Responses of Jon Roland to various criticisms and responses
on various textbooks
2002 September 11
For brevity, the Texas Public Policy Foundation will be abbreviated TPPF. Glencoe/McGraw-Hill by GMH. McDougal Littell by MDL. Holt Rinehart & Winston by HRW.
Re: GMH response to TPPF on Texas and Texans
340S. Contrary to the publisher's response, the text is in error. The error lies in conflating the "Union victory" with the Reconstruction administration and with the Reconstruction amendments. While it is correct that the Union victory made the Reconstruction administration and amendments possible, they are not the same. The Union victory was a military victory. That military victory did not include Reconstruction, and the two events need to be distinguished.
However there is also an error in the TPPF criticism. The Union victory did not decide that the states could not secede, as a matter of law. It only decided particular instances of secession for the moment. No amendment was adopted to clarify whether or how states might secede, or denying their right to do so. Arguably they could still secede, with the consent of Congress, through a reverse of the admission process, but the issue remains open.
Re: GMH response to TPPF on American Republic to 1877
19. (18S). There is no reliable scientific evidence that mammoth hunters used every part of the animal. That is a projection from historically documented practices of hunters of other game, such as bison. It can be expected that any primitive people will use any resource they can to the maximum extent, if the resource is scarce, uses can be found, and circumstances permit, but for mammoth hunters it is conjecture and should be treated as such, with a phrase such as "presumably used every part, if uses could be found and circumstances permitted".
It is also misleading to say "A single mammoth provided tons of meat, enough to feed a group of people for months". A single animal likely massed 2-4 tons, but less than half that weight was edible meat, and it is unlikely, without evidence to the contrary, that mammoth hunters had ways to preserve the meat for months, even under frozen conditions. Most primitive hunter-gatherers have to consume most game meat within a few days. Drying and smoking can preserve some of it longer, but probably not a large enough portion to salvage most of the meat of a mammoth. It is more likely they shared the meat with neighbors and ate it as fast as they could, but that is just conjecture.
30. (279S). The error lies in lumping "the Federalists" together as though they all spoke with one voice. Any given position should always be qualified by saying something like "a few Federalists" or "some Federalists". The same should be done with Anti-federalists.
39. (217S). The publisher's response is not correct. The "general welfare" clause of Art. I Sec. 8 is not a grant of power, but a restriction on the purposes for which taxes may lawfully be raised, and spent. It is a requirement that any taxation or spending be of general benefit to the nation as a whole, and not favor some regions or groups over others. This was the basis for the protective tariff debates. The publisher must take care that this error not be made in the text.
40. (208S). The publisher's proposed correction is incorrect. Locke's social contract was among the people, not between the people and a ruler. It was after the people united as a society that they appointed persons to serve as their magistrates. That was the main way his model differed from the earlier covenant models of Jean Bodin, Johannes Althusius and Samuel Rutherford, and resolved the ambiguity over who are the parties to the social contract in the treatment of the subject by Thomas Hobbes. See the works of these men at http://www.constitution.org/liberlib.htm.
Re: GMH response to TPPF on U.S. Government: Democracy in Action
2. (789). The publisher's proposed correction needs to be corrected in one detail: It should be "militia", singular, not "militias", plural. The original meaning of militia, and that used in the Second Amendment, is "defense activity". Although the term was sometimes also concretized by use of it to refer to those engaged in such activity, it is important to make the distinction that, as a matter of constitutional law, militia is primarily an activity and not an armed group. To check for correct grammatical usage in using the term, substitute "defense activity" for "militia" and make sure the grammatical forms work. For more on this see "Militia v. Inimicitia" at http://www.constitution.org/col/mil_inim.htm.
4. (555). The $1.5 billion figure for tax revenues is not correct. Publisher needs to break out the various sources of revenue for various levels of government, as of a particular year. Only then should the aggregate amounts for each type and level be divided by the estimated population as of that year.
It should also be mentioned somewhere that the income tax amendment did not authorize a new tax, but only made income taxes an exception to the constitutional requirement that direct taxes be apportioned by population. See comments on this point elsewhere.
12. (539). What is really needed here, to be correct, is an additional explanation that when the country was founded, a candidate could win a campaign for public office without having to spend a significant amount of money, because there was sufficient demand for information on candidates and issues by the public to justify publication of such information in the press, at no cost to the candidates. The text should examine how and why the transition occurred to a situation in which a candidate can get very little attention without spending large amounts on advertising. The text, as presently written, erroneously seems to implicitly support restrictions on donations, on spending, or requiring disclosure, without indicating that the solution might be to make such spending unnecessary by increasing public demand for political information.
