Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Another Amazing Semester

Yes friends, school is back in session and I'm facing more eager young mushy minds seeking a grade dispenser to provide them with an ego-satisfying A or B to pump their GPA and fill the mandatory state requirements for a course in American Government and a course in State/Local Government to get a degree in Texas.

I again have been overwhelmed in just a week by the crop on the academic tree. There is virtually no understanding visible of the basic principles of a free market. How they might have gotten through 12 years of education in America without anyone ever suggesting that prices aren't set by government with regard to "fairness" is astonishing.

Like a complex crystal, each time I turn the academic page, I get a new view of the misunderstanding and a new insight into what is wrong with America. These things aren't unique to this semester's bunch. The concepts they harbor were in the previous classes, but the one that jumps out at me this early in the semester is the issue of government spending.

They don't appreciate the incontrovertible fact that government at any level has no money of its own. They somehow think that there is a treasury filled with gold doubloons that a benevolent government strews out to the hungry populace. Or, conversely for the more modern viewpoint, the government owns a printing press.

If only some enterprising high school teacher would have mentioned Milton Friedman to them. It is a revelation when I suggest that money only has value when the total supply is limited. Printing more units of currency only means that each unit is worth progressively less until we reach the Weimar Republic moment of hyper-inflation and total collapse. They don't get it.

Even more telling was a State/Local student griping about "unfunded mandates". I guess the thought was that throwing a technical term like that into the discussion would confer gravitas into his answers. He griped that forcing the states to perform tasks at federal mandate without providing funds would tax the state budget! The feds should ship the necessary bucks along with the mandate or we wouldn't be able to get it done!

Describing to him that the service costs what the service costs and regardless of whether it was paid by federal appropriation or state, the money would come from the citizens in the form of taxes. Sort of "you can pay me now or you can pay me later."

What is so hard about that? Isn't it obvious? We only receive government largess after our own pocket has been picked.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

As a former student of yours, let me assure you that what you say doesn't fall on completely deaf ears. At least some of us eventually get it lol.