreement on the two laws, then show them how the government’s violation of these laws is wrecking the country.

I think the best way to start is by talking with the clergy. If they are on our side, we can’t lose. If they aren’t, we can’t win.

Would this violate separation of church and state? Certainly not. Just read the First Amendment, it’s very short and clear. It doesn’t prevent religion from influencing government, it prevents government from influencing religion.

The founders were highly intelligent. They knew a government that has no ethics is a terrifying thing.

And, unfortunately, that’s exactly what we have today. Everyone is taught to worship democracy, and each year the country becomes more democratic, more in the grip of majority rule.

Under majority rule, there is no legal requirement for the majority to be ethical. There isn’t even any legal description of what is ethical.

That’s a colossal departure from the days of the American Revolution. Prior to the Revolution, a clergyman named Jonathan Mayhew told the colonists they had a choice. They could obey their government’s law (England’s law), or their God’s law, but they couldn’t do both, because their government’s law violated God’s law.

In a letter written in 1818, John Adams said Reverend Mayhew’s sermon, delivered in 1750, was the actual beginning of the American Revolution. Adams said it, “was read by everyone.” He wrote that “Mayhew seemed to be raised up to revive all their animosity against tyranny, in church and state, and at the same time to destroy their bigotry, fanaticism and inconsistency.”

What’s very telling is Adams’s comment that “The Revolution was effected before the War commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people, a change in their religious sentiments of their duties and obligations.”

Religious sentiments. The choice was a religious one.

I am convinced that if the clergy today get behind the movement to return to the system of liberty — if they continually put before their congregations the need to choose between their government’s law and their God’s law — then America can be saved.

If the clergy does not do that, then I have no hope.

And, the clergy can only be converted one person at a time. Individual members of their congregations must convert them to the cause patiently, face-to-face, in lengthy, sincere conversations.

The first few of the clergy who launch the effort — those that are the first to get up in front of their congregations and deliver the message that it will be either the government’s law or God’s law but it can’t be both when higher law is violated by government — will certainly go down in history alongside Jefferson, Hancock and the other leaders of 1776 if the revolution succeeds.

There is also the fact that the religion that’s first to make a stand will be the one that will get the lion’s share of the credit.

Regarding people and organizations to contact, I never hesitate to recommend Sharon Harris at www.theadvocates.org.

Ron Paul’s new book The Revolution is great. I agree with every word of it, and I’m sure I’ve never said that about any other book. It’s been number one on the New York Times bestseller list, which gives me some hope that America still can be saved.

As for colleges, I don’t know, I’ve been away from the academic world a long time. Perhaps someone at the Mises Institute or Foundation for Economic Education can make a suggestion.

Christianbook: The historical occurrences of European/American aggression highlighted in The Thousand Year War in the Mideast are documented in various historical documents and books, yet many Americans believe that Muslim countries are to blame for the current troubles. In your words, “[General George] Washington called it retaliation, today’s politicians call it terrorism.” How did you come to your conclusions that the terrorism of today is directly tied to previous Euro-American aggression?

RICHARD MAYBURY: Lots of reasons. Here are three.

First, the federal leviathan is by far the most powerful government ever seen on earth, and has been for roughly a century. If given free rein, a single US aircraft carrier, with its resupply ships, could defeat all but perhaps a half-dozen countries. There are more than 200 countries.

Suppose you were walking down the street one day and saw an 85-year old, white haired little old lady punching a 250-pound football linebacker. Would you say, look at that evil little old lady beating up on that linebacker? Or would you say, what did the linebacker do to provoke her?

I suppose its possible the little old lady really is an evil bully who likes to attack linebackers, but I don’t think the odds favor it.

Second, Iran is Persia, and the reason the Persian Gulf is called the Persian Gulf is that Iran owned it for at least 25 centuries until the governments of Britain and the US took it away from them. For more than two decades there have usually been about two dozen US and British warships stationed in the Persian Gulf. How many Persian warships have you ever seen in Chesapeake Bay?

In other words, as my friend Ron Paul has said, “They didn’t come over here until we went over there.”

Third, the U.S. government is allied with Europe. For about ten centuries until the mid-20th century, European armies wandered the globe, conquering all but five countries: Iran, Afghanistan, Thailand, Japan and parts of China.

The British government alone conquered a fourth of the earth. That’s the meaning of the old saying, the sun never sets on the British Empire. British rulers owned more than a hundred countries around the globe.

We don’t know how many tens of millions of innocent people European rulers slaughtered to build their empires, but you can get an idea of the feelings they left behind by Gandhi’s famous remark. He was asked what he thought of European civilization, and he said, “I think it would be a good idea.”

Today the U.S. government is allied with those governments. When you sleep with dogs you get fleas.

