“You, who are on the road, must have a code, that you can live by,
And so, become yourselves,
Because the past is such a good-bye…
Don’t you ever ask them why, if they told you, you will cry,
So just look at them and sigh,
And know they love you”
~~”Teach Your Children”, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young.
This defeatist attitude was endemic and insidious in the 60’s and 70’s mentality under which we all grew up. As Neil Young said in his introduction to “Don’t Let It Bring You Down,”: “It sorta starts out real slow and then just fizzles out altogether.” But don’t let it bring you down. It’s only castles burning.
“Just look at them and sigh, and know they love you.”
That’s good enough, isn’t it?
No it isn’t! It’s a contradictory message.
Mustn’t they “have a code that they can live by?” Isn’t this the whole purpose: to “Teach Your Children …a code…that they can live by”?
That code is economics, morals and ethics. That code is independence and self-sufficiency, not dependence and entitlement. That code must be taught in the home.
Are we doing that? Are we succeeding at it? I don’t think we as a nation have succeeded at teaching our children well. And it has and will become as the song says, “their fathers’ Hell”.
Witness the entitlement and privilege of the left. What crybabies in the cereal aisle of our public arena they have become! With AOC as their new poster child, they’ve even left their parents and grandparents, the “silver ponytails” of the sixties, in the dust.
But socialism disguised as progressivism is nothing new. Just as CPUSA communists had to hide in our schools and universities and in Hollywood, calling themselves “progressives” and “liberal Democrats” they now hide behind the “Democrat Socialist” banner. This misdirection and name-morphing has been going on since Karl Marx first dipped his pen in the red ink of statism.
And the kids are not alright. Far from it.
Today’s young ‘socialists’ and so-called ‘anarchists’ are so clueless about economics 101 that they remind me a lot of many of my college undergraduate classmates in Freshman Economics class.
It’s uncanny, the resemblances.
Most of my fellow students were
not like me.
I came from a lower-to middle class working family. They were from executive and business-owning families. My parents and grandparents never attended college. I was the first in my immediate family to graduate college. Their grandparents and some of their great-grandparents went to college. I worked during the semester. They went to frat parties and threw up a lot.
I never had an allowance growing up and had to work and save money for anything I wanted. They, on the other hand were handed weekly cash, had credit cards, and were raised, coddled, sheltered, and supported by their well-off, doting parents. Few of them ever had to work any serious job or pay any taxes. If they did work in summer, it was often some make-work job in the family business
They were given cars by their parents. I didn’t have a car.
They didn’t work jobs during the school year, they hung out, some of them drinking and taking drugs. I had four jobs during college, in the cafeteria and factory during the school year, driving an oil tanker truck during breaks, and a hard-core construction job in summer. I got dirty. They drank beer and went sailing on Lake Michigan.
They had no clue how economics worked, because they had no trade offs in life. They had no sacrifices. Everything had been handed to them by their often-guilt-ridden parents to placate them and buy their love and attention. I had the loving support of my great family, but everything I ate, except the food on mom’s table, make no mistake, I killed by myself. Tuition, books, room and board, were all paid for by me…and the bank that lent me my student loans.
This, versus the code many of my peers were taught in the home: “behave—or not— and you will be rewarded and lavished with material gifts and cash.” The bribery works.
Being spoiled or bribed to entice or elicit a certain behavior is not moral OR ethical. It’s Pavlovian. It doesn’t teach ethical values. It teaches entitlement and addiction to trigger stimuli.
Of course, statists and elitists understand the economic principle of incentives better than our children do. They create a one-way Street, not a two-way Street or, as with CSN&Y, a Four Way Street, which would, of course, be chaos. But for them, all roads lead to serfdom.
When the bright light of economics was shone on my fellow classmates by Dr. Barrie Richardson, our excellent professor and friend of the great Milton Friedman, few of them believed the principles of economics. So ensconced and coddled were they in their upper middle class cocoons.
Many couldn’t handle the truth of economics and refused to understand it. It threatened their confirmation biases and their “reality”. As a result, many did poorly in that Econ class, because they didn’t and couldn’t get it.
Barrie was brilliant, funny and engaging. He did magic tricks in class and kept our interest in what could be a very dry subject. If you couldn’t get economics when Barrie taught it, you weren’t going to ever get economics.
Still, they refused to see. They couldn’t, and many wouldn’t believe the basic economic principles, such as Supply and Demand, Marginal Utility, Diminishing Marginal Returns.