15. (119T). The TPPF criticism is not quite correct. Texas is unique in that its terms of admission, evidenced in the joint resolution of admission, allows it to split itself into up to five states, with the consent of a vote by the people of Texas, but without the further consent of Congress, which the U.S. Constitution implicitly provides. Arguably, that joint resolution of admission can be considered prior consent by Congress to such a division, thereby depriving Texas of its special status. However, for any other state, the consent of Congress would follow a specific proposal to divide, probably from the state, and might be withheld. In the case of Texas, the consent is to any division Texas might propose, and may not now be refused or rescinded without breaching the terms of admission. The same admission resolution provided for Texas to own its tidelands, the coastal land between the low and high tide lines, which for other coastal states is owned by the federal government.
17. (793). The publisher is correct, and women's suffrage was always an option for the states. The text should add that New Jersey extended the right to vote to women with their own property in its constitution from 1776 to 1807, when they lost the right, allegedly due to abuses. In 1838 Kentucky passed a law granting "school suffrage", the right of women to vote in school board elections. See http://www.pbs.org/onewoman/one_woman.html.
Re: GMH response to TPPF on Economics: Principles and Practice
4. (38T). Although not perhaps part of the text, the publisher's response is not correct in saying that in a pure market economy the government plays no role in providing for the less fortunate. That is making an invalid assumption about what kinds of economic and political systems can be combined within the same society. A society is not just an economy, it is a polity, and various economic and political systems can be mated in diverse ways. Complete market theory encompasses not only for-profit enterprises, but non-profit eleemosynary enterprises as well, which provide such services, funded by private donations and investments. Indeed, such non-profits comprise a large part of most market economies. Any complete textbook on economics needs to discuss eleemosynary enterprises, and this textbook neglects them. The same applies to the other text, Economics: Today and Tomorrow.
Re: GMH response to TPPF on Glencoe World History
One error not mentioned by TPPF is omission of discussion of the Global Climatic Event of 535 AD, attributed to the volcanic eruption of Krakatoa in February of that year which caused a global collapse of agriculture for several years, famine and the spread of plagues, which caused several civilizations to fall and ushered in the Dark Age. The Keys hypothesis of this event is now sufficiently developed to justify reporting it in a world history text. It is arguably one of the most significant events in the last 2000 years, and explains a great deal. For more on this see http://www.hbci.com/~wenonah/history/535ad.htm.
Re: GMH response to Raborn on democracy vs. republic
The publisher's response, while not incorrect, needs to better explain the difference, recognized by the Founders, between a republic, in which political decisionmaking is structured and limited by a constitution that enforces deliberation and protects the rights of individuals and minorities, and a democracy, in which decisionmaking is majoritarian, without constraints that encourage deliberation and protection of individual rights. The use of elected representatives, while a standard feature of republics, is not a defining attribute. The model could be fulfilled by other methods, such as randomly selected representatives, as is done with a jury. An attribute that is key, however, is a procedure for deliberation.
Re: GMH response to oral testimony
This is to commend GMH for reproducing the entire transcript of the hearing. This was very helpful in putting it online at http://www.constitution.org/reform/us/us/textbook/textbook.htm.
Re: GMH treatment of Texas history
An important point that is not made sufficiently clear is that the defenders of the Alamo were not fighting for independence, but for compliance with the Mexican Constitution of 1824, which was being violated by Santa Anna. Independence was declared during the seige of the Alamo, but the defenders didn't know about it. The defenders flew a flag with "1824" written on it.
Re: GMH response on John Locke in Western Experience
Although GMH is to be commended for introducing the student to John Locke and Thomas Hobbes, it too narrowly identifies Locke's special use of the term "property" with the landholdings of the gentry. His term had a much broader and more subtle meaning, closer to the term chosen by Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence, "pursuit of happiness". For Locke, the notion encompassed the means to pursue other rights, in which one could acquire property rights by labor. It included property of all kinds, including natural, social and contractual rights and property in one's person.
For a complete treatment, GMH should trace the chain of development of republican ideas through several authors:
All these works, except the one by Pufendorf which has not yet been rendered, are online at http://www.constitution.org/liberlib.htm. They show how republican ideas did not spring up suddenly, but were the product of a long historical progression to which the student should be at least briefly introduced.