Christianbook: How does understanding ancient Anglo-Islamic conflicts put the modern war and the U.S. stance into perspective?

RICHARD MAYBURY: Let me point out that a great deal of the European killing of people in distant lands was by armies and navies of governments that painted crosses on their armor and on the sails of their warships. The conquests were done in the name of the Prince of Peace. So, in many places, Christianity came to be seen as something that comes out of the barrel of a cannon. This isn’t what it is, but it’s the image European rulers created for it, and, again, the U.S. government is allied with the Europeans.

If you look at the history of Iraq, you will find that early in the 20th century, when the British air force was experimenting with the use of machine guns on airplanes, they tested the effectiveness of the guns by strafing Iraqi families.

That exemplifies the attitude the Europeans had toward people who were not European. The reputation the Europeans earned by committing such atrocities is the reputation that rubs off on America because of the U.S. government’s alliance with the Europeans.

The past is a solid, unchangeable fact. We cannot alter it and we cannot make the victims of European rulers forget it.

In short, the U.S. government will never be trusted as long as it is cozy with the governments of Europe.

Christianbook: Many of your predictions about the current conflict have come true. Do you have any new or updated predictions on what will happen in the next ten years?

RICHARD MAYBURY: The next ten years. Tough question. I’ll give it a try, but please keep in mind that this is all guesswork.

That said, one of the very few things about which I am absolutely certain is, when people play God, they always do it badly.

Most of the population was raised in government-controlled schools, and they see the government as God-like, the solution to all their problems.

Over the next ten years I think the war and its cost will expand, and the economy will worsen. Lots more inflation, business failures, unemployment and poverty.

The U.S. government’s size, power and taxes will grow, as the population demands that their political God do something, anything, to save them.

But it’s a false God, so it will not only fail, it will continue making things worse. As Ronald Reagan said, government isn’t the solution, it’s the problem.

I think there is a 90% probability the great crisis will be upon us within ten years. One reason is that the whole generation of baby boomers was lied to about economics. And now, the World War II generation is retired, and everything is being run by the boomers.

You don’t need to know any more than that to see why the economy is a mess, and why there are very few people in the government who have the foggiest idea how to fix it. They were all taught either Keynesianism or socialism, and for most, real economics will have little chance of penetrating their educations.

In ten years, I think America will be an unrecognizable mess.

In twenty, it will be either a Camelot that has returned to the Constitution, or it will be totally fascist.

The outcome depends on what we do now. That’s why I wrote the Uncle Eric book, and it’s why I believe talking with the clergy is the indispensable key to the whole contest. It’s either God’s law or the government’s law; it can’t be both, because they currently contradict each other. We must return to a legal and political system based on the two laws.

Christianbook: Do you have any new advice for the up-and-coming generation of homeschoolers?

RICHARD MAYBURY: Yes. If you are not homeschooling your children, do it now, don’t delay, because there is no telling how long it will remain legal.

When governments get themselves into the kind of geopolitical and economic trouble Washington has stirred up for itself, the politicians and bureaucrats don’t want people thinking for themselves. They want “unity,” meaning, we all think the same way — the way they tell us to.

Homeschooling is diametrically opposed to groupthink, so I believe it will come under increasing pressure in many states. Do it now, while you still can.

Incidentally, on the subject of homeschooling, I’m the voice of experience. Whenever possible, I hire people who were homeschooled, and I can tell you for a fact that most are self-starters who are smarter, harder working, more clever, mature and honest, and have vastly better social skills. With rare exceptions, the leaders of tomorrow will not be the conventionally public schooled, they will be the homeschooled.

After all, it stands to reason. A child who is raised by someone who knows and loves her or him, is likely to be better off than one who is raised by strangers.

There’s also this. A deep, dark secret that no conventional public school wants us to understand is that the children aren’t really raised by the teachers, they are raised by the peer group.

A conventional public school is a peer pressure cooker. The teacher is spread far too thin to have much influence, but the peer group has the time and the manpower to spend hours per day, intensely focused on the individual child, to convert the child to whatever beliefs and behaviors are fashionable. It’s emotional mob rule, all day, every day.

And, the peer group knows the child much better than the teacher ever will. It knows every chink in the child’s emotional armor.

Lots of couples say they’ll take too big a cut in their income if one of them stays home to educate the children. I’ve seen more than one of these cases in which they ended up spending all that extra money on psychiatrists and lawyers.

To each parent, I say, no one loves your child as much as you do. Homeschool as much as you can while it’s still legal, because the child who is well-raised by the people who love him or her has a much better chance at happiness and success.

For God’s sake — and I mean that expression literally — a child is supposed to be raised by people who love the child! What could be more obvious?

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