Online Courses in Civics Education
As part of our online civics education program, Allied Educational Foundation has co-sponsored a series of online courses with the FreedomWorks Foundation. The purpose of these courses is to provide an analysis of the history of our democratic system, as well as the construction and application of the constitution with a focus on the Bill of Rights and the balance between state and federal powers. We regard this information as fundamental for understanding the basis of many conflicts between the states and the federal government, including health care and drug reform.
HIST101: Founding the American Republic
Instructor: Judge Andrew Napolitano
The Founding Fathers created the Constitution in order to protect individuals and limit the power of government. In this course Judge Napolitano examines how and why the Constitution was created, and also discusses how the protections of the Constitution have eroded over time, resulting in an expansive and more powerful federal government. Judge Andrew Napolitano is a Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst and is a graduate of Princeton University and the University of Notre Dame Law School. He is the youngest life-tenured Superior Court judge in the history of the State of New Jersey. Judge Napolitano lectures nationally on the U.S. Constitution, the rule of law, civil liberties in wartime, and human freedom. He has been published in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, and numerous other publications. His weekly newspaper column is seen by millions every week. Judge Napolitano is the author of seven books on the U.S. Constitution, two of which have been New York Times best sellers. His most recent book is Theodore and Woodrow: How Two American Presidents Destroyed Constitutional Freedom.
Judge Andrew Napolitano explains how America came to be. After oppressive laws from the British drove the original thirteen colonies to revolution, the Founding Fathers were determined to create a new nation based on the principles of limited government and individual liberty. After the war, the colonies were united under the Articles of Confederation, which ultimately led to the framing of the U.S. Constitution.
Judge Andrew Napolitano explains that, even among the Founding Fathers, there was some disagreement over where our rights come from. Do they come from government, or are they intrinsic to our humanity? The ten amendments in the Bill of Rights were crafted to clarify that our rights and freedoms are natural, and cannot be taken away by any government.
Judge Andrew Napolitano explains that the Commerce Clause in the U.S. Constitution was introduced in order to facilitate trade between the states. Unfortunately, Congress and the Courts have interpreted the clause as giving almost unlimited authority over commerce. This clause has been used to justify everything from New Deal era production quotas to the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that all Americans purchase health insurance.
Judge Andrew Napolitano explains how the progressive era was marked by a huge expansion of the federal government and its power to regulate the states and individual behavior. The Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution, authorizing the federal income tax, gave the government increased control over our hard-earned money; and the Seventeenth Amendment, providing for popular election of senators, removed an important obstacle to federal control of the states.
Judge Andrew Napolitano explains that, despite the Tenth Amendment’s protection of federalism, the Supreme Court has ruled that Congress can use taxpayer money any way it likes. With this loophole, the federal government is able to incentivize states to do whatever it wants, by offering juicy funding grants, or threatening to withhold them. The codification of this kind of bribery has effectively put an end to federalism in the modern age.
ISSU102: Protecting Your Civil Liberties
Instructors: Reid Smith, Jeff Scully, and Whitney Neal
This course gives an overview of the basic civil liberties afforded to every American. You’ll learn how to protect your rights at home, at school, in your car, and when you are peacefully protesting. Once you have completed the course, you will be ready to educate others about civil liberties as well as to practice them. Because as Thomas Jefferson said, “the People are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.”
Civil liberties are your constitutional rights to not be harassed, bullied, or spied on by your government. Today, these liberties are in more danger than ever, with the NSA, IRS, and other government agencies exceeding their constitutional authority. This lesson explains how civil disobedience and non-violent resistance have historically been effective tools for fighting to preserve liberty.
The ten amendments in the Bill of Rights guarantee that our government cannot abridge our most basic freedoms by abusing its power. Because of the Bill of Rights, we have the right to free speech, freedom of religion, the right to due process, protection from self-incrimination, and protection from cruel and unusual punishment. Today, the government is all too often inclined to ignore the Bill of Rights, but our founders understood the importance of defending the civil liberties of American citizens.
You don’t forfeit your civil liberties just because you are behind the wheel of a vehicle. In this lesson, we address what you should do when confronted by a police officer, and more importantly, what you don’t have to do. The Fourth Amendment applies to your car as well as your home, and the police cannot detain you indefinitely without charging you with a crime. And, of course, you always have the right to remain silent.
For parents, few things are more concerning than the thought that your children’s rights might be in danger. But inside a public school, parental rights are greatly diminished. Several courts have ruled that parental rights are basically non-existent within school walls, and there is little limit on what school officials can do without your consent. This lesson explains what you can do to protect your children from government overreach.