Many couldn’t accept these “magical” basic concepts of economics:
•People Face Tradeoffs.
•The Cost of Something is What You Give Up to Get It.
•Rational People Think at the Margin.
•People Respond to Incentives (carrot and stick).
•Trade Can Make Everyone Better Off.
•Markets Are a Good Way to Organize Economic Activity.
Why? Because they were so coddled and spoiled that they couldn’t think RATIONALLY!
They wanted it ALL, NOW, and many of them were used to throwing tantrums if they didn’t get it.
The real world of trade-offs and sacrifices (real world economics) threatens the world of handouts, whether from mom and dad or from government grifters handing out taxpayer goodies. (the bubble of fantasy and utopia).
Of course, this isn’t rational behavior. It’s rainbows and unicorns.
A quote from an expert in school administration in a recent Wall Street Journal article entitled, “The Overprotected American Child” highlights the problem:
“We have parents who call their college student at Harvard or Michigan and wake them up every morning.”
Thanks to their parents, coddled kids simply never grow up, and so mentally, it’s just easier for them to simply move from the “safe space” “system” of parental dependency to the “safe sanctuary” system of government dependency.
They weren’t taught what the Greeks call “pedía (πεδία) at home. And government elites LOVE THAT. Make them fear independence and responsibility. Dependency is control. But you already knew that when you spoiled and bribed your kids when you didn’t want to lose control of them, didn’t you?
Candy or TV time for eating their broccoli, or not. Maybe just candy to quit screaming and kicking their feet. Money for cleaning their room, or not, or taking out the trash, or not. A new bike in grade school, or a nice trip on Spring Break in college for good grades or mediocre ones, or even horrible ones. A car for graduation, even if the kid was on the “six year plan,” taking Archery, Bowling, African Dance, and Women’s Issues. These are the trade-offs their environment taught them. Incentives, for sure, but where is the sacrifice?
What does one do in life with a degree in Women’s Issues, except have issues later getting a job?
Maybe they can’t get economics 101, but many of today’s kids (and young adults) can get just about whatever else they want by having a total meltdown in the cereal aisle, literally, when they are young, and figuratively, when they get older. Ever see a triggered 40 year-old completely lose it in public? If so, you understand.
Now government elites can trigger them to action and use our tax money to spoil and bribe them to rush out and vote for statism.
Calls for “free” education, “free” healthcare and “free” minimum monthly income are all just sugary bribes to keep the babies quiet in the cereal aisle. Because, as we all know if we paid attention in economics class, everything has a cost associated with it.
Remember: In economics, we assume people are rational, this allows us to try to predict their behavior through the use of models.
Even when people aren’t rational, however, their behavior is still, ironically, governed by the laws of economics. This is the magic of economics. And Barrie loved magic.
Opportunity costs rule the day in economics. The price of something is its opportunity cost because you are giving up that money to get it.
Everything is analyzed on the margin. This means that economists are interested in the NEXT decision being made.
Focusing on the margin means only considering the NEXT piece of pizza eaten, or the NEXT video game being made.
If you are familiar with calculus then this concept makes sense.
If not, think about drinking beer with your friends. Whenever you order your NEXT beer you consider how much you want that NEXT beer, and how much money that NEXT beer will cost you. While decisions made in the past will affect your happiness from that NEXT beer, and the amount of money you have, the decision to buy that NEXT beer is made then.
Therefore, marginal cost=marginal benefit.
The problem is that our misguided and mis-raised children want it all but they aren’t willing to give up anything. There’s no trade, no exchange. They haven’t had to sacrifice anything for anything else their entire lives.
Why should they start now?
Whether it’s “rights” or goods, they believe their entitlement out of sheer existence grants them ownership without responsibility. Even if they have to take it away from others to get it.
This is why they are dangerous. They don’t know what they don’t know, and if they rise to power before they realize their fatal flaws, they can bring us all down. Most can’t even articulate the basic calculations needed to analyze an economic policy’s flaws or merits. But they promote policies. They have opinions, but they don’t have the knowledge necessary to form an opinion.
Teach your children. Teach them economics and harsh realities, folks. Teach them to think.
And let them go. Or at least hold on loosely. Let them fall down. Don’t bail them out unless you wish to create dependent parasites instead of free thinkers. Parasites have no marginal utility to society.
Dr. Barrie Richardson would have agreed.
Categories: From the Front Line