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Thursday, December 26, 2019

FEE’s Top 10 Articles of the Decade

As we approach 2020 here at FEE, we're happy to share with you the most popular articles of the past decade.

Image credit: Kohji Asakawa on Pixabay | Pixabay license (

It’s been a wild decade, especially here at FEE. We’ve covered a lot of stories and ideas throughout the past 10 years, but a few seem to emerge as favorites. We decided to compile the 10 most popular articles published on

As 2020 dawns upon us, we hope that you continue to support FEE’s mission to make the ideas of liberty familiar, credible, and compelling to the rising generation. Below is the list, ranked from the 10th most popular article to the 1st. Enjoy!

10. The ADHD Overdiagnosis Epidemic Is a Schooling Problem, Not a Child One

Starting our list off at #10, FEE Senior Education Fellow Kerry McDonald tackles the recent explosion in ADHD diagnoses. Who’s to blame for this “epidemic”? Is it the children themselves? No, McDonald argues, it’s actually a schooling problem:

Childhood exuberance is now a liability. Behaviors that were once accepted as normal, even if mildly irritating to adults, are increasingly viewed as unacceptable and cause for medical intervention. High energy, lack of impulse control, inability to sit still and listen, lack of organizational skills, fidgeting, talking incessantly—these typical childhood qualities were widely tolerated until relatively recently. Today, children with these characteristics are being diagnosed with, and often medicated for, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) at an astonishing rate.

While ADHD may be a real and debilitating ailment for some, the startling upsurge in school-age children being labeled with and medicated for this disorder suggests that something else could be to blame. More research points to schooling, particularly early schooling, as a primary culprit in the ADHD diagnosis epidemic.

9. John Locke: Natural Rights to Life, Liberty, and Property

Taking the #9 spot is a perennial favorite at FEE. This piece gives a comprehensive overview of the life and philosophy of John Locke, covering his birth, exile, influential writings, and final years. This is a must read for anyone interested in the evolution of Western thought and the philosophical underpinnings of the birth of America.

[John Locke] expressed the radical view that government is morally obliged to serve people, namely by protecting life, liberty, and property. He explained the principle of checks and balances to limit government power. He favored representative government and a rule of law. He denounced tyranny. He insisted that when government violates individual rights, people may legitimately rebel.

8. Are AR-15 Rifles a Public Safety Threat? Here’s What the Data Say

At #8 is an article by “Being Classically Liberal,” who wrote an excellent piece on the misconception that the AR-15 is a unique threat to public safety. He cites FBI statistics to make the point that rifle homicides make up a very small portion of overall homicides, especially compared to knives.

Mass shootings involving rifles like the AR-15 can produce dozens of victims at one time, and combined with extensive media coverage of these events, many people have been led to believe that such rifles pose a significant threat to public safety.

However, such shootings are extremely rare, and a look at the FBI data informs us that homicide with these types of rifles represents an extremely small fraction of overall homicide violence. Banning or confiscating such firearms from the civilian population would likely produce little to no reduction in violent crime rates in America.

7. The StingRay Is Exactly Why the 4th Amendment Was Written

The article taking the #7 spot is a look into the device known as the “StingRay.” It is used by police to mimic cell phone towers, which prompts all phones in the area to connect to it and can be mounted in vehicles, drones, helicopters, and airplanes. Author Olivia Donaldson argues that the device is often employed unconstitutionally:

The drafters of the Constitution recognized that restricting the government from violating privacy is essential for a free society. That’s why the Fourth Amendment exists. The StingRay is creating a dangerous precedent that tells the government that it’s okay for them to violate our rights. Because of this, freedom is quietly slipping out the window.

6. The Myth That the US Leads the World in Mass Shootings

At the #6 spot is FEE’s very own Managing Editor, Jon Miltimore, who takes a look at the claim that the US leads the world in mass shootings. Before doing the research, Miltimore would have guessed that America does lead the world in mass shootings, but the statistics tell a different story.