When you’re out in public and people can see you, you don’t have any special right to privacy. At home, however, it’s a different story. The Fourth Amendment protects you against unreasonable searches, meaning that police cannot enter your home without your permission or a valid warrant. Everyone has a reasonable expectation of privacy at home, so long as you are not clearly visible or audible to people outside.
Today, much of our personal information is stored online, on our hard drives, or in the cloud. But just because information is intangible doesn’t mean the Fourth Amendment no longer applies. This lesson will teach you what you can do to protect your online privacy from the prying eyes of the government.
The First Amendment’s protection of free speech was not designed for the benefit of what is popular or uncontroversial. It exists to protect Americans’ rights to criticize their government. As long as you comply with local ordinances, the police cannot stop you from engaging in a peaceful protest or demonstration, even if they don’t like what you have to say.
ECON 101: Understanding Economics
Instructors: Peter Schiff, Veronique de Rugy, Donald Bordreau, Bryan Caplan, Jeffrey Tucker, Wayne T. Brough, Ph.D., and Steven Horwitz
This course will examine the important role that markets play in allocating scarce resources. Special emphasis will be given to the ability of markets to convey important information that allows disparate individuals to coordinate their economic activities. This course will also contrast the market with government command-and-control policies for resource allocation. The work of both Hayek and Mises will provide the foundation for this course.
Veronique de Rugy is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. De Rugy writes regular columns for Reason magazine and the Washington Examiner, and she blogs about economics at National Review Online’s the Corner. Previously, she has been a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a policy analyst at the Cato Institute, and a research fellow at the Atlas Economic Research Foundation. Before moving to the United States, she oversaw academic programs in France for the Institute for Humane Studies Europe. She received her M.A. in economics from the Paris Dauphine University and her Ph.D. in economics from the Pantheon-Sorbonne University.
Donald J. Boudreaux is a senior fellow at the Mercatus Center and a professor of economics and former economics-department chair at George Mason University. He holds the Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center. He specializes in globalization and trade, law and economics, and antitrust economics. He is the author of the books Hypocrites and Half-Wits: A Daily Dose of Sanity from Cafe Hayek and Globalization. His articles appear in such publications as theWall Street Journal and US News & World Report, as well as numerous scholarly journals. He writes a blog (with Russell Roberts) called Cafe Hayek and a regular column on economics for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has appeared numerous times on John Stossel’s show on Fox Business, to discuss a range of economic issues. Boudreaux earned a Ph.D. in economics from Auburn University and a law degree from the University of Virginia.
Bryan Caplan is a Professor of Economics at George Mason University and Senior Scholar at the Mercatus Center. He is the author of The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies (named “the best political book of the year” by the New York Times), and Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids: Why Being a Great Parent Is Less Work and More Fun Than You Think. He has published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the American Economic Review, the Economic Journal, theJournal of Law and Economics, and Intelligence, and has appeared on 20/20, FoxNews, and C-SPAN. He is now working on a new book, The Case Against Education. His webpage, bcaplan.com, features both his academic research and his numerous other interests, including the online Museum of Communism.
Jeffrey Tucker is the publisher and executive editor of Laissez-Faire Books, the Primus inter pares of the Laissez Faire Club, and the author of Bourbon for Breakfast: Living Outside the Statist Quo, It’s a Jetsons World: Private Miracles and Public Crimes, and A Beautiful Anarchy: How to Build Your Own Civilization in the Digital Age, among thousands of articles.
Wayne T. Brough is the Chief Economist and Vice President of Research at FreedomWorks. He received a Ph.D. in economics from George Mason University, with fields in industrial organization and public choice. Dr. Brough previously worked at the Office of Management and Budget, focusing on transportation regulations; the United States Agency for International Development, focusing on market reforms in Africa; and in the research branch of an investment bank, where he covered U.S. domestic policies. He has testified before Congress and regulatory agencies on a number of issues.
Steven Horwitz is the Charles A. Dana Professor of Economics and department chair at St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY. He completed his M.A. and Ph.D. in economics at George Mason University and received his A.B. in economics and philosophy from The University of Michigan. He is the author of two books, Microfoundations and Macroeconomics: An Austrian Perspective and Monetary Evolution, Free Banking, and Economic Order, and he has written extensively on Austrian economics, Hayekian political economy, monetary theory and history, and macroeconomics. In addition to several dozen articles in numerous professional journals, he has also done nationally recognized public policy work on the role of the private sector during Hurricane Katrina for the Mercatus Center, where he is an Affiliated Senior Scholar. He is also a Senior Fellow of the Fraser Institute in Canada. The author of numerous op-eds, Horwitz is a frequent guest on TV and radio programs, particularly speaking on the Great Recession and monetary policy. His current research is on the economics and social theory of the family, and he is working on a book on classical liberalism and the family.
