Monday, March 8, 2010

Socialism, liberty, and my education

A couple days ago I got caught in the Wikipedia trap, you know the one where you are looking for a specific topic and end up clicking over five or six other articles to something completely unrelated (the jump from bananas to fossil fuels is not as far as you'd think!).  I wound up reading about Che Guevara and the Cuban Revolution in the 1950's.

I spent some time looking at the roots of Che's philosophies and I came to a startling revelation about my own education.

See, Che's influences included Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels and I quickly realized that in my education, both in high-school and at the collegiate level, I was exposed to the thoughts and ideas of socialism far more than I was to the ideas that were the cornerstones of the nation I lived in, namely liberty and capitalism.

It was disheartening to think that the education system I grew up in focused more on the antithesis of our nation's principles than the ideas that make America unique.  Documents like Thomas Paine's Common Sense, the writings of our founding fathers, the free-market ideas of modern thinker Milton Friedman were all ideas I had to discover on my own.

Perhaps it was assumed that while being taught these ideas about European socialism students knew about the United States' history, how economies function, and that young minds were truly able to digest the heavy concept of personal liberty.  Honestly though, I'm not sure that's the case.  More and more we are seeing that Americans on the whole truly do not have a basic understand of policy, the Constitution and how economies work.

These things need to be taught in schools. The achievements and concepts behind the United States need to be more than just a one week reading assignment in a civics class. Liberty, personal freedom, and the Constitution should be the bedrock of understanding for students in our classrooms.


Hempy said...

Like most of the Bluegrass Policy (BGP) staffers, you evidence little or no reading of Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations or any of the writings of Alexander Hamilton.

You mentioned "free-market ideas", yet the basis for those ideas is a repudiation of prohibition. Currently, the US government is engaged in a war on drugs (mostly marijuana) in violation of free-market principles. You cite Milton Friedman. He was an advocate of ending drug prohibition.

But BGP staffers loathe and detest the very idea of removing all things hemp from the Controlled Substances Act. Why? BGP staffers are not as capitalistic as they profess. In fact, their ideology is rooted and grounded in feudalism.

Feudalism is the philosophy that is expounded by BGP. That's the same philosophy that Grover Norquist spouts off.

If economics is going to be taught in the nation's public schools, what should be taught includes: the management of money, balancing a check book, different types of investments (e.g., savings, bonds, money-market accounts, how to handle credit cards, interest rates, late fees, overdraft charges, different types of loans, e.g., fixed, variable, simple and compound interest).

These are just everyday starters that could help a whole lot of people and hopefully, keep them from getting suckered in to a subprime, variable rate loan for any kind of major purchase.

Your "free-market ideas" apparently is just as hypocritical as the rest of the BGP staffers

Anonymous said...

Yes, teaching the fundamentals listed is great for 8th or 9th grade. Those are good overviews and understanding the results of out of control policy impacting each of those areas individually and collectively would even better.

But real economics need to be addressed so students understand the impact of debt, the need for personal responsibility, the consequences of dependency on government and the power of entrepreneurism stimulated by individual freedom.

Ever heard of attack the process, not the person?

Anonymous said...

How will providing free access to all the drugs people want to use, knowing elementary economic skills, etc. help America compete in a global market?

America used to be respected and the envy of people from other nations because of the freedom to excel.

It appears that is changing quickly under Obama.