As Investor’s Business Daily noted on these findings, “Yes, the US rate is still high, and nothing to be proud of. But it’s not the highest in the developed world. Not by a long shot.”

If this is true, how did the narrative that the US leads the world in mass shootings become the conventional wisdom? The myth, it turns out, stems from University of Alabama associate professor Adam Lankford.

5. How Government-Guaranteed Student Loans Killed the American Dream for Millions

Article #5 on this list looks at student loan debt. It’s an issue crushing young Americans, who face massive debt and lower return on degrees. For this reason, it might be tempting to support student debt “cancellation” policies, but the problem could be government-backed loans in the first place, argues author Daniel Kowalski:

The government’s backing of student loans has caused the price of higher education to artificially rise; the demand would not be so high if college were not a financially viable option for some. Young people have been led to believe that a diploma is the ticket to the American dream, but that’s not the case for many Americans.

4. The Myth of Scandinavian Socialism

At #4 is another perennial favorite at FEE, an article that addresses the claim that Scandinavian nations are socialist. As author Corey Iacono points out, these countries are not “socialis,” and actually rank as high or higher in ease of doing business than America.

While it is true that the Scandinavian countries provide things like a generous social safety net and universal health care, an extensive welfare state is not the same thing as socialism. What Sanders and his supporters confuse as socialism is actually social democracy, a system in which the government aims to promote the public welfare through heavy taxation and spending, within the framework of a capitalist economy. This is what the Scandinavians practice.

3. Poverty in the US Was Plummeting—Until Lyndon Johnson Declared War On It

Article #3 is a piece by economist Dan Mitchell, who observes how poverty was decreasing in America until President Lyndon Johnson declared war on it. In his article, Mitchell pulls together an impressive amount of information making the case that government intervention to eradicate poverty has failed to achieve its aims. He quotes a Wall Street Journal op-ed detailing economic data before and after Johnson’s War on Poverty:

During the 20 years before the War on Poverty was funded, the portion of the nation living in poverty had dropped to 14.7% from 32.1%. Since 1966, the first year with a significant increase in antipoverty spending, the poverty rate reported by the Census Bureau has been virtually unchanged…Transfers targeted to low-income families increased in real dollars from an average of $3,070 per person in 1965 to $34,093 in 2016…Transfers now constitute 84.2% of the disposable income of the poorest quintile of American households and 57.8% of the disposable income of lower-middle-income households. These payments also make up 27.5% of America’s total disposable income.

2. Harvard Study: “Gender Wage Gap” Explained Entirely by Work Choices of Men and Women

At the #2 spot (the accomplished little brother), is a detailed and calculated piece about the gender wage gap. Though some still insist that gender bias and male privilege account for the gap, a Harvard study shows that the difference in earnings can be attributed to choice. The author of the piece, economist John Phelan, states,

If we truly want to measure the impact of sexism on male and female relative earnings, we want to look at men and women doing exactly the same job at exactly the same place. Fortunately, a new study… does just this. [Valentin Bolotnyy and Natalia Emanuael] look at data from the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA)… The author’s concluded, “the gap of $0.89 in our setting can be explained entirely by the fact that, while having the same choice sets in the workplace, women and men make different choices.

1. Harvard Study Shows the Dangers of Early School Enrollment

And the moment we’ve all been waiting for… Holding down the #1 spot is a massively popular piece from the aforementioned Kerry McDonald, who cites a Harvard study to make the case that enrolling children in school at an early age can drastically increase their chance of being diagnosed with ADHD. McDonald states,

It should be no surprise that as we place young children in artificial learning environments, separated from their family for long lengths of time, and expect them to comply with a standardized, test-driven curriculum, it will be too much for many of them.

New findings by Harvard Medical School researchers confirm that it’s not the children who are failing, it’s the schools we place them in too early…The study’s lead researcher… concludes: “Our findings suggest the possibility that large numbers of kids are being overdiagnosed and overtreated for ADHD because they happen to be relatively immature compared to their older classmates in the early years of elementary school.”