Veronique de Rugy explains what the study of economics involves, how economists think, and some common misconceptions about economic theory. Fundamentally, economics is the study of individual human action and the decisions people make in their daily life. This lesson shows that economics is about more than just numbers and statistics.
Veronique de Rugy explains that opportunity cost of a good or service is what you have to give up, or forego, to get it. This lesson introduces the concepts of marginal analysis, diminishing returns, and subjective value that serve as the cornerstones of modern economics. Thinking at the margin is the first step towards thinking like an economist.
Bryan Caplan explains one of the core truths of economics: people respond to incentives. Incentives drive the actions of buyers and sellers in markets, and where government policies go wrong is failing to adequately account for these incentive effects. This analysis shows why government planning fails, while markets succeed.
Steven Horwitz explains how political and legal institutions provide the framework within which all human behavior takes place. The way contracts are enforced, property is protected, and markets are regulated create incentives and channel action in different ways. In this way, institutions play a large role in determining a society’s success – or failure.
Donald Boudreaux explains how scarce resources are allocated in a free economy. The price system, where every producer is free to charge what he wants, contains an immense amount of information that tells producers how much to make, and consumers how much to buy. Through millions of transactions every day, coordination happens throughout an entire economy—which is impossible for a central authority to replicate.
Wayne Brough explains how the robust threat of competition keeps firms eager to please their customers. A competitive market results in lower prices and a higher quality of goods for consumers, and it prevents firms from being able to abuse market power. But when monopolies occur, there is no competition, and the consequences can be very dangerous.
Jeffrey Tucker discusses the role of the entrepreneur in identifying and taking advantage of economic opportunities. The ability to anticipate and meet market needs allows economies to be flexible and innovative in ways that are impossible through central control. The special quality of entrepreneurship is an alertness to things that don’t exist yet—products and services that consumers don’t even know they want. Profits and losses provide the feedback necessary to steer entrepreneurs in the right direction.
ECON102: A Guide to Economic Policy
Instructor: Peter Schiff
This course will examine the economy as a whole, and how government policies affect economic outcomes. The importance and nature of money will be discussed, and the causes and consequences of business cycles will be evaluated. The goal of any economic policies should be to promote growth and prosperity, and various government actions will be assessed on this basis. Instructor Peter Schiff is an American economist, author, and financial commentator. A licensed stock broker, Schiff is also the president of Euro Pacific Capital, headquartered in Westport, Connecticut. He appears frequently as guest on CNBC, Fox News, and Bloomberg Television, and also hosts the popular radio show and podcast, The Peter Schiff Show. His most recent book is The Real Crash.
Peter Schiff explains the concept of moral hazard—the idea that policies designed to reduce risk often result in perverse incentives that lead to bad behavior. When the government tries to mitigate the cost of risky behavior, you end up with a lot more risky behavior, and it is easy for this effect to snowball and cause well-intentioned programs to completely fail and fall apart.
The price of money—also known as interest rates—is arguably the most important price in the economy, and when government fixes these rates below the market level, the markets are distorted and we end up with more borrowing and more debt than we should have. The Federal Reserve is creating an addiction to cheap money, and like any other addiction, there’s only one way to kick the habit and return to a state of fiscal sanity.
Peter Schiff sheds light on monetary policy, an important area of economics that few Americans actually know anything about. This lesson offers a crash course in how the Federal Reserve Bank operates, how it came to be in the first place, and how it has become more powerful and more dangerous over the hundred years of its existence.
Peter Schiff gives insight on the business cycle, booms and busts, expansions and recessions that are baffling to many economists across the political spectrum. Most people still think that recessions occur randomly or are caused by irrational behavior by consumers. Only the Austrian School of economics has a fully-developed theory to account for the business cycle—that booms and busts are caused by government intervention in markets, sending distorted signals to investors. The resulting malinvestments are the cause of booms and busts.
ISSU101: Activist Involvement in the Common Core
Instructor: Whitney Neal
Common Core is a special-interest takeover of education that replaces local control with national standards, treating every child as though they are the same and learn in the same way. These standards affect every school in the nation by allowing big business and bureaucrats into the classroom. The standards established through Common Core fail to account for innovation or critical thinking. Education should be about rewarding excellence and treating children like the unique individuals they are—not a race to mediocrity and commonality. This four-part series is an educational tool that serves as a comprehensive course regarding a new, nationalized curriculum known as the Common Core State Standards. The series begins with a history of the process and continues by describing why grassroots activists are so concerned about its dangers limitations. Students will learn about the back-door deals that were necessary for special interest groups, and what they can do to get involved in their local communities to fight back.
This lesson explores the complex web of special interests and federal bureaucrats who developed, incentivized, and implemented Common Core. Through “Race to the Top” and “No Child Left Behind,” the Department of Education essentially forced states to adopt the standards by threatening to withhold funding and badly needed waivers.
Whenever you see bad policy in action, chances are there are a lot of powerful interests who stand to benefit from it. This lesson reveals how a large number of groups are financially invested in imposing one set of federal standards on schools across the country. Following the money is key to understanding how and why government conspires with special interests to take over our education system.
Common Core was initially adopted by forty-five states and the District of Columbia, but as the devastating effects of the standards became apparent, the willingness to fight back has increased. This lesson focuses on how and where Common Core is being implemented, and what individuals are doing to stop it and return local control to our education system.
Learn how you can get involved in the fight to defeat Common Core at the state and national level. By educating yourself on how Common Core works, engaging with local communities and online, and educating your legislators on the issue, we maximize our influence. Often legislators simply don’t know how bad a policy is, or don’t care, until they hear from their constituents. Most importantly, don’t give up!
ISSU103: The Judiciary
Instructor: Ken Cuccinelli
The Founding Fathers installed three equal branches of government to serve as checks and balances to one another. The legislative branch writes the law, the executive branch enacts it, and the judicial branch interprets and enforces the law. But the role of the courts is too often forgotten, and abuses of power go unnoticed. This course is designed to shine a light on this neglected function of government, exposing its strengths as well as its weaknesses. Ken Cuccinelli is the current President of the Senate Conservatives Fund, a grassroots organization dedicated to electing conservative leaders to the U.S. Senate. He was the Virginia Attorney General from 2010-2014, and was best known for his efforts to preserve liberty and defend the U.S. Constitution. Prior to that, he served as a member of the Virginia State Senate, where his experience as a small business owner and attorney uniquely prepared him to serve on the Courts of Justice Committee, Transportation Committee, Local Government Committee, Rehabilitation and Social Services Committee, and the Agriculture, Conservation, and Natural Resources Committee.
Ken Cuccinelli shows how the judicial branch of government was originally conceived as a passive institution designed to resolve disputes. For this reason, people tend to focus on the more active executive and legislative branches. But as the judiciary has become more activist, we need to take a greater interest in how the third branch of government works.
As we witness increasing levels of judicial overreach and activism from the bench, Ken Cuccinelli discusses the importance of paying attention to what judges are doing, and holding them accountable. He also explains the difference between the American system of justice and those in other countries.
Ken Cuccinelli discusses the modern issues of our judicial system, addressing the rise of the overbearing and unconstitutional administrative state made up of dozens of regulatory agencies with executive, legislative, and judicial powers. Additionally, Cuccinelli discusses where and how the country has moved away from the Founders’ intent for the three branches of government, and the problems that arise from judicial activism and legislating from the bench.
Ken Cuccinelli describes the revelations about the nature and scope of the National Security Agency (NSA) spying on innocent Americans as a wake-up call for lovers of liberty. He explains how the government is violating our basic civil liberties, and how he, along with FreedomWorks, has launched a legal defense of our rights to privacy, demanding that the NSA stop collecting data without a warrant and destroy any data they have already collected in this way.
ISSU104: The Justice System
Instructor: Andrew Smith
What is the purpose of the justice system? Is it meant to punish or protect? Should we focus on compensating victims, rehabilitating offenders, or simply removing society’s undesirables from sight? A lack of clarity on these questions has led to a justice system that is at times arbitrary and nonsensical. This course examines the ways the justice system fails us as citizens, and what we can do to make it better.
The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the developed world. This is not because Americans are more inclined to criminality than other nationalities, but rather is the result of overcriminalization, inflexible sentencing rules, and a lack of clear limits on government authority. In the interests of appearing “tough on crime,” too many politicians have enacted policies that make little sense, and do more harm than good.
Civil asset forfeiture is a practice that allows law enforcement to seize property if they suspect it was involved in a crime. It is then up to the property owner to prove their innocence, even if they are never charged with a crime. This inverts the classic American principle of innocent until proven guilty, and denies citizens their Fifth Amendment right to due process.
Sentencing decisions have traditionally been made by judges, but since the 1980s, the use of federal mandatory minimum sentences has been increasingly common. This policy inserts big government into the courtroom, contributes to prison overcrowding, and misallocates resources away from society’s worst criminals.
The justice system shows little distinction between juvenile offenders and adults, but there are unique challenges we face when dealing with the young. A youthful indiscretion can lead to a criminal conviction that separates a child from his parents and permanently cripples his chances of becoming a productive member of society.