Friday, January 6, 2012

History and Knowing

A poll was released recently showing that 60% of Americans believe socialism is either acceptable or preferable to capitalism. Of course we know this is absurd, but it is what is being taught in our schools, many churches and synagogues, and most of the media. Then again, there is nothing new there.

I recently asked one of my money managers with a law degree from Yale and an MBA from University of Chicago what he knew about American economic history. I was shocked to find out he knew almost nothing apart from a few isolated theories on the depression, mostly liberal mythology. He drew a complete blank when I mentioned the Harding/ Coolidge administration, arguably a better example of the greatness of supply side success and the magic of the free market than even the Reagan years. More shocking is the fact that economic history is not a required course at University of Chicago (it is available as an elective) or any other school I could find. I know of no subject one can truly "master" without knowing it's history. Is it any wonder we have so many liberal, political ignoramuses on Wall Street?

Economic freedom is an absolute necessity for political freedom. Compassion with real help for the poor, and the environment are served infinitely better through capitalism than anything else. At at time when collectivist theories were new there was a basis for reasonable debate about these things. But history in the US and throughout the world has made clear so over and over again that collectivist ideas are antithetical to freedom and prosperity. Any well meaning rational person, informed about US and world economic history, could not help but embrace capitalism.

Many years ago Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, Ayn Rand and Bill Buckley argued that economic interference by the government (aka socialism/ collectivism) retarded economic and individual lifestyle growth. It destroyed freedoms guaranteed in the US constitution, and that collectivism would be left "on the trash heap of history." They had mounds of historical evidence to support their arguments. Today we have another 60 years of the exact same patterns of the success of capitalism and the failure of socialism repeating itself. Nothing has changed. Attempts to hide and distort the record seem to have made historical and socialist falsehoods into accepted truths for some, but the record points to the folly of every single Keynes, Krugman and Obama idea. That is why it is so important that history, particularly economic history, be taught, not just to MBA candidates, but to everyone. 

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