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Depressing Fact of the Day

I would like to say that I am surprised, but:

An academic survey study conducted in 1990 compared how much Americans and Russians understood about the way markets work. It found no significant difference. Americans understood free markets no better than a nation of people with virtually no personal experience of them. That’s sobering. And since the heaviest academic emphasis of the last fifteen years has been on elementary mathematics and reading, there is little reason to believe that we have improved our grasp of economics in the interim.

This is a funny but probably true observation:

it would be institutionally suicidal for a monopoly school system to do a good job of teaching market economics. The very fact that we continue to have a monopoly school system is retroactive proof that market economics has not been well taught. Monopolies, after all, tend to be frowned on by the economically savvy.

Posted on March 21, 2007 at 07:40 PM | Permalink


I couldn't agree more about the disgraceful lack of economic literacy of our fellow citizens, and am dismayed that my kids, made to learn Euclidean geometry and inorganic chemistry (not a bad thing, mind you), have zero requirement to learn about how prices emerge from supply and demand, something that might help them any day that they might pick up the newspaper.

However, I'm not as sanguine about an implied conspiracy of silence perpetrated by the public school monopoly. Sure, most teachers are lefty, but that may have less impact than one might suppose. Most young people of this generation (especially mine) are far to the right of their teachers, and far more libertarian than our generation was. As a counterexample, most schools at the turn of the last century had a strong bias toward religion and laissez-faire--a Progressive's nightmare. See what good that did us.

Posted by: march | Mar 21, 2007 9:50:15 PM

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