I mentioned on my recent interview on the School Sucks Project podcast that in high school I started “The 1% Club” as a joke during the height of the Occupy Wall Street Protests. Some listeners asked me if I had if more details on that club so here they are.
Funny enough, I had forgotten all about that until recently when I stumbled across some old papers while visiting my family home in California. The papers brought back all sorts of memories, good and bad. I was reminded on the one hand how fun it was in high school to put the administrators and teachers in uncomfortable positions. They deserved it, after all, I told myself then (and now).
On the other hand, I thought of all the time that was wasted during compulsory schooling. I will never put my kids through that.
But mostly, I just laughed. The expressed purpose of The 1% Club was borrowed from Ayn Rand’s essay Big Business: Americans Most Persecuted Minority and went as follows:
To protect the interests of Americas persecuted minority, businessmen, and to promote capitalistic ideas in an effort to serve the under-represented producers.
The only “duty” members of the club had was:
Read Ayn Rand books and understand the Austrian School of Economics.
Not bad for a group of high schoolers. I would give out copies of Anthem by Ayn Rand, Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal by Ayn Rand and Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt to all new “members,” of which there were only a few.
And I put that in quotes because the club was not approved and we held our meetings unofficially. The administrators were not pleased and it caused a bit of a stir on campus.
Still, that year was one of the most intellectually productive years of my life and I have that club and other non-school activities to thank for that.
As I mentioned on the podcast episode, those ideas laid the philosophical foundations for so much of the things I would later do in my career and education path. They also laid the practice foundations in the sense that the activity taught me that not only was it possible to self educate, it was preferable.
My involvement with organizations like Students for Liberty, my work on Ron Paul’s campaign, my attendance at the Clarkson Colloquium where I met my future colleagues, the club I ran at the University of Michigan, and my decision to drop out and build my life without a degree all came in part from that year of The 1% Club.
It was the best of times and the worst of times…