How Public Education Led to Economic Stupidity

I entered the American public school system in 1960.  Dwight D. Eisenhower was President.  Man had not yet entered space, and the nation had approximately 900 troops in a place called Viet Nam.  American public education was placing an emphasis on math and science.  Universities were beefing up their engineering programs and high schools were reinforcing the math programs.  All this was the result of the 1956 Soviet entry into space with Sputnik 1, and the resulting American space program, which seemed to rearrange the nation’s government overnight.  I graduated from high school in 1972.  Our nation had placed twelve astronauts on the moon.  America was in the process of withdrawing troops from Viet Nam, from a high of 536,100 in 1968 to a 1972 level of 24,200.  Between the nation’s attitude toward the war and the civil rights struggle for African Americans, public education was changing.  The “60’s Generation” was entering the classroom, and the space program was considered a waste of money that could have been spent on the oppressed and downtrodden.  Education made a 180 degree turn from objective to subjective.  Facts were irrelevant.  feeling were what mattered.  To a great extent, this zeitgeist has held for the last forty plus years.  But in the last fifty-six years since 1960, there is one discipline that has not been showcased, and it shows.  Economics.  Macro, micro, whatever.  The average American, and the college-educated American especially, is amazingly ignorant of economics.

In this election year, I cannot count the number of interviews I have seen with unimpaired (apparently) Americans who have no knowledge of the national debt, or how (or why) it could possibly affect their lives.    They have no idea where “money” comes from, how it is valued, or why debt makes a difference.  Even members of Congress seem to think that the national debt can simply be “fixed” by printing more money (Sheila Jackson Lee).  The average American is even more ignorant, if that is possible.  People with a large pool of disposable income tend to be somewhat more ignorant about microeconomics, simply because they have less to worry about.   Non college-educated Americans have less knowledge of macroeconomics, and that puzzles me, because less than 20% of university students take any economics course these days.  It would interfere with their Gender Relativity class or Deconstructing Western Civilization seminar.  All this has been a great boon to the Democratic Party, which uses economic idiocy to attract huge numbers of voters.

In about twelve hours from the time I write this, we will see if the idiots won.

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