Re: MDL response to TPPF on World History: Patterns of Interaction
6. (647). Both the reviewer's criticism and the publisher's response are in error. Malthus did not predict that population would be limited only by famine, disease and war. He said it would be limited by "virtue" or "vice". "Vice" included famine, disease and war. "Virtue" included various forms of social constraint, such as late marriage, dowery requirements, and other forms of chastity, backed by religious teaching. Contraception was not a well-developed technology at the time, but was not unknown. The predictions have not proven wrong. Both "virtue" and "vice" have operated to limit population growth. It is recommended that both reviewer and textbook author actually read An Essay on the Principle of Population, rather than only commentaries on it, before writing about it. See http://www.constitution.org/cmt/malthus/population.htm
Re: HRW response to TPPF on Call to Freedom
16. (276T). Both reviewer and publisher are in error. The Ninth and Tenth Amendments recognized pre-existing rights against the actions of government, but not powers. "Reserved powers" are not delegations of power, but restrictions on powers, which is the complement of rights against the actions of government. It needs to be explained that every delegated power is complemented by a restriction of a right, and every right against the action of government is complemented by a restriction of a power. They are just two different ways of expressing the same boundary between public and private action.
17. (286S). Both TPPF and HRW are deficient on the Second Amendment. The "unorganized" militia is a term of art introduced by the Dick Act of 1903 and restated as 10 USC 311. See http://www.constitution.org/mil/ustx_law.htm. The primary meaning of "militia" as used by the Framers in the Constitution is "defense activity", and secondarily as one or more persons engaged in such activity, therefore it should always be written as "militia", singular, rather than "militias", plural. See http://www.constitution.org/col/mil_inim.htm. The term used as persons has different meanings in different contexts. Sometimes it refers to the general militia, all those who have a moral duty to defend. Sometimes to the mandatory militia, those who may be penalized for failing to respond to a call-up by an official or other person aware of a threat, which normally excludes some officials and others whose official or professional duties take precedence over their militia duties. This is the sense in which it is used in 10 USC 311 and the laws of most states. Sometimes to the actual militia, those who actually respond, which could include those not legally required to do so. Sometimes to a select militia, some subset of those required to serve. A select militia is supposed to be selected at random or in a way that represents a cross-section of the population. (A jury is a specialized form of select militia for the purpose of adjudication, a law enforcement function.) Not all states define the mandatory militia, and none of them use the term "unorganized" in their laws. Militia is not supposed to be unorganized.
The National Guard is organized under the clause of raising an army, not under the militia clauses. See The Right to Keep and Bear Arms Report of the Senate Subcommitee on the Constitution, 1982. http://www.constitution.org/mil/rkba1982.htm
On this topic, it is a error to opt for presenting the prevailing view, because there isn't one. The choice needs to be to present multiple opposing views.
18. (289S). It is an error to associate public education with the Ninth Amendment, which is only about rights against the positive actions of government, not rights to receive anything that requires expenditures from public funds. Even due process rights, which involve public expenditures, are contingent on public expenditures on prosecutions. However, it is also an error to say that the Constitution does not address education. It provides for Congress to prescribe how the states are to train the militia, and that is a kind of education, which arguably could include most academic subjects.
Re: HRW response to TPPF on American Government
4. (56). It is an error to say that "the idea of a living Constitution" has "guided judicial interpretation", as quoted from the American Political Dictionary. The term "living" applied to the Constitution is an ideological code word for statist or progressivist interpretive doctrines. It is not just about recognizing publication of a web site as covered by the First Amendment term "press". It more often about stretching the Commerce Clause and Necessary and Proper Clause to confer nearly plenary police powers on the federal government. HRW needs to just delete all uses of the term in this way, unless it is in quotes and presented in opposition to originalist doctrines.
There is also a problem with using references like the American Political Dictionary. I have contributed articles to such references, and while my articles were carefully researched and written to be free of political bias, in several cases I have had to argue with editors who tried to alter my articles to put an ideological slant on them. Obviously, not all the contributors resisted such efforts. I have also found that the quality of the articles and the expertise of the contributors is highly uneven. You should always refer to original source materials. Don't rely on commentaries or references spun by people with political agendas.
The above comment also applies to the HRW response to Stan Smith on Call to Freedom.