Phi Beta Cons

We Need Good Economic Education — But Can We Get It?

Our friends at the American Council of Trustees and Alumni have released a paper arguing that most American college students are woefully ignorant of economics and finance. I couldn’t agree more. The chief reason why we still find a high level of support for Obamanomics is that so few Americans have the economic acumen to see that they’re being led down a destructive, anti-market path. Heavily politicized nations — and that is precisely what the Obama administration has in mind — always lose economic vitality.

The trouble is that are are few professors and teachers who wouldn’t make matters worse if they tried to enlighten students about economic realities. Here, for example, is an excellent article by Prof. Robert Higgs, a historian who happens to have a thorough grasp of economics. Higgs shows the fatal defects in the reigning Keynesian mode of analysis. Keynesian thinking is congenial to the expansion of the state, and if that is what students are taught, well, it’s as if medical schools taught that the cure for most illnesses is to bleed the patient.

Teaching about economics and finance is important, but if it isn’t done well, it’s worse than useless